CDC Readiness and Planning Tool to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 in K-12 Schools

  • CDC offers the following readiness and planning tool to share ways school administrators can help protect students, staff, and communities, and slow the spread of COVID-19. This tool aligns with the Considerations for Schools, and includes the following:

    • General Readiness Assessment
    • Daily/Weekly Readiness Assessment
    • Preparing for if Someone Gets Sick
    • Special Considerations and Resources

    Consideration for Schools:

    School administrators may review and complete the general readiness assessment while working with state, local, tribal, territorial, or federal officials when making initial preparations to promote healthy behaviors, environments, and operations that reduce the spread
    of COVID-19. The daily/weekly readiness assessment can be used to
    monitor recommended practices. Planning tools are also included to help school administrators prepare to respond if someone gets sick and to identify special considerations specific to their school community. Implementation should be guided by what is feasible, practical, acceptable, and tailored to the needs and context of each community.


    • Lowest Risk: Students and teachers engage in virtual-only classes, activities, and events.

    • More Risk: Small, in-person classes, activities, and events. Groups of students stay together and with the same teacher throughout/across school days and groups do not mix. Students remain at least 6 feet apart and do not share objects.

    • Highest Risk: Full sized, in-person classes, activities, and events. Students are not spaced apart, share classroom materials or supplies, and mix between classes and activities.

Policies and Procedures

  • Point Person(s)

  • Maintain regular contact with local health authorities and review relevant local/state regulatory agency policies and orders for updates.

  • Ensure a staff person is assigned to respond to COVID-19 concerns.

  • Monitor absenteeism of students and staff.

  • Ensure roster of trained back-up staff is updated.

  • Conduct daily health checks (e.g., temperature screening and/or symptom checking) of staff and students, as possible, and in accordance with any applicable privacy laws and regulations.


  • Ensure options for flexible worksites (e.g., telework) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts) are available and used when needed.

  • Ensure students are kept together in small groups with dedicated staff and remain with the same group throughout the day, every day, if possible.

  • Monitor and ensure appropriate accommodations, modifications, and assistance for students with special healthcare needs or disabilities.

  • Ensure education remains accessible for students in special education who have a 504 plan or individualized education plan.

  • Ensure safety for children and youth who need assistance with activities of daily living, as well as their service providers.

    Guidance for Direct Service Providers:

  • Adhere to and review protocols to limit contact between small groups and with other students’ guardians.

  • Ensure small groups maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet to avoid mixing between groups, if possible.

  • Ensure students eat in separate areas or with their small group.

  • Ensure each student’s belongings are separated from others’ and in individually labeled containers, cubbies, or designated areas.

  • Ensure limited sharing of electronic devices, toys, books, and other games or learning aids, and clean and disinfect between users.

  • Other

Facilities and Supplies

  • Point Person(s)

  • Monitor and restock supplies including:

  • Soap

  • Hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)

  • Paper towels

  • Tissues

  • Cleaning and disinfection supplies

    List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19):

  • Cloth face coverings (as feasible)

    Cloth Face Covers:

  • No-touch (preferably covered) trash cans

  • No-touch soap/hand sanitizer dispensers

  • Disposable food service items

  • Other

  • Monitor adherence to the schedule for increased, routine cleaning and disinfection of:

  • Buses or other transport vehicles

  • Frequently touched surfaces (e.g., desks, door handles, railings)

  • Communal spaces (e.g., restrooms)

  • Shared objects (e.g., gym equipment, art supplies, games)

  • Other

  • Monitor availability and use of gloves when food is prepared and served, and when handling and disposing of trash.

  • Monitor safe and correct use and storage of cleaners and disinfectants, including storing products securely away from students.

    How to Clean and Disinfect:

    List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19):

  • Ensure that there is adequate ventilation when cleaners and disinfectants are used to prevent students or staff from inhaling toxic fumes.

  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly.

  • Ensure seating is spaced at least 6 feet apart and that desks remain facing the same direction.

  • In transport vehicles, ensure one student per row, skipping rows when possible.

  • For communal spaces, ensure staggered use, and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces and shared objects between users.

  • Increase circulation of outdoor air as much as possible throughout the school day (e.g., opening windows and doors when it is safe to do so).

  • Ensure adequate supplies (e.g., writing utensils, art supplies) to minimize sharing of frequently touched surfaces and shared objects, and monitor cleaning and disinfecting between use.

  • Other

Education and Training

  • Point Person(s)

  • Educate staff, students, and their families about when they should stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, have been diagnosed with COVID-19, are waiting for test results, or have been exposed to someone with symptoms or a confirmed or suspected case, and when they can return to school.

    Stay home if you might have been exposed to COVID-19:


    Community-Related Exposure:

    When You Can be Around Others:

  • Educate staff on flexible work and leave policies that encourage sick staff members to stay at home without fear of job loss or other consequences.

  • Reinforce and monitor handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

    When and How to Wash Your Hands:

  • Reinforce the importance of social distancing and staying with small groups, if applicable.

  • Encourage covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Reinforce the use of cloth face coverings. Cloth face coverings should NOT be placed on:

    Cloth Face Coverings:

  • Children younger than 2 years old

  • Anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without help.

  • Provide information on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings.

  • Train staff on all safety protocols.

  • Conduct training virtually or maintain social distancing during training.

    Social Distancing:

  • Other

Communication and Messaging

  • Point Person(s)

  • Continue to post or update signs in highly visible locations to promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs. Signage locations include:


    Everyday Protective Measures:

    Stop the Spread:

  • Entrances

  • Dining areas

  • Restrooms

  • Classrooms

  • Administrative offices

  • Cafeteria

  • Auditorium

  • Janitorial staff areas

  • Other

  • Continue to provide or update messages (e.g., videos) about behaviors that prevent spread of COVID-19 when communicating with staff and families on:


  • Websites

  • Email

  • Social media accounts

  • Other

  • Broadcast regular announcements on reducing the spread of COVID-19 on PA systems or during morning announcements.

  • Ensure all staff and families know which staff person is responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns and how to contact this person.

  • Encourage staff and students to take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories about COVID-19, including social media if they are feeling overwhelmed or distressed.

  • Promote healthy eating, exercising, getting sleep, and finding time to unwind.

  • Encourage staff members and students to talk with people they trust about their concerns and how they are feeling.

  • Ensure communication is developmentally appropriate and accessible for all students, including those with disabilities.

  • Other

Gatherings, Visitors, and Events

  • Point Person(s)

  • Continue to encourage social distancing of at least 6 feet between people who don’t live together at group events, gatherings, or meetings, including outdoor activities.

  • Continue to restrict nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations—especially those who are not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, country).

  • Continue to pursue virtual activities and events in lieu of field trips, student assemblies, special performances, school-wide parent meetings, and spirit nights, if possible.

  • Continue to follow considerations for students and staff participating in sporting activities.

  • Continue to offer pre-packaged boxed or bagged meals at events or gatherings and use disposable food service items.

  • Other

Action Planning—Notes and Next Steps

  • Point Person(s)

  • Use this space to note any required resources and next steps, or potential barriers and opportunities:


  • Additional Comments

  • Completed by: (Name and Signature)

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