Guidelines for a Healthy and Safe Return to School

a parent taking two kids to school

Reopening Safely

Here are some measures you can take to help slow the spread of COVID-19 when we return to in-person learning.

Guidelines for a Healthy and Safe Return to School

Before coming to school, perform a health check

  • Is your child feeling ill or do they have any of the following symptoms?
    • fever greater than 100.4 F/38 C 
    • cough with shortness of breath
    • sore throat
    • chills
    • headache
    • loss of smell or taste
    • diarrhea/vomiting
    • abdominal pain
  • Has your child tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 10 days?
  • Has your child been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 14 days?
    Close contact is if the child was within 6 feet of someone with confirmed COVID-19 for 15 minutes or longer. For children under 12 years old, close contact also means that the child was in the same pod/cohort with another child or adult who has COVID-19.

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, please keep your child home. Call the school to let them know why your child needs to stay home today. The school will discuss with you when your child can return to school, and if COVID-19 testing would be recommended.

Getting to school

For PreK and elementary students, have only one adult from your household accompany your child to school during drop-off and pick-up. If possible, please designate a consistent adult. If possible, the adult should not be sick, not be in isolation or quarantine, and not be on the list of people at increased risk for COVID-19.

If coming by school bus, students aged 2-9 years old must wear facemasks if feasible. All adults and students 10 years and older must wear face masks while on the bus, unless they have a documented medical reason to not wear a face covering. Seating for students from different households will be physically distanced on the bus, and windows will be open for maximum ventilation. Students should sit in the same seat on the bus every day.

If taking public transportation or carpooling to school, both adults and children should wear a face covering, and windows should be open. 

Arrival and drop off: what to expect

  1. Please arrive at your scheduled arrival time so physical distancing can be maintained and longer lines can be avoided. Stop at the screening area, which will be located at designated entrances to the school.
  2. Both adults and students must wear an appropriate face covering and maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from anyone outside of their household while waiting to be screened.
  3. School staff will screen your child for symptoms before they enter the building. The school might check for fever with a “no-touch” thermometer only if necessary. 
  4. After your child passes the health screening, they will be allowed to enter the building. Families will not be allowed to enter the building for health and safety reasons. In PreK, the student will be escorted inside by a staff member.
  5. For PreK, each family will need to complete a sign-in sheet. Each family will have an individual sheet, clipboard and pen to use for signing in and out.
  6. Before entering the classroom, each student must clean their hands either at a handwashing station or with hand sanitizer.

Safety measures throughout the day

Physical distance

Physical distance of at least 6 feet will be maintained between students and staff during individual activities. During group activities, physical distancing between students may be more relaxed within PreK and elementary cohorts.

Face coverings

Face coverings must be worn by all staff and students aged 10 years and older. Students aged 2-9 years old are encouraged to wear face coverings, especially when in public, during group activities, and if they encounter students outside of their cohort. Exceptions will be made if there’s a documented medical reason not to wear a face covering. Face coverings must be worn over both nose and mouth. When removing the face covering to eat, the student may place it in a bag labeled with their name, or tuck it into their clothing.


Handwashing will be encouraged frequently, especially before and after eating, after going to the bathroom, after sneezing or coughing or handling their face covering.

Stable cohorts

The same adults and students will stay together throughout the day, every day, and avoid mixing with others outside the cohort. Cohort size will be limited per SFDPH guidelines. Some exceptions are made for staff who provide specialized student support.

Limit sharing of supplies, equipment, and toys

Sets of supplies for each student will be provided where possible and shared toys in the cohort will be cleaned daily.

Outdoor space

Outdoor space will be used whenever possible, particularly for meals and group activity.

Dismissal/going home

Follow the same safety measures as for drop off: 

  • Arrive on time
  • Only one adult per family
  • Wear a face covering and maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others while waiting 

Family members should wait outside. Students will be brought out by staff.

PreK families need to complete a sign-out sheet. Each family will have an individual sheet, clipboard and pen to use for signing in and out. 

If your child develops COVID-19 symptoms while at school, the school will contact you to pick up your child right away. Call the school when you arrive and your child will be escorted out to you. Recommended ways to get home by preference: 1) walking or private vehicle with face covering, 2) shared ride with face covering, 3) public transportation with face covering.

What should students bring to school?

  • Backpack with supplies for personal use, such as a water bottle. Anything brought from home should not be shared with other students. Label items with your child’s name.  Classroom teachers will provide a list of specific items to bring.
  • Personal face covering with name on it. Use a clean face covering each day and wash regularly. Extra face coverings will be provided by the school as needed. Provide a bag labeled with your child’s name so they have a safe place to store their face covering when they need to take it off, such as while eating.
  • If your child needs medication, medical supplies or equipment, please bring them on the first day with any physician orders, and inform the classroom teacher or school district nurse.
  • For PreK, on the first day of school, provide a change of clothing in a bag with your child’s name on it, and a fitted sheet and blanket for naptime.