Return Health Mitigation Standards

Mitigation Standards for the Physical Environment at SCUSD Sites
Return to Health


To break the chain of potential transmission and to limit the risk of exposure to all our community members, we must follow the guidance below. When staff and students return to campus, they will return to a physical space that enables all individuals to follow recommended health precautions. To protect students, staff and visitors to school sites, SCUSD staff will evaluate all spaces and make modifications in order to maximize ventilation and meet physical distancing requirements and to minimize mixing between groups. This includes signage in every space with occupancy limits and health hygiene reminders. Below is a list of standards to be followed at each SCUSD site. 

All District Locations

Air Flow and 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 will be replaced 3 times per year rather than once per year as is currently the practice.  MERV-13 filters will be installed wherever possible.
  • 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.
  • HVAC systems are reprogrammed to run continuously when windows and doors are open
  • In order to maximize outside airflow, windows and doors will be opened so long as it is deemed safe to do so.
  • Portable HEPA filtration units will be provided in classrooms where MERV-13 filtration is not available.
  • 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

Entrances & Exits (Pick-Up & Drop-Off)

SCUSD will take every measure to minimize crowding at drop-off and pick-up times:

  • Consider staggering start and end times.
  • Student pick-up and drop-off should occur outside the school gates/entrance. Encourage parents to stay in cars when picking students up.
  • Add visual cues or barriers to direct traffic flow and ensure distancing if there is queuing.
  • Develop signage and processes to minimize interactions between families.
  • If possible, divide student entry points rather than funneling all students through the same entry space. These approaches can limit the amount of close contact between students in high-traffic situations and times.
  • Schools may need to lock entrances that are not set up with screening staff.
  • Provide access to hand washing or hand sanitizer and face coverings at entrances.

Essential Visitors

  • District locations and school campuses must remain closed to non-essential visitors.
  • Essential visitors include but are not limited to government agency staff conducting health and safety assessments, a parent/guardian attending an essential meeting, such as an Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting, or participating in an essential service for their student related to their educational plan. Essential visitors may also include contracted services staff performing their work at a district facility.  Staff will not bring other individuals with them to the work site who are not employees, do not have valid business at the worksite, or do not have prior permission to be present.  See below Accessing School Sites.


  • Volunteers may be permitted on a limited basis to support the implementation of health and safety protocols.  Volunteers must follow all district clearance requirements and all health and safety requirements.  To limit exposure to COVID-19, volunteers may not join the classroom or any other established cohort, and should remain outdoors.  Volunteers must wear face coverings and maintain 6 feet or more distance from others to limit close contact or exposing other individuals.  Volunteers must pass all health screening requirements before entering the campus, and must follow all sign-in and sign-out procedures for contract tracing purposes.  Volunteers must report any exposure to COVID-19 or a positive COVID-19 test immediately to the school site administration.

Shared Objects/Supplies

  • Shared objects or supplies include devices, paper packets, books, photocopiers, etc.
  • Provide individualized supplies for each individual to the extent possible.
  • Limit the number of individuals using shared objects.
  • Provide additional access to hand washing or hand sanitizer near shared objects, such as photocopiers, etc.
  • Sort and pre-fill packets of paper 24 hours prior to distribution
  • Books do not need to be sanitized, however guidelines by the American Library Association state books should be quarantined for 3 days prior to re-distribution.
  • When distributing or collecting equipment and supplies, ensure hands are frequently washed and/or disinfected.
  • Staff will clean and disinfect non-paper items with the district-approved disinfectant


  • In order to promote cohorting and limit the spread of COVID-19 among individuals and cohorts, conduct all staff meetings, professional development training and education, and other activities involving staff in a virtual space.
  • If strict physical distancing measures are in place and all other public health measures are employed, a meeting may take place physically if participants are not able to access the virtual space. See below Accessing School Sites.
  • To limit spread among school campuses and further promote the cohorting of schools, meetings with staff from multiple schools or district locations will be solely held in a virtual format.
  • Staff who visit multiple school sites should strongly consider if their work may be completed remotely. If a site visit must occur, strict adherence to all public health measures must be observed.

Break Rooms & Break Times

  • Minimize the use and congregation of adults in staff rooms, break rooms, and other settings – ensure room limits and distancing requirements are visibly posted and enforced
  • Provide various spaces for individuals to take their breaks, such as protected outdoor spaces or alternate rooms.
  • Provide alternate break times so that staff do not congregate in spaces together.
  • 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.  Individuals may not eat or drink while walking around or working within six feet of others.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and/or soap and disinfectant easily accessible at all times and near any shared objects such as equipment used by many people and doors. 
  • Staff should not drive together in a vehicle to socialize during break times or meals, unless they reside in the same household.

Common Areas

  • Modify areas such as waiting rooms, staff break rooms, work rooms, yards, quads, library, cafeteria and playgrounds to enforce physical distancing, for example: dots to indicate physical distancing requirements, squares, lines, arrows, and taped-off barriers.
  • Provide additional access to hand washing, hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant — especially near shared objects.
  • Close drinking fountains — encourage the use of reusable water bottles for students to use throughout the day.

