Return Health Mitigation Requirements

Mitigation Requirements for Students and Staff
Return to Health


To help prevent additional spread and to keep our schools open, our students and staff will be required to practice the following personal prevention measures:

Health Screening

Passive (Self) Screening

Staff and students must self-screen  for symptoms at home daily. This is called passive screening (see subsequent pages for screening questions).

Symptoms of illness

If a person is sick or exhibits any symptoms of COVID-19, they may not come to school and will follow Stay at Home and Return to School Requirements (Appendix B). Signs of illness include fever or chills (100.4 degrees or higher), 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. They must stay home until ONE OF the following are met:

  • At least 24 hours without fever, and symptoms have improved, and a COVID-19 test is negative, OR
  • At least ten days has passed since first symptoms appeared, OR
  • A healthcare provider gives documentation that the symptoms are from an underlying chronic condition or other district process
Chronic Conditions

Individuals with non-infectious chronic conditions should not be excluded from attending school or work. For instance, an individual with allergy symptoms may have congestion, but is not a reason to exclude them from attending work or school. If a student or staff member has chronic allergic or asthmatic symptoms (e.g., cough or runny nose), then a change in their typical symptoms (new symptoms or worsening of symptoms) would be considered a new symptom. 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 questions about individual cases, contact your school nurse or Health Services. Individuals may return to work/school if released by their physician.

Exposed to COVID-19

If a person has had close contact, defined as within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes within the last 10 days, with a person with confirmed COVID-19 they must stay home in quarantine for 14 days from the last date of contact. If an individual in the home is suspected of having COVID and is awaiting test results, all other individuals should remain home until test results are confirmed.


For travel outside the local area (i.e. more than 120 miles from one’s residence), the CDPH Travel Advisory strongly advises individuals stay home in self-quarantine for 14 days from the date they returned home, monitor health, and practice physical distancing.  CDC and CDPH recommends avoiding all nonessential travel. If you must travel, follow the recommendations in the Global COVID-19 Pandemic Notice, in addition to any travel health recommendations provided on the webpage for your destination and in relevant notices below.

Download Screen at Home - 4 Questions and Instructions

Active Screening - Temperature Checks and Identifying Sick or Exposed Persons on Site

Active screening requires all students and staff entering a site to be screened for illness and exposure including a temperature check and review of signs and symptoms of illness. Any student or staff with symptoms of COVID or who are required to quarantine per CDC guidelines may not enter the school site and will be advised to return home.

SCUSD will be implementing a daily reminder system for home screening through an online screening application for families, students and staff. For those who do not have access to the application, a list of screening questions will be provided for daily review at home and upon entry to the school or work site.

Students and staff must enter through required controlled entry and exit locations at each site. Sites shall set up controlled entry and exit screening locations and ensure staff and students understand and follow disease prevention precautions. Students and staff approaching the entry must be wearing a face covering. Face coverings will be available for those who do not have their own. If possible, parents/guardians should remain with their student(s) until they are admitted to site in case the student(s) needs to return home.

Process for Daily Student Screening

  • Students will wait in a line with appropriate physical distancing, and visual cues will be used to indicate spacing. Signage with reminders about distancing, masks, hygiene, and stay-at-home requirements and screening criteria will be posted.
  • If possible, have the parent/guardian remain with the student while screening occurs, in case the student is not well enough to attend school.
  • Staff instructions for student screening:
    • Take temperature
    • Look at the person for any visible signs of illness
    • Ask if they meet any of the criteria on the screening signage – or have them show their clearance on the screening app
  • If the temperature is less than 100.4 degrees, the student reports no sign or symptoms of illness, no exposure to COVID-19, no recent travel, and the student appears well, direct the student to wash hands and enter campus.
  • Any student not meeting any of the screening criteria must be sent home or directed to the care room until they can go home.
  • Any students or staff exhibiting one or more symptoms throughout the day will be required to wait in the identified care area until they can be taken home or to a healthcare facility, as soon as possible.

Physical Distancing

Everyone must practice physical distancing from other people at all times. Maintaining adequate space helps us avoid exposure to COVID-19 and slow its spread. At least 3 feet of physical distance must be maintained in classrooms between students and 6 feet between students and adults or adults to adults, with adherence to face covering requirements.  Appropriate physical distancing indoors can sometimes be difficult to maintain, such as when walking in a busy hallway or in large crowds, making required face coverings even more vital. 

