Schools and Universities

With recommendations and plans varying greatly between different schools, districts, and universities, it’s important to pay close attention to any local, regional, or state guidelines in place. However, there are a number of fundamental steps that can be taken to maximize the safety of students, faculty, and staff during in-person learning. The following guide outlines steps and procedures to promote healthy behaviors, learning environments, and school operations. 

Ongoing Training & Evaluation

  • Educate staff and families about when they/their child(ren) should stay home and when they can return to school.
    • Anyone who is sick or who has recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should stay home without fear of reprisal.
    • Consider not having perfect attendance awards, not assessing schools based on absenteeism, and offering virtual learning and telework options, if feasible.
  • Teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and increase monitoring to ensure adherence among students and staff.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used (for staff and older children who can safely use hand sanitizer).
  • Encourage staff and students to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Used tissues should be thrown in the trash and hands washed immediately with soap and water or hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for at least 20 seconds.
  • Teach and reinforce the proper use of cloth face coverings by staff and students when feasible, and especially when physical distancing is difficult. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children younger than 2 years old, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, or anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.
  • Discourage sharing of items that are difficult to clean or disinfect. 

Enhanced Safety Procedures

  • Develop a schedule for increased cleaning and disinfection.
  • Develop a plan for organizing students and staff into small groups (cohorting) that remain together while social distancing, with limited mixing between groups.
  • Develop appropriate COVID-19 accommodations, modifications, and assistance for students with special healthcare needs or disabilities, and students in special education who have a 504 plan or individualized education plan.
  • Develop a plan for serving students individually plated, boxed, or wrapped meals in classrooms instead of in a cafeteria, or stagger mealtimes to reduce the number of students in a cafeteria at once.
  • Develop a plan to limit contact among small groups and with other students’ guardians at arrival and drop-off.
  • Limit nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible.
  • Identify and prioritize outdoor activities when possible.
  • If offering sporting activities, develop a plan to follow considerations that minimize transmission of COVID-19 to players, families, coaches, and communities. 

Environmental Upgrades

  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly and increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible, for example by opening windows and doors. Do not open windows and doors if doing so poses a safety or health risk (e.g., risk of falling, triggering asthma symptoms) to children using the facility.
  • To minimize the risk of Legionnaire’s disease and other diseases associated with water, take steps to ensure that all water systems and features (e.g., sink faucets, drinking fountains, decorative fountains) are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown. Drinking fountains should be cleaned and sanitized, but encourage staff and students to bring their own water to minimize use and touching of water fountains.
  • Install hand sanitizer dispensers, touchless whenever possible, at key student and staff touchpoints throughout the facility.


Looking for more information? Check out our room-specific guidelines below.

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