Reopening Guidelines


Reopening Guidelines for Schools & Colleges
QUICK GUIDE: Releases from the union, public health, public education systems

Click on the division tabs below to quickly find reopening guidelines issued by the CFT, the AFT, the California Department of Public Health, the CDC, and California systems of public education. Where noted, you may click through to union articles with more information where noted. The union guidelines support safe learning spaces for all students, educators, and support staff.  



July 23, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Guidelines for Institutions of Higher Education
Note: California has retired its older public health guidance for higher ed (below) and there is no update as of this date.

August 7, 2020
California Department of Public Health/CalOSHA
COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Institutions of Higher Education 
Includes areas of note for community colleges

June 26, 2020
California Community Colleges
Report of the Safe Campus Reopening Workgroup


July 23, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Guidelines for Institutions of Higher Education
Note: California has retired its older public health guidance for higher ed (below) and there is no update as of this date.

August 7, 2020
California Public Health Department/CalOSHA
COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Institutions of Higher Education


February 3, 2021
Classroom Learning and Safe Schools for Employees and Students (CLASSES), A Pathway to Bringing Students Back to Schools
California education unions, including the CFT, craft and release joint school reopening plan.

June 24, 2020
A Checklist for Safely Reopening California Schools and Colleges
The CFT urges unions to tailor this checklist to local conditions to best assist in ensuring a safe working environment for educators and students now and in the near future. The checklist covers three key areas — General Conditions, Infection Prevention, and Labor Relations. 


February 2021
Leveraging Collective Bargaining, and Educator and School Staff Voice, to Reopen Schools Safely
Case studies on how AFT affiliates have laid the groundwork for reopening schools safely

Reopening School Buildings Safely
The three conditions essential for school buildings to reopen

June 1, 2020
Guide to Bringing Parents, Patients, Students and Community Together to Reopen America’s Schools Safely and Equitably
A step-by-step approach for educators, parents and communities

April 29, 2020
A Plan to Reopen American Schools & Communities
Guidance for imagining a new normal for public education, public health and our economy in the age of COVID-19

Article coronavirus

California education unions release school reopening plan
CLASSES — A Pathway to Bringing Students Back to Schools 

California teachers and classified employees want nothing more than to be back in our physical classrooms and school sites and know first-hand there is no equal substitute to regular, in-person learning.

California’s schools are the heart of their communities. For many of our most vulnerable and underserved populations, they are lifelines. The educational, social and emotional needs of California’s students, particularly those who often lack the technological and additional education support to sustain distance learning, are of paramount concern. 

Article coronavirus

Governor releases new “Safe Schools for All Plan”
Consolidated website for K-12 schools, proposed guidance for in-person instruction

On January 14, the California Department of Public Health released several important resources related to the state’s K-12 schools and COVID-19. Our summary below is meant to guide members and local unions through the new materials, especially the changes and most critical elements. The governor and the CDPH are still developing additional resources, so watch for updates about the plan in the coming weeks.

Read the CFT press release here.

The key changes announced on January 14 include:


State Dept. of Health issues reopening guidelines for higher education
Includes areas of note for community colleges

The California Department of Health released its reopening guidelines for higher education on August 7.

While most of the guidance is geared to four-year colleges and universities, there are also some significant areas of note for the community colleges, which are summarized here.

Article coronavirus Distance learning

State Dept. of Public Health updates school reopening guidelines
CFT wants to see stronger guidelines

During his July 17 noon press conference, Governor Newsom announced statewide guidelines for reopening K-12 schools this fall.

While the governor addressed some of the demands that the union articulated to him and state leaders in the CFT letter sent on Monday, CFT still believes that there is more to be done to ensure the safety of California’s teachers, school staff, students, and communities.

Article Distance learning

CFT urges Governor Newsom to delay physically reopening schools
Surging coronavirus cases, testing woes make opening safely all but impossible

The CFT has asked Governor Newsom and state legislative leaders to delay the physical reopening of schools. Despite coronavirus cases surging throughout the state, growing numbers of hospitalizations and deaths, and mounting testing woes, some school districts are rushing to reopen — putting students, teachers, and communities at risk.

In a letter to state leaders, the CFT also urged the governor to provide stronger leadership and direction to school communities, who have been left on their own to make the difficult decision on whether it is safe to reopen schools.

Article coronavirus

California Community Colleges issue reopening guidelines
Task force develops guidance and recommendations

The California Community Colleges organized a high-level task force to create a roadmap of available resources for the safe reopening of community college campuses.

The task force report contains considerations and recommendations for the Chancellor’s Office. However, the broad recommendation of the Report of the Safe Campus Reopening Workgroup is that further action be undertaken locally by subject matter experts. This includes labor partners such as AFT local unions as well as state, federal and local governments, medical professionals, and those directly managing the pandemic response.

Article coronavirus

CFT Checklist for Safely Reopening Schools and Colleges
Key checkpoints for physical reopening in the time of the coronavirus

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and colleges across California were shuttered to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Staff remaining on campus performed the challenging duties of distance learning support, meal preparation and pick-up, and deep cleaning to maintain educational services during shelter-in-place orders, as well as prepare for eventual physical reopening.

In the union’s document, Checklist for Safely Reopening Schools & Colleges, the CFT does not encourage the physical reopening of school sites until it is safe to do so. At a minimum, the CFT recommends coordination with state and local public health guidelines on every checklist item in this document to help prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Article coronavirus

State Superintendent releases guidelines for reopening K-12 schools
For local discussion on safely reopening the education workplace

On June 8, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond released guidance for reopening K-12 schools — Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools.

This guidance was created through the statewide reopening schools task force that fostered a collaborative process for educators and stakeholders, including the CFT. 

Article coronavirus AFT

AFT guidelines call for safe reopening of schools and communities
National union defines five key tenets for reopening

The AFT on April 30 released a detailed road map that, in the absence of a COVID-19 vaccine, charts a path to safely and responsibly reopen school buildings and other institutions crucial to the well-being and economic vitality of our communities.

The 20-page, science-based “Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and Communities” sprung from an intense collaboration of public health professionals, union leaders and frontline workers to prepare for what happens next in the period between flattening the curve and truly eradicating the virus.


California Dept. of Public Health issues guidelines and considerations
Industry Guidance for Schools and School-Based Programs

Communities across the state are preparing for the forthcoming school year. To assist with that planning process, the following guidelines COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs are intended to help school and community leaders plan and prepare to resume in-person instruction.