This is a compilation of reopening guidelines from our national
and state union, from the California systems of public education
and the California Department of Public Health. You may click
through to small articles about the release of each set of
However, on August 28,
Governor Newsom released county-based monitoring. Those
guidelines now determine school and college opening in
California, even though CFT continues to advocate for statewide
guidelines. Once a school has reopened, the guidelines from
public agencies go into effect.
Throughout all this, the union guidelines from CFT and
AFT remain consistent and support safe learning spaces
for all students, educators, and support staff.
A Checklist for Safely Reopening California Schools and
June 24, 2020
The CFT urges AFT local 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. Click on
the tabs below to read our guidelines in each area.
- The local infection rate has
stabilized or decreased for 14 consecutive days.
- County Public Health Officials have
declared it safe to lift or modify any shelter-in-place orders.
- There is access to local testing
operations to appropriately test and track local infection rates.
- There is a plan to know how and
when to physically close school sites if infections return. The
plan should revisit any MOU put in place for the first closure
and the California Department of Education framework of March
- State funding for education is at a
minimum, the same as the 2019 Budget Act to afford the necessary
health and safety precautions.
- The district Injury and Illness
Prevention Plan (IIIP) has been updated to reflect COVID-19, has
been published to employees and parents, addresses the school’s
role in tracking/tracing infections (in coordination with public
health officials), and includes training for students, staff, and
parents on transmission prevention.
- The district has a plan to address
the digital divide and ensure equipment needed to participate in
distance learning is available to all students and teachers, with
professional development support for educators.
- Directive for staff and parents to
self-screen each morning for symptoms, including elevated body
temperature, and to stay home if symptomatic.
- Testing available at no-cost for
- Having no-touch thermal scanning
thermometers to check students and staff when entering campus or
school transportation vehicles.
- A plan to isolate students who
arrive with (or develop later in the day) symptoms of COVID-19,
and an agreement on addressing staff who develop symptoms while
at work or who can’t come in from having symptoms at home.
- Having hand washing stations,
bathroom soap dispensers, and hand sanitizer with 70 percent (or
higher) alcohol content available throughout campus, and being
used before entering transportation vehicles.
- There is a replenishing stockpile
of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves,
face shields, etc., cleaning equipment (including proper
chemicals at the strengths needed to disinfect or kill the
COVID-19 virus, hand sanitizer, soap, hand washing stations), and
touchless thermometer scanners so that staff are always able to
obtain and use this equipment without delay.
- A plan for assigning proper PPE for
each type of work assignment (i.e., if screening persons for
symptoms, a face shield and mask, or if using disinfection
chemicals consider eye protection and respirator), and parameters
of use (i.e., how long a mask may be reused) and training for
proper use of masks, gloves, etc. Consult with health officials
and EPA regarding PPE recommended and products effective in
killing SARS virus. N95 masks are not necessarily required in
most circumstances and may be hard to come by as they are
directed to medical staff as top priority. The point of masks is
to prevent the wearer from expressing droplets that may carry the
virus from the mouth and nose on to others. Masks should not be
relied on to protect the wearer from contamination, rather that
is the point of social distancing.
- Plans for all persons on campus to
wash their hands and sanitize frequently, including building in
time in the schedule for hand washing for staff and students,
before and after eating, between classes, after having close
contact with another person, after using shared equipment or
surfaces, after using restrooms, or after sneezing, coughing,
blowing nose etc. All persons be trained on proper hand washing
techniques and etiquette on coughing, sneezing, and touching.
- A plan to meet cleanliness
standards prior to reopening and maintaining those standards
throughout the year, including disinfection of surfaces between
uses (tables, chairs, seats on vehicles, keyboards, phones,
office machines, etc.) and routine disinfecting of high-touch
surfaces such as door knobs, handrails, drinking fountains, and
- Ventilation plans taking weather
and air quality into account, in order to maximize fresh air
- Visitation to campus from any
non-student or staff should be eliminated or severely limited,
including Shared Use Agreements, Facility Rentals, and any public
access for other reasons.
