Getting Ready for Safe and Healthy In-Person Learning
Informed decisions come from access to the latest information, knowledge, and guidance from the most reliable sources possible. We are assembling the top advice from leading educators, virologists, immunologists, and school administrators in one place for your use.
In this Safe Schools resources section, we offer the most current curated articles, research, information, expert advice, and practical applications that can be used to help in the evaluation of options available to schools as they reopen and strive to stay safe and open.
Read What Dr. Deborah Feinberg, Ed.D., has to say about us
The CDC, the US Department of Education, and the other authoritative state and regional sources we reference, constantly update their information. This page is frequently updated with the most recent official guidances, notifications, research, and information. To stay informed and up to date, subscribe to this page and you will automatically be updated by email when new articles or guidances are posted
The Department of Education is focusing efforts in support of the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers. The Department believes that every student in America deserves a high-quality education in a safe environment. And a large part of that high-quality education involves returning to in-person learning as soon as possible as an essential step for all students and families.
UPDATE - Date: 4/19/2021
Announcement of Additional Assistance Through HEERF Grant Program
Today, the Department is issuing guidance regarding the use of funds received under the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grant program. The new HEERF guidance reflects a change in the Department's prior position, which previously only allowed funds received under the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSAA), to be used for costs incurred on or after Dec. 27, 2020, the date of the enactment of the CRRSAA.
"The comprehensive and clear guidance on the use of HEERF grants will enable colleges and universities to better address the academic needs of their students, as well as ensure the safety and well-being of all members of the campus community," said the Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. "One of my first priorities is to ensure that institutions of higher education have the financial support and resources needed to support their students and mitigate the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 emergency. Our latest actions will help campuses address those challenges."
UPDATE - Date: 4/9/2021
ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 2:
COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs
The U.S. Department of Education has released the COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs to provide additional strategies for safely reopening all of America's schools and to promote educational equity by addressing opportunity gaps that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Building off of Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools, which focused on health and safety measures that schools can use to successfully implement the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) K-12 Operational Strategy, Volume 2 of the Handbook focuses on research-based strategies to address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic impacts of the pandemic on students, educators, and staff, such as how to address any potential anxiety or depression some may face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and nearly a year of remote learning.
ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1:
Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools
This is the first volume in the U.S. Department of Education (ED) COVID-19 Handbook, a series intended to support the education community as schools reopen. This series will provide tools to aid educators in implementing the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation (K-12 Operational Strategy) by addressing common challenges and providing practical examples. This series will be updated as additional scientific evidence becomes available, including evidence related to new variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.
For Safe School Reopening, it is important to follow the CDC guidelines for healthy schools. As recently put in place, this guidance can mean the difference between a safe school for your staff and teachers and safe in-person learning for your students or the risk of exposure and the spread of COVID-19 throughout your learning community.
Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education
As some institutions of higher education (IHE) prepare to re-open or keep open in-person learning in the United States, IHEs are faced with the challenge of keeping students, faculty, staff, and volunteers safe due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. CDC offers some important considerations for ways that IHEs can help protect students and employees (e.g., faculty, staff, and administrators) and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility
The CDC recently updated its guidance on cleaning and disinfection. Among the recommendations noted that they advise that if there have been no known people with COVID-19 in a space, then cleaning surfaces with soap or detergent once daily is usually sufficient to remove any virus that may be on the surface. Disinfection (with products recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency) or more frequent cleaning may be appropriate in communities with high transmission rates or low mask usage, among other factors.
Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation
CDC has developed guidance for prevention strategies that K–12 school administrators can use to help protect students, teachers, and staff, and slow the spread of COVID-19. If prevention strategies are strictly adhered to, K–12 schools can safely open for in-person instruction and remain open. This document provides an operational strategy for safe delivery of in-person instruction in K–12 schools through the integration of a package of prevention and control components.
In this guidance, the CDC has revised physical distancing recommendations to reflect at least 3 feet between students in classrooms and provide clearer guidance when a greater distance (such as 6 feet) is recommended.
Operating schools during COVID-19: CDC's Considerations
As communities in the United States consider how to safely re-open K-12 school buildings for in-person learning and activities and keep them open, CDC offers updated considerations for prevention strategies that school administrators can use to help protect students, teachers, and staff and slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. These updated “Considerations for Schools” are intended to aid school administrators as they consider how to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of students, teachers, staff, their families, and communities.