Staff who work in a space together, such as an office or classroom, must ensure they maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet at all times, and must wear a face covering when in space with other individuals. Staff may not create their own bubble where these measures are breached. Individuals must eat and drink in designated spaces and maintain more than six feet of distance from other persons. The space must be well-ventilated — eating outdoors is best if weather permits.

Face Coverings

Use Face Coverings 

Wearing a face covering prevents a person from spreading respiratory droplets while talking, singing, breathing, or coughing. They are meant to protect both the wearer and other people in case the wearer is unknowingly infected (many people who have COVID-19 do not have symptoms).  Face coverings are one of the best tools we have to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Face coverings protect our community from the spread of COVID-19

  • All SCUSD staff, students in all grades, parents/guardians and visitors are required to wear a face covering indoors unless they are exempted by a physician or it is inappropriate for the age or developmental level of the individual. Fully vaccinated individuals must continue to wear a face covering during school and work.
  • In general, unvaccinated individuals (children or adults)  do not need to wear a mask outdoors, however people who are not fully vaccinated must wear a mask in crowded outdoor settings. Individuals participating in activities that involve sustained close contact (i.e. sports that require close contact) must continue to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors.
  • For staff who come into routine contact with others, CDPH recommends the use of disposable 3-ply surgical masks.  SCUSD will provide surgical masks to staff in regular contact with others.
  • Individuals may wear a face covering of their choosing that meets CDPH requirements, however SCUSD will also provide face coverings to all individuals who need them.  Face coverings should have 2 or more layers of breathable material, completely cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the wearer’s face and nose. See the CDC Guide to Masks for further information.
  • Face coverings must be worn at all times including while:
    • Entering or exiting school grounds or district spaces
    • Participants in youth and adult sports should wear face coverings when participating in the activity, even with heavy exertion, for all indoor activities.  Sports that are conducted outdoors with close contact also require a face covering. 
    • On school grounds with few exceptions
    • While on a school bus
    • Engaged in work, whether at the workplace or performing work off-site, when:
      • Interacting in-person with another individual
      • Working in any space visited by multiple people such as the front office, staff room, or hallways

Face Shields 

  • In limited situations where a face covering cannot be used for pedagogical or developmental reasons, (e.g., communicating or assisting young children or those with special needs) a face shield with a drape (per CDPH guidelines) can be used instead of a face covering while in the classroom as long as the wearer maintains physical distance from others. Staff must return to wearing a face covering outside of the classroom.
  • Face shields with a cloth drape can be used for those who are unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons. Per CDE and Cal/OSHA, considerations for face shields should include a cloth drape attached across the bottom and tucked into the shirt.
  • Staff must maintain physical distance from others, to the extent practicable.
  • Participants engaged in recreational play or in youth and adult sports should wear face coverings when participating in activity, even with heavy exertion as tolerated, for all indoor activities. Sports that are conducted outdoors with close contact also require a face covering. 
  • Staff must return to wearing a face covering when a face shield is no longer needed, and outside of the classroom.

Guidance for daily use of face coverings

  • Use a freshly washed or clean face covering for each onsite visit. 
  • Clean your hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer before touching the face covering. 
  • If you are not already wearing it, apply your face covering before coming onto the worksite.
  • Avoid touching the face covering.
  • Avoid eating or drinking while wearing the face covering. 
  • Face coverings should not have valves, as these permit droplet release from the covering, putting others nearby at risk. SCUSD will not permit face coverings with valves. 

How to remove a face covering

  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer before touching the face covering. Avoid touching the front of the covering, which is contaminated. 
  • Only handle the face covering by the ties, bands or loops. 
  • Throw any disposable face covering in a waste container. 
  • Wash your face cloth covering by hand with warm water and soap or in the washing machine.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer. 

California state guidance allows for times when a face cloth covering can be temporarily removed in the following situations: 

  • When people are eating or drinking.  Individuals must eat and drink in designated spaces and maintain more than six feet of distance 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
  • Persons who are engaged in outdoor work or recreation when alone

When a face covering is temporarily removed, it should be placed in a clean paper bag (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.