- A plan to handle deliveries to
campus that includes disinfection of items that are in contact
with human hands, including deliveries occurring outside of
normal school hours, etc.
- A plan for student use of masks or
other face coverings including locations, durations, and
enforcement. Consider scenarios especially where six feet of
distance is impracticable (such as entry and exit from vehicles).
- Requiring six feet of physical
distancing (or conforming to other local health official
guidance) in classrooms, restrooms, outside spaces (including any
PE instruction) and workspaces. Including plans on how distancing
can be achieved using as much district-owned space as possible
(cafeterias, auditoriums, outside space, temporary classroom
trailers, district offices, etc.), utilizing various strategies
for scheduling of students and staff to limit the number on
campus, prioritizing certain populations that cannot continue
learning through distance models, and enforcing use of masks
where distancing is impracticable, using signage and barriers to
prevent formation of crowds, and adapt these plans to field trips
and larger gatherings as necessary.
- Transportation plans that maintain
safety, including social distancing, use of disinfectants, use of
plastic shields, enforcement of seating arrangements and having
students sit according to drop off locations to minimize students
walking past one another, altering routes, and schedules.
- A plan to maintain distancing and
cleanliness standards for food service programs, including
staggering kitchen and cafeteria use, meal delivery options, and
expanding the areas of campus that students may use as areas to
eat in, with increased custodial capacity for cleaning.
- Execute an MOU prior to physical
reopening of campuses, and include a labor-management committee
able to provide an ongoing workgroup to catch unforeseen issues
as they relate to COVID-19.
- Healthcare benefits for all staff.
- Distance learning related needs,
such as laptops, internet access reimbursements, etc.
- Modifications to the academic
calendar and daily schedules.
- Flexibility regarding evaluation of
permanent and probationary employees.
- Appropriate staffing ratios and
scheduling to meet cleanliness standards, enforce physical
distancing requirements, ensure student learning and health and
- Training on disinfection
requirements, chemicals used, physical distancing, symptom
screening and recognition including temperature checks, updates
to the district’s Injury and Illness Prevention Plan, state and
local health standards or recommendations including, but not
limited to, proper use of PPE, cough and sneeze etiquette, hand
washing, and confidentiality of health condition reporting or
- Reasonable accommodations for staff
who are high-risk for infection, which may include assignment to
other duties with less human contact.
- Leave for vulnerable populations
and symptomatic employees, holding their existing leave harmless
to take care of themselves or a member of their household.
- Mental and emotional support for
staff (and students) that works in collaboration with existing
health plans, Employee Assistance Programs, and behavioral health
departments for workshops or other support. Notify staff about
support options available, available social service programs, and
promote an environment of mental wellness.
- Standards for communication with
staff, parents, and students about protocols required for safe
physical reopening of schools, training requirements, the plan
for conveying information about positive COVID-19 cases on
campus, the school’s role of tracking and tracing infections, and
guidelines or procedures to deal with staff and students who
exhibit illness or test positive.
AFT: A Plan to Safely Reopen America’s Schools and
California Department of Public Health Guidelines
California Department of Public Health Guidance for Schools
Environmental Protection Agency list of products effective in
killing the virus
Guidance on PPE Use
CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and
Child Care Programs
CDC Interim Guidance for Child Care Programs [draft,
CDC School Reopening Decision Tree
CDC Original Guidelines
Governor Newsom’s factors to modify stay-at-home
Learning Policy Institute Report on Reopening Schools in the
Context of COVID-19: Health and Safety Guidelines From Other
National Association of Independent Schools, Coronavirus
(COVID-19) Guidance for Schools
UNICEF, WHO, IFRC, Key Messages and Actions for COVID-19
Prevention and Control in Schools
UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, the World Food Programme,
Framework for Reopening Schools
WHO, Considerations for School-Related Public Health Measures
in the Context of COVID-19