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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

    Complete CDC Considerations for Schools: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools.html

    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):

  • Review relevant local/state regulatory agency policies and orders, such as those related to events, gatherings, and travel.

  • Consult local health officials about the school’s approach to planning for COVID-19.

  • Designate a staff person responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. Make sure other staff, parents, and students know how to contact this person.

  • Develop policies that encourage sick staff members to stay at home without fear of job loss or other consequences and protect their privacy, particularly for those with underlying medical conditions and at higher risk for severe illness.<br><br>People of Any Age with Underlying Medical Conditions: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/groups-at-higher-risk.html<br><br>People Who Are at Increased Risk for Severe Illness: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html

  • Offer options (e.g., telework or virtual learning opportunities) for staff and students at higher risk for severe illness.

  • Offer flexible sick leave policies and practices.

  • Offer options for flexible worksites (e.g., telework) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts).

  • Develop a plan to monitor absenteeism of students and staff, cross-train staff, and create a roster of trained back-up staff.

  • Monitor absenteeism of students and staff, cross- train staff, and create a roster of trained back-up staff.

  • Develop a plan to 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.

  • Develop a plan for organizing students and staff into small groups (cohorting) that remain together while social distancing, with limited mixing between groups (all school day for young students, and as much as possible for older students).

  • Develop appropriate COVID-19 accommodations, modifications, and assistance for students with special healthcare needs or disabilities.

  • Incorporate considerations for students in special education who have a 504 plan or individualized education plan to ensure education remains accessible.

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

  • Develop a plan for serving students individually plated, boxed, or wrapped meals in classrooms instead of in a cafeteria, or for implementing staggered mealtimes to reduce the number of students or small groups within a cafeteria.

  • Develop protocols to limit contact among small groups and with other students’ guardians (e.g., staggered arrival and drop-off times or locations).

  • Develop a plan for if someone gets sick or shows symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Other (if applicable):

Facilities and Supplies

  • Point Person(s):

  • Obtain supplies including:

  • Soap

  • Hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)

  • Paper Towels

  • Tissues

  • Cleaning and disinfection supplies<br><br>Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19

  • Cloth face coverings (as feasible) <br><br>Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

  • No-touch/foot pedal trash cans

  • No-touch soap/hand sanitizer dispensers

  • Disposable food service items

  • Other (if applicable):

  • Develop a schedule for increased routine cleaning and disinfection in collaboration with maintenance staff, including areas such as the following:

  • 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 (if applicable):

  • Assess the ability of staff, students, and families to obtain cloth face coverings for everyday use.

  • Close communal spaces or develop a plan for staggered use and cleaning and disinfecting.<br><br>Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html

  • Develop a protocol to ensure safe and correct use and storage of cleaners and disinfectants, including storing products securely away from students.<br><br>Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html<br><br>Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

  • Ensure ventilation systems operate properly. If using fans, make sure they do not blow from one person onto another.

  • Ensure all water systems and features are safe to use after a prolonged facility shutdown.<br><br>Guidance for Reopening Buildings After Prolonged Shutdown or Reduced Operation: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html

  • Follow CDC’s considerations for Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds During COVID-19 if applicable.<br><br>Considerations for Public Pools, Hot Tubs, and Water Playgrounds During COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/parks-rec/aquatic-venues.html

  • Install physical barriers, such as sneeze guards and partitions, in areas where it is difficult for individuals to remain at least 6 feet apart (e.g., reception desks).

  • Provide physical guides, such as tape on floors and signs on walls, to promote social distancing.

  • Space seating at least 6 feet apart and turn desks to face in the same direction.

  • Develop protocol to 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).

  • Develop a protocol to monitor and ensure adequate supplies to minimize sharing of objects, or limit use to one group of students at a time, and clean and disinfect between use.

  • Encourage organizations that share the school facilities to follow these considerations.

  • Other (if applicable):

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.<br><br>Quarantine If You Might Be Sick: <br>https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine-isolation.html<br><br>Symptoms of Coronavirus: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html<br><br>Public Health Guidance for Community-Related Exposure: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/public-health-recommendations.html<br><br>When You Can be Around Others After You Had or Likely Had COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/end-home-isolation.html

  • 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.

  • Teach the importance of hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.<br><br>When and How to Wash Your Hands: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/when-how-handwashing.html

  • Teach the importance of social distancing and staying with small groups, if applicable.<br><br>Social Distancing: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

  • Identify who should wear cloth face coverings, and communicate the importance of wearing them. Cloth face coverings should NOT be placed on:<br><br>• Children younger than 2 years old<br>• Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the cover without help<br><br>Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

  • Provide information on proper use, removal, and washing of cloth face coverings (see CDC guidance in link above).

  • Train staff on all safety protocols.

  • Conduct training virtually or maintain social distancing during training.<br><br>Social Distancing: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/social-distancing.html

  • Other (if applicable):

Communication and Messaging

  • Point Person(s):

  • Post signs in highly visible locations to promote everyday protective measures and describe how to stop the spread of germs.

    Print Resources: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/print-resources.html?Sort=Date::desc

    How to Protect Yourself and Others: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention-H.pdf

    Stop the Spread of Germs: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/stop-the-spread-of-germs-11x17-en.pdf

  • Signage locations include:

  • Entrances

  • Dining areas

  • Restrooms

  • Classrooms

  • Administrative offices

  • Cafeteria

  • Auditorium

  • Janitorial staff areas

  • Other (if applicable):

  • Develop plans to include messages (e.g., videos) about behaviors that prevent spread of COVID-19 when communicating with staff and families on the channels below:

    Covid-19 Videos: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/videos.html

  • Websites

  • Email

  • Social media accounts<br><br>Social Media Toolkit: <br>https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/social-media-toolkit.html

  • Other (if applicable):

  • Develop plans to broadcast regular announcements on reducing the spread of COVID-19 on PA systems or during morning announcements.<br><br>Public Service Announcements (PSAs): https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/communication/public-service-announcements.html

  • Consider posting signs for the national distress hotline: 1-800-985-5990, or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

  • Notify all staff and families of who to contact for questions and concerns related to COVID-19.

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

  • Other (if applicable):

Gatherings, Visitors, and Events

  • Point Person(s):

  • Review local/state regulatory agency policies related to group gatherings to determine if events (e.g., sport games, extracurricular activities) can be held.

  • Identify opportunities to pursue virtual group events, gatherings, or meetings, if possible, and develop a protocol to limit those where social distancing cannot be maintained.

  • Develop a protocol to limit nonessential visitors, volunteers, and activities involving external groups or organizations as much as possible— especially those who are not from the local geographic area (e.g., community, town, city, country.)

  • Identify opportunities to pursue virtual activities and events, such as field trips, student assemblies, special performances, school-wide parent meetings, and spirit nights, if possible.

  • If offering sporting activities, develop a plan to follow considerations that minimize transmission of COVID-19 to players, families, coaches, and communities.<br><br>Considerations for Youth Sports: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/youth-sports.html

  • Identify and prioritize outdoor activities where social distancing can be maintained as much as possible.

  • Other (if applicable):

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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