return health layers safety

Layers of Safety Health Precautions


As we discuss mitigation measures, it is important for our community to know how COVID-19 is spread and controlled. COVID-19 is mostly spread by respiratory droplets released into the air when people talk, sing, laugh, cough, or sneeze.  Over the course of the pandemic various mitigation measures have been adopted to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. The Swiss Cheese Respiratory Pandemic Defense recognizes that no single intervention is perfect at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.  

Vaccination is the most effective strategy we have, however each strategy (face masks, distancing, testing, etc.) decreases the risk of in-school transmission.  While  no one layer is 100% effective, a combination of layers is proven effective and has been shown to decrease transmissions.   

1. COVID-19 Vaccine

CDPH strongly recommends that all persons eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine receive them at the first opportunity. COVID-19 vaccines authorized by the FDA have been shown to be safe and effective. Current vaccines are approved for individuals 6 months and older. Vaccines help our immune system fight infections in the future. COVID-19 vaccines protect us from the virus that causes COVID-19 without having to get the illness.

SCUSD, operates Immunization Clinics through the Vaccine for Children (VFC) program and is able to provide COVID-19 vaccine.  SCUSD is committed to working closely with SCPH to provide access to COVID-19 vaccine to all educators, education support staff and students.  SCUSD continues to host a series of vaccination clinics with health partners to do our part in stopping the spread of COVID in our community.

For more information about how to register for a clinic, visit

SCUSD continues to promote the vaccine. View the media toolkit.

2. Face Masks

Use of Face Masks 

Wearing a face mask prevents a person from spreading respiratory droplets while talking, singing, breathing, or coughing. They are meant to protect both the wearer and other people.  Face masks are one of the best tools we have to slow the spread of COVID-19.    Whether masks are required or strongly recommended, face masks are widely available at school sites and district spaces.

Face Masks Protect our Community from the Spread of COVID-19

  • When face masks are required, all SCUSD staff, students in all grades, parents/guardians, community partners and visitors – including fully vaccinated individuals -  must wear a face mask at all times in all settings indoors including on the bus, unless they meet a CDPH approved exemption.

  • When face mask requirements are lifted, face masking is strongly recommended. 

  • Masking is required at SCUSD Immunization or COVID vaccine clinics and COVID Testing Centers.

  • Individuals that become symptomatic at school must wear a face mask until they can leave the school site.  

  • Care Room staff must wear face masks when testing or caring for sick students.

  • Individuals who return to school after having Covid symptoms are strongly recommended to wear a face mask through day 10.

  • Individuals that return from isolation early on day 6 are strongly recommended to wear a face mask through day 10.

  • Individuals who have been exposed to someone with Covid-19 are strongly recommended to wear a face mask for 10 days after last exposure.

  • Individuals are recommended to wear a well-fitting face mask of their choosing that meets CDPH recommendations

  • SCUSD will provide face masks at no cost to all individuals who need them.

  • See the CDC Guide to Masks for further information.

Face Mask Breaks

When masks are required, some students may need limited face mask breaks throughout the day.  Signs students may display include fidgeting with the front of the face mask or removing it. 

Face Shields

  • Face shields with a cloth drape can be used for those who are unable to wear face masks for medical, pedagogical or developmental reasons, and should be worn using guidance from CDE and Cal/OSHA.
  • Staff must return to wearing a mask when a face shield is no longer needed.

Face Mask Guidance

Guidance for Daily Use of Face Masks
  • Use a clean or new face mask each day
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the face mask
  • If you are not already wearing it, apply your face mask before coming indoors
  • Avoid touching the face mask
  • Avoid eating or drinking while wearing the face mask
  • Face masks should not have valves, as these permit droplet release from the covering, putting others nearby at risk. SCUSD will not permit face masks with valves
  • Replace the face mask if soiled or wet
How to Remove a Face Mask
  • Avoid touching the front of the face mask, which is contaminated
  • Only handle the face mask by the ties, bands or loops
  • Throw any disposable face mask in a waste container
  • Wash your cloth face mask by hand with warm water and soap or in the washing machines
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after touching a used face mask
A face mask should not be worn in the following situations:
  • Children under age 2
  • During nap time or sleep
  • Persons exempt from wearing a face mask due to a developmental or medical condition must be confirmed by the school district health team, therapist or medical provider.  
    • A “COVID-19 Student Face Mask Exemption Request and Medical Certification” must be submitted and approved by SCUSD Health Services. See Appendix J.
  • In the event a face mask exemption is approved, the school will notify others who share those spaces and physical distancing will be enforced.  
When face masks are required, guidance allows for times when a face mask can be temporarily removed:
  • When outdoors
  • When people are eating or drinking.  Individuals must eat and drink in designated spaces and maintain as much physical distance as possible from other persons who are not members of the same household.  The space must be well-ventilated - eating outdoors is best if weather permits.
  • For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, when the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication.  Face shields with a cloth drape are recommended in this situation
  • When a person is not sharing a common area, room or enclosed space with others
  • When a face mask is temporarily removed, it should be placed in a clean paper bag or ventilated location (marked with the student’s name and date) until it needs to be put on again.   Replace the mask as soon as you can after these activities to reduce risk of infection.