Office Spaces

  • Provide plexiglass barriers when close contact is likely such as at the front desk that do not allow for physical distancing of at least 6 feet. 
  • Arrange staff desks at least 6 feet apart. 
  • Arrange desks and equipment away from flow of other staff members using the office. 


  • Ensure all bathrooms have soap and paper towels, refuse containers.
    • Paper towels will be provided and are recommended for use over air dryers.
  • Evaluate stalls and urinals to ensure physical distancing between users. Tape off or install barriers.
  • Post clear signage for occupancy, hygiene, distancing.
  • Avoid taking large groups to the bathrooms at once (e.g., avoid having all classes use the bathroom right after lunch or recess) or maintain distancing in a line.


  • Evaluate traffic flow and post arrows, signs and floor decals to guide flow in one direction. Provide delineator cones, stanchions or guide-ropes that create lanes in larger hallways.
  • Post signage that encourages safe greetings, the use of face coverings, and reminders to stop talking, yelling, singing, etc. while moving along hallways. 

School Sites

Designated Care Rooms

Sites must designate an area for sick individuals where they can be isolated while waiting to go home. See Appendix E. This room must be separate from the first aid room used for routine health procedures, first aid and medications.

  • Ensure good ventilation.
  • Ensure the following supplies are available: hand sanitizer, disposable face masks, face shields, gloves, disinfectant, thermometer, trash can with liner.
  • Room must be disinfected after each use. To reduce risk of exposure, wait 24 hours before you clean and disinfect. If it is not possible to wait 24 hours, wait as long as practicable. 
  • Room must be close to staff and supervised.
  • If more than one individual is sick, maintain at least 6 feet of distance between persons in the room and as much ventilation as possible.


When possible, meals will be served outdoors or in classrooms. Where cafeterias or group dining spaces must be used, students will remain in their stable groups with designated seating, physical distancing, and hand hygiene before and after eating. If indoor meal times are paired with recess or outdoor time, consider having half of a stable group of students eat while the other half is outdoors and then switch. Meals will be individually plated or bagged to avoid the sharing of utensils. Sharing of foods with members outside the household is not allowed.  


  • Sanitizer will be mounted to the wall at the doorway in every classroom.
  • Classrooms should open windows and doors if possible to maximize ventilation. 
  • Classroom layout should include:
    • Physical distancing between student desks/seating of at least 3 feet 
    • Continuous spacing of 6 feet must be provided for teaching staff at the front of the classroom.
    • Enough room near walls for students to move out of their desks. 
    • Limited use of large tables where students may slide around and breach the spacing between individuals. If using tables, mark off areas and alternate seating at each end of the table to ensure distancing.
  • Develop activities that model and reinforce good hygiene and physical distancing practices.
  • Limit sharing of materials/supplies; consider individual supply bags versus communal bins.
  • Clear off surfaces and cover bookshelves, shared spaces, and toy storage areas to limit touching or use of items.
  • For younger students:
    • Modify activities that bring students close together.
    • Use classroom materials to help students visualize the required 6-foot distance between people.
  • Activities that involve singing should be minimized and must only take place outdoors with face masks.
  • If necessary, utilize other campus spaces for instructional activities, such as lecture halls, gyms, auditoriums, cafeterias, and/or outdoors.
    • Consider holding class outdoors as much as possible. Resources about setting up outdoors classrooms can be found at School staff may take their class outside to complete an assignment in the fresh air; classes can rotate classes through an existing school garden space to use hands-on learning resources; or spread out across their playing field. Trees or other existing structures may be used to provide shade on warm days.
  • Provide supplies and protocol for disinfecting surfaces between classes or when student groups change
  • Staff will stack chairs and move trash at the end of the day in order to allow custodians to focus on more sanitizing duties
  • During times of distance learning staff may utilize the classroom for instruction provided that they follow all individual and environmental public health measures.


Activities where there is increased likelihood for aerosols, such as band practice, choir practice and performances, are permitted outdoors only, provided that at least six feet of physical distance is adhered to and the use of face coverings are implemented to the maximum extent possible.  Playing wind instruments (any instrument played by the mouth, such as a trumpet or clarinet) is discouraged. School officials, staff, parents, and students should be aware of the increased likelihood for transmission from exhaled aerosols during singing and band practice.

Physical Education Classes/Athletics

Physical education (PE) and intramural/interscholastic athletics should be limited to activities that do not involve physical contact with other students or equipment until advised otherwise by state/local public health officials. Ensure Personal Hygiene Precautions (Appendix D) in locker rooms, including physical distancing and use of face masks. This will result in fewer students in the locker room at a time.