Brief Face Covering Breaks

Students may need limited face covering break throughout the day.  Signs students may display include fidgeting with the front of the face covering or removing it.  If a student removes their face covering, have them step outside until they are able to put their face covering back on. 

Check to see if the face covering is wet or soiled – provide a new face covering if needed.

Face covering breaks may be provided to individuals or a cohort on a limited basis, however the guidelines below must be strictly followed - 

  • Face covering breaks may only be taken outdoors with physical distancing of more than 6 feet
  • Time limited – typically 5-10 minutes
  • Follow the established procedures for safety removing and putting on a face covering

A face covering should not be worn in the following situations

  • Young children, especially those under age 2.
  • For individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, where the ability to see the mouth is essential for communication. Face shields would be recommended in this situation
  • Persons with a developmental delay, medical condition, mental health condition, or disability that prevents wearing a face covering. This includes persons who are unable to remove a face covering without assistance. CDPH notes such medical conditions are rare
  • Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition must be confirmed by the school district health team, therapist or medical provider.
  • Spaces that are used by a person who cannot tolerate face coverings are less safe for others who share that environment. Schools will notify others who share those spaces. Additional mitigation strategies will be added to optimize safety such as longer social distances, clear plastic barriers, reducing duration of time in a shared environment, using outdoor or other highly ventilated spaces as possible.

What if a person refuses to wear a face covering? 

Continual efforts will be made using positive reinforcement teaching strategies to ensure face coverings 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. In the event that a student who is not exempt from wearing a face covering continually refuses to wear one, the CDPH requires schools to provide distance learning for these individuals.

Hand Hygiene

All students and staff must wash hands frequently

All students and staff must wash hands frequently. Soap products marketed as “antimicrobial” are not necessary or recommended.  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 

Promote 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 K for signage. 

Stable Groups/Cohorting

Assigning stable groups or cohorting is a strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting cross-over contact between groups and reducing the number of exposed individuals if one person is infected with COVID-19. These strategies work by keeping groups of individuals together, such as students and staff. Individuals within a cohort will limit physical proximity with other cohorts as much as practically possible. 

Staff working in offices or departments should work in separate areas or cohorts as much as possible to ensure that essential functions may continue in the event staff is impacted by COVID.  For example, if two staff typically work in a front office space they should work in separate spaces, trading off staffing the front office desk for breaks. These practices limit close contact and ensure if someone is quarantined or isolated to due to COVID, other staff members will not be impacted.

When developing cohorts, it is important to consider services for students, including but not limited to students with disabilities and English language learners, so that they may receive necessary services within the cohort while ensuring equity, integration, and all legal mandates.  If itinerant staff (e.g., speech language pathologists, teachers providing targeted supports, school psychologists, etc.) are required to provide services within existing cohorts, all mitigation measures will be followed. Itinerant staff members must follow all sign-in and out procedures at schools/work sites and keep detailed contact logs in the event of a positive case or exposure to COVID.

Benefits of cohorting 
  • Decreases opportunities for exposure or transmission of COVID-19
  • Breaks the chain of potential transmission
  • Reduces contact with shared surfaces
  • Facilitates efficient communicable disease follow-up in the event of a positive case, and
  • Allows for targeted COVID-19 testing, quarantine, and/or isolation of a single cohort (i.e. classroom) in the event of a positive case within a cohort

Elementary students can be kept with the same teacher and aides. Any instruction that is provided by other teachers such as electives may be done virtually. Students eat lunch and recess with their group at different times than other groups. Accommodating separate use of facilities by stable groups may require creative changes to schedules. 

In secondary school cohorting may be more difficult. To ensure secondary students have access to the courses and content they need, students and staff may be part of several classrooms with different groups of students. Middle school and High School classes are often larger than elementary and students typically have many different teachers.  There are various approaches to maintaining stable groups and minimizing crossover of students. Students can be assigned groups with teachers rotating between groups with the teacher maintaining more than 6 feet distancing from students. Teachers can work in teams assigned to stable groups of students. For more ideas about cohorting in secondary schools, see the COVID-19 and Reopening In-Person Instruction Framework & Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools in California, 2020-2021 School Year, pages 18-21.