What if a person refuses to wear a face mask? 

Continual efforts will be made using positive reinforcement teaching strategies to ensure face masks are worn properly. If a concern about wearing masks arises, notify the assigned School Nurse and/or Health Services or assigned supervisor immediately for additional support. Each unique situation will be assessed and support strategies will be employed for the well-being and safety of all. 

3. COVID-19 Testing

Used in combination with other mitigation strategies, COVID-19 testing is a valuable tool to support safer in-person instruction. Testing may allow for early identification of cases and reduced transmission. Testing is provided for free on a voluntary basis to all staff, students, their families and other community partners or volunteers and is subject to availability through CDPH.  Parent/guardian notification and consent for minors is obtained via registration on the testing software platform. 


Diagnostic testing: Testing used for individuals with symptoms or exposure to COVID- 19 to diagnose COVID-19.  If an individual is symptomatic, they should get tested for COVID-19.

Post-exposure testing: Testing of people who are asymptomatic, but have been exposed to a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. 

Screening/Surveillance testing: Recurrent testing of asymptomatic individuals to detect COVID-19 early and stop transmission quickly.  The goal of screening testing is to detect cases early, and reduce the number of new infections.

Pre-Entry testing: Testing performed prior to returning to school/work, entering an event, competition, congregate setting or other venue in order to reduce the risk of spreading infection.  

Do not test:  Individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days should not test again until the 90 days have passed, unless experiencing new symptoms. If experiencing new symptoms the individual should test with an antigen/rapid test.

Where to Get Tested

Testing will be available daily during school hours at each school site upon request during school hours and at SCUSD regional testing centers.  For more information about current testing availability, please visit

Download COVID-19 Testing Registration Flyer

Screening testing may be offered and is subject to change based on current conditions, current public health guidance, and availability of test supplies and staffing.  Anyone experiencing symptoms through the school day or had a known exposure to COVID-19 will be offered onsite testing before going home. 

Surveillance testing provided for higher risk activities/groups: High-risk groups are those who might be at high risk of severe COVID-19 that could benefit from early identification and treatment. High risk activities are those that involve increased and forceful exhalation which can pose increased risk for spreading and getting COVID-19, particularly if conducted indoors without the use of masks. 

High risk groups and individuals who participate in high-risk activities such as band, orchestra, drama, choir, athletics, and other related activities are strongly encouraged to participate in regular Covid testing.  A testing day/time will be provided weekly at large high schools and middle schools to support surveillance testing for groups, activities and programs.  Individuals in these groups or activities may also use Over-the Counter (OTC) tests at home.  All OTC tests results should be reported to Primary Health. (CDPH School Testing for COVID)

Community members are encouraged to stock as supply of over-the-counter (OTC) tests in their home in the event of an exposure or symptoms.  OTC tests may be ordered for free through  Health insurance companies also provide access to OTC tests.

Types of COVID-19 tests available:  

 Self-administered BinaxNOW rapid antigen test 

  • Swab sample collected from the nostril – self administered
  • Not processed in a laboratory
  • Observed, processed and reported by a trained staff member
  • Results are provided after 15-30 minutes
  • Detects high viral load, not as sensitive as the PCR test
  • May be used for routine screening, anyone experiencing symptoms, or exposed to COVID-19

Self-administered Over-the-Counter/At-Home rapid antigen test

  • Swab sample collected from the nostril – self administered
  • Processed at-home by the individual or parent/guardian
  • Self-reported and resulted uploaded through the Primary Health website or call number
  • Results are provided after 15-30 minutes
  • Detects high viral load, not as sensitive as the PCR test
  • May be used for routine screening, anyone experiencing symptoms, or exposed to COVID-19
  • More information on how to report an OTC/At-Home result may be found at

 Self-administered PCR test 

  • Swab sample collected from the nostrils – self administered
  • Molecular test processed in a laboratory
  • Results in 24-48 hours 
  • PCR is the most sensitive COVID test and is  considered diagnostic for COVID-19

4. Screen for Symptoms and Stay Home When Sick

Staff and students must self-screen for symptoms at home daily. If a person is sick or exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, they may not come to school and must follow the Illness and Symptoms Guidelines for Staff and Students (Appendix B).  