  • Sports equipment must be designated and marked for each cohort youth sports group. This equipment will not be used by any other cohort youth sports group until it is disinfected.
  • Participants will wash their hands/ or use hand sanitizer prior to and immediately following activities where equipment and/or balls are handled by multiple individuals.
  • All athletic equipment must be disinfected after use by each cohort group. Coaches, trainers and other staff are responsible for ensuring all equipment used by students/athletes and coaches is sanitized after each use.
  • Avoid equipment sharing, and if unavoidable, disinfect shared equipment between use by different people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Activities that require heavy exertion should be conducted outside in a physically distanced manner. 
    • Consistent with guidance for gyms and fitness facilities, face coverings must be worn during indoor physical conditioning and training or physical education classes (except when showering).
    • Face coverings may be removed for outdoor conditioning or activity that does not require close contact.  If the sport requires close contact (i.e. football), then face coverings must be worn. Please note this guidance may change in the near future.
      • Players should take a break from exercise if any difficulty in breathing is noted and should change their mask or face covering if it becomes wet and sticks to the player’s face and obstructs breathing. Masks that restrict airflow under heavy exertion (such as N-95 masks) are not advised for exercise.
  • There should be no shared athletic supplies, such as towels, clothing, shoes, or sports specific supplies, between students.
  • Youth sports programs and schools will provide information to parents or guardians regarding these guidelines, along with the safety measures that will be in place in these settings with which parents or guardians must comply

Large Gatherings – i.e., meetings, field trips & assemblies

  • Outdoor and indoor sporting events, assemblies, dances, rallies, field trips, and other activities that require close contact or that would promote congregating are not permitted at this time. 
  • Transitioning field trips to virtual opportunities.
  • Change events to a virtual format where appropriate.
  • (See Meeting section above) In order to promote cohorting and limit the spread of COVID-19 among individuals and cohorts of classes, conduct meetings, professional development training and education, and other activities involving staff in a virtual space.

Large Gathering Spaces – i.e. libraries, cafeterias & quads

  • Libraries: Develop standardized check-out & check-in procedures for distributing materials. Library spaces should remain closed due to the number of items and spaces that may be touched, however items may be distributed following the “Shared Objects/Supplies” guidelines.
  • Other large spaces: ensure occupancy, physical distancing measures, face coverings and all other public health measures are employed.

Support areas

  • Consider providing a safe place for students who need additional supports, study areas, after school tutoring, or internet access during distance learning. 
  • Set up these areas to comply with distancing guidelines using tape, signage etc.
  • Provide access to hand washing or hand sanitizer and face coverings at entrances.
  • Post clear signage for occupancy, hygiene, distancing. 
  • Provide supplies for disinfecting surfaces between students. 

Recess/Yards and Playspaces

Playgroup equipment may be utilized following the guidelines below.

  • Maintain cohorts or small groups; discourage mixing of large groups of students. 
  • Stagger playground use rather than allowing multiple classes to play together.
  • Limit activities where multiple classes interact.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after recess.
  • Maintain at least 3 feet of space from other children as much as possible.
    • When possible, build in visual cues that demonstrate physical spacing.
    • Face coverings may be removed when students are outside in the yard playing, moving and maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • If used, outdoor playgrounds/natural play areas only need routine maintenance. Students must wash or sanitize their hands before and after using these spaces 
  • Allow flexibility in recess policies and the use of teacher time to allow for supervision of classroom recess.
  • If picnic benches or seating is available outside — provide visual cues to reinforce physical distancing.

School Bus/Transportation

All Personal Hygiene Guidance must be followed on the school bus. In order to practice physical distancing on a school bus, the seating capacity must be reduced. This may necessitate the use of a seating chart to designate which seats are available.

  • Educate parents and students on the steps they must take to keep others safe during loading and unloading.
  • If a student appears visibly sick, parents will be asked to take the student home and follow Stay at Home Requirements (Appendix B).
  • Ensure physical distancing at bus stops and while loading and unloading.
  • All riders must wear a face covering while waiting for the bus and while riding the bus, unless contraindicated.
  • Each rider must use hand sanitizer before entering the bus.
  • CDPH guidance acknowledges that physical distancing may not be practicable on buses, therefore face coverings are essential. Physical distancing should be maximized to the extent practicable.
  • Ensure good ventilation with open/partially open windows.
  • Prevent students from walking past each other by taking the following measures: Seat students from the rear of the bus forward.Board students for the after school route based on the order in which students will be dropped off. Students who get off first should board last and sit in the front.
  • Buses should be thoroughly disinfected daily and after transporting any individual who is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Bus drivers should be provided disinfectant and disposable gloves to support disinfection of frequently touched surfaces during the day.
  • Students living in the same household may sit together on the bus.

Classroom Pets

At this time, more research is needed about the transmission of COVID between people and pets.  The CDC advises that animals that are at higher risk for infection with COVID-19 in the classroom are not allowed at this time. This includes animals such as cats, dogs, and small mammals like ferrets, hamsters, and rabbits.  For service dogs, however, the benefits of having the dog in the classroom for a particular individual can outweigh the risks for infection. A team decision, including but not limited to parent, student, student’s healthcare provider, administrator, teacher and school nurse will make decisions to allow service animals in the classroom on a case-by-case basis.  The team will refer to CDC guidance for Handlers of Service or Therapy Animals when making these decisions.