Screening K-12 Students for Symptoms of COVID-19:
Limitations and Considerations
When implemented, symptom screening is intended to identify people who have possible symptoms of COVID-19. Those people are then kept from entering a setting to reduce the risk of spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Screenings can be conducted in many ways and may range from assessing for only one symptom of COVID-19 (e.g., daily temperature checks to assess for fever) to assessing for multiple or all known COVID-19 symptoms.
Guidance for Operating Child Care Programs during COVID-19
As a child care provider, you can help protect children, their families, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19 by using CDC’s updated Guidance for Operating Child Care Programs during COVID-19. Tailor your COVID-19 plan based on the unique needs of your child care program and the spread and impact of COVID-19 in your community. Continue to work with your local public health officials, child care licensing boards/bodies, child care accreditation bodies, health consultants, school districts, and other early childhood partners to monitor the situation and revise your plan as needed.
Ventilation in Schools and Childcare Programs
How to use CDC building recommendations in your setting
Ventilation is one component of maintaining healthy environments and is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy for schools and childcare programs. Wearing a well-fitting, multi-layer mask helps prevent virus particles from entering the air or being breathed in by the person wearing a mask. Good ventilation is another step that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. Along with other preventive actions, ventilation can reduce the likelihood of spreading disease.
Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff from COVID-19
The information in this guide provides an expanded focus on the health and safety of K-12 school staff. The strategies also provide workplace safety and health information for administrators related to protecting teachers, substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, janitorial/maintenance staff, office staff, school nutrition staff, school nurses/health professionals, school bus drivers and bus aides, coaching staff and athletic trainers, and music, choir, and performing arts teachers. This list is not exhaustive and addresses only some of the many jobs in schools.
Learning Center Resources for Schools
In this section, we offer curated articles, research, information, expert advice, and practical applications that can be used to help in the evaluation of options available. We are assembling some of the top advice from leading educators, virologists, immunologists, administrators in one place for your use.
The CDC Air Quality Guidelines for COVID Mitigation
How to use the CDC recommendations in your setting
The air quality of your facilities may be one of the most important considerations for sustaining in-person learning. Every person who walks into your buildings - teachers, students, parents, aides, janitors, secretaries - are all impacted. That makes attending to the quality and safety of air quality so important.
The CDC provides a number of science-based and common-sense recommendations when it comes to COVID mitigation strategies for classroom air quality.
Practical Advice from NAESP
On October 7th, 2020, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, in partnership with the CDC, held a virtual Forum entitled "Recommendations on Safe School Reopenings".
Greta Massetti, Ph.D., the Lead JCC Mitigations and Risk Working Group Lead of the CDC Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force talked about some of the strategies that can be applied for safe schools reopening.
VIEW RECORDED SESSION →
UV-C Sanitation Explained
One of the more innovative technology applications to be made widely available is the use of special light waves to sanitize and disinfect entire areas within just a few minutes. What used to take an entire crew of people and gallons of hazardous chemicals, can be done in minutes by one machine. But even though this technology has been commercially available for over a decade, it is not widely understood.
AASA COVID-19 Recovery Task Force Guidelines for Reopening Schools:
An Opportunity to Transform Public Education
The National Association of School Superintendents provides a comprehensive guidance report for Safe School Reopenings. This detailed AASA task force report includes recommendations for addressing the complex range of logistical and financial issues related to reopening. However, it goes beyond the traditional logistics of reopening schools and presents a comprehensive overview of the implications of reopening for transforming public education as we know it, including curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development implications for educational leaders to consider as we move into the 2020-21 academic year.
Does ultraviolet (UV) light kill the coronavirus?
The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine asked the question and then let the science provide the answer.
CLAIM: UV light destroys the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
FINDING: TRUE. Specifically, UVC light has been shown to quickly inactivate the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. It can be an effective disinfectant but needs to be used correctly to avoid damage to the skin and eyes.
The Value of Knowledge
If you have questions, we have answers. Only through full understanding, can informed decisions be made. Today, that is of critical importance for the well-being and safety of the children, teachers, parents and staff at your schools.