Symptoms of illness include fever (100.4 or higher) or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea per CDC guidelines

Stay home until the following CDPH criteria to return to school are met:

 10 days have passed and at least 24 hours fever free and other symptoms improved


Present a negative COVID-19 test and at least 24 hours fever free and other symptoms improved


Present a note from a healthcare provider that confirms that current symptoms are from a chronic condition or other disease process and symptoms improved​.

Chronic Conditions

Individuals with non-infectious chronic conditions should not be excluded from attending school or work. If a student or staff member has documented chronic allergic or asthmatic symptoms (e.g., cough or runny nose), a doctor may diagnose an illness other than COVID-19 and provide a note for return to school earlier than 10 days. If there are significant and obvious respiratory symptoms the person must stay home until symptoms improve.  If there are questions about individual cases, contact your school nurse or Health Services.


Allergy symptoms are the same as early COVID-19 symptoms.  Many people who test positive for Covid remark, “I just thought it was my allergies.”  If a person has allergy symptoms they should test to rule out COVID-19.  If the test is negative and symptoms improve they can come to work or school. If allergies are chronic and documented by a physician the person should test twice weekly while symptomatic. See Appendix B.

Identifying Sick or Exposed Persons on Site

Any student or staff with symptoms of COVID-19 or who are required to quarantine per CDC guidelines may not enter the school site and will be advised to return home. 

A list of screening questions will be provided = upon entry to the school or work site.

Students and staff must enter through entry and exit locations at each site.  

  • Provide clear signage visible at all entries with the symptom checklist..  
  • When face masks are required, students and staff approaching indoor entries should be wearing a face mask. Face masks will be available for those who do not have their own
  • Any individual experiencing symptoms of illness must be directed to the care room, offered COVID-19 testing with consent, and sent home.
  • Any individual exhibiting one or more symptoms throughout the day will be offered COVID-19 testing and required to wait in the identified care area with a face mask on until they can be taken home or to a healthcare facility, as soon as possible.

5. Hand Hygiene

All students and staff must wash hands frequently. Soap products marketed as “antimicrobial” are not necessary or recommended. If soap and water are not available, use district-approved greater than 60% ethyl alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Training on effective hand washing and use of sanitizer must be provided to all students and staff. Children under age 9 should only use hand sanitizer under adult supervision. Call Poison Control if consumed: 1-800-222-1222.

The following guidelines are recommended for school settings. At minimum, students and staff must wash their hands or use hand sanitizer.

  • Upon arrival to the school site 
  • Before lunch
  • Before leaving the site
  • Upon entry to any new classroom
  • When using the restroom
  • When visibly dirty
  • After using a tissue, coughing into hands
  • Upon arriving home

6. Respiratory Hygiene

Use respiratory hygiene at all times on site. Once a tissue is used, throw it away in a waste container and then wash hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. Do not touch the face.  Reinforce  respiratory hygiene or cough/sneeze etiquette, including use of tissues and elbows by using signage, training, and lessons.  See Appendix H for signage.

7. Contact Tracing & Reporting COVID-19 Cases

Expecting and planning for the occurrence of one or more cases of COVID-19 helps the district respond immediately to mitigate the impact, minimize spread of COVID within the school/work site, and allow the school/work site to remain open.  

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community,  SCUSD Health Services will conduct COVID-19 contact tracing within the district. 

  • Any individual who tests positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to COVID-19 must immediately notify their school-site administrator or supervisor.  
  • If an Over the Counter/At-Home Test was taken – remind the individual to upload results to Primary Health.
  • Administrators/supervisors must immediately email the District COVID Response Team at
  • Contact tracers will contact the individual or their parent/guardian to conduct contact tracing as it impacts district staff and students.


  • In line with CDPH Group Tracing Approach, when there is an exposure on a school site or school activity, exposure notices will be sent to the entire classroom/activity. 
  • For exposures outside of school or in households the district will follow SCPH guidelines.
  • Isolation and quarantine guidelines for staff will follow Cal/OSHA requirements.

See Basic Isolation and Quarantine Guidance for Families, Students and Staff and Appendix C: SCPH Decision Forest for further details and guidance.

8. Ventilation

SCUSD is ensuring there is sufficient ventilation in all school classrooms and shared workspaces per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air- Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE).

  • HVAC filters are replaced per manufacturer recommendations.  HVAC units that can be retrofitted to accept MERV-13 filters have been; portable HEPA filtration systems are available and shall be used in all other spaces and are designed for the size of the space.
  • HVAC units are programmed to turn-on and run continuously for a minimum of 2 hours before and for a minimum of 2 hours after classrooms are occupied.
  • The HVAC system is designed to maximize the circulation and filtration of air.  Windows and doors may be opened so long as it is deemed safe to do so.
  • Portable HEPA filtration units have been provided for spaces that need additional filtration considerations such as cafeterias and other school/work spaces. Portable HEPA filtration units provided to spaces MUST be plugged-in and utilized correctly.  
    • Work with your SPOM for filter changes when a red light appears.
    • Portable HEPA filtration units should be placed in an area where air flow is not obstructed.
  • Specific practices to avoid:
    • Classrooms or buses with no ventilation or additional airflow
    • Classrooms or buses with increased airflow across occupants (e.g., oscillating or box fans blowing into the classroom

9. Poor Air Quality

Schools must balance the COVID-19 prevention benefits of ventilation and outdoor activity with the outdoor air quality.  On projected poor air quality days schools will monitor Air Now and Spare the Air websites for air quality readings. When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is poor schools are advised to close windows and doors.

When you can visibly see or smell smoke or AQI is 151 or over:

  • Close all windows and doors
  • Adjust HVAC systems to prevent outdoor air from being pulled into the building when possible
  • Eat in the multiple purpose room, other available spaces, or the classroom
  • Move outdoor activities indoors
  • Follow all guidance issued by CDPH or SCPH about air quality and COVID mitigation
  • When face masks are not required – all individuals are strongly encouraged to face mask when indoors

10. Cold Weather

Schools must balance the COVID-19 prevention benefits of ventilation with cold weather.  Individuals are advised to dress warmly as cold weather approaches.  On cold days doors and windows should remain cracked if possible to ensure increased ventilation. Portable HEPA filtration units provided to spaces where MERV-13 filtration is not available MUST be plugged-in and utilized correctly.

11. Disinfecting Procedures

Disinfecting Procedure

Regularly disinfect high-touch areas daily.  Frequently touched surfaces in the school include, but are not limited to:

  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Sink handles
  • Bathroom surfaces
  • Tables
  • Student Desks
  • Chairs 

If an individual who is positive for COVID has been physically present, the spaces where the individual spent a large proportion of their time (e.g., classroom office) should be disinfected. Frequent disinfection can pose a health risk to children and students due to the strong chemicals often used and so is not recommended in the school setting unless a positive case of COVID has been identified. 

Consistent with recommendations by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the district strives to select disinfectant products with ingredients that reduce the impact on those with asthma.

Inventory Controls

  • Order supplies for start and plan for inventory management
    • Face masks for students and staff routinely stocked in every room and all entrances.Individuals may use their own face covering that meets all current requirements
    • Disposable face masks for care room
    • Face shields or goggles for care room and for teachers
    • Hand sanitizer – in every room, used by every individual entering
    • Spray bottles and disinfectant and paper towels- every room to clean surfaces 
    • Gloves – for use in case of vomiting or helping sick or injured student
    • Thermometers – thermometer needed at each site for care room
    • Handwashing stations if insufficient sink access at sites
  • Backstock of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Proper ordering procedures from central location/system
  • Use of district-approved products only

Some items an individual may normally use at home are not allowed for use in schools due to State and Federal policies in place for student health and safety, unless properly trained by the California Department of Pesticide Regulations.  Aerosol spray containers are not allowed on school property for safety reasons.  While the district is making every effort to ensure that supplies are replenished at our school sites, the following is a list of items the District can recommend for individual procurement and use:

Hand Sanitizer – It is recommended that hand sanitizer be at least 60% ethyl alcohol based in order to kill the virus and any other bacteria. 

Disinfecting  Wipes – Disinfecting wipes are effective and allowable, but it is important to read and follow all instructions. 

It is critical that individuals read and follow the directions for any cleaning product every time before use.

12. Physical Distancing 

Physical distance has been shown to reduce transmission and although distance criteria per CDPH are no longer required in schools, all individuals should maintain as much physical distance as practicably possible.  

13. Supporting Mental Well-Being

The COVID pandemic is deeply impacting the mental health and well-being of our entire community.  Impacts to economic stability, housing, education, access to physical and mental health care, basic needs and the loss of loved ones continue and are exacerbated in many communities facing systemic inequities and health disparities. Coping strategies are taxed or exhausted, leading to a range of emotional and behavioral responses for adults and children. The uncertainty of evolving variants coupled with constantly changing conditions and requirements has led to an increase in anxiety and depression symptoms. 

SCUSD remains committed to meeting the needs of our staff and students during this time of collective crisis and is working to expand mental health support to all school sites.  SCUSD’s Student Support Centers provide a spectrum of integrated support to all students and families that spans the areas of youth development, family services, academic enrichment, health and mental health services and supports.

  • To find the most current listing of Student Support Center staff assigned to schools – visit  
  • All families, students and staff may also access Care Solace – a complimentary and confidential service to find mental health or substance use care available regardless of your insurance status. Care Solace’s team is available 24/7/365 and can support you in any language.
    • Call 888-515-0595 available 24/7/365
    • Visit and either search on your own OR click “Book Appointment” for assistance by video chat, email, or phone.