Return Health Mitigation Standards

Mitigation Standards for 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 of at least 6 feet, 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

  • Sites will replace all HVAC filters 2-3 times per year as recommended rather than once a year as is practiced. 
  • Sites will run continuous HVAC fans operating throughout the 24-hour cycle. 
  • Reprogram HVAC systems to run when windows and doors are open. 
  • Keep windows and doors open, if possible, to increase airflow. 

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 cloth face coverings at entrances. 

Essential Visitors

  • District locations and school campuses must remain closed to non-essential visitors or volunteers.
  • 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. See below Accessing School Sites.
  • Staff will not bring other individuals with them to the work site who are not employees or who do not have valid business at the worksite.

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, a solution of 70% alcohol or a disinfecting wipe before distributing or upon collection.


  • 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 are visibility posted and enforced.
  • Provide various spaces for individuals to take their breaks, such as shady outdoor spaces or alternate rooms.
  • Provide alternate break times so that staff do not congregate in spaces together.
  • Since staff may be eating or drinking during break time and will need to remove their face covering, staff are encouraged to utilize outdoor spaces for breaks.
  • Provide hand sanitizer and/or soap and disinfectant near any shared objects.
  • Staff are strongly discouraged from driving together in a vehicle to socialize during break times or meals, unless they reside in the same household.

Common Areas

  • Evaluate areas such as waiting rooms, staff break rooms, work rooms, yards, quads, library, cafeteria and playgrounds and make modifications for physical distancing, for example: dots 6 feet apart, squares, lines, arrows, and taped-off barriers.
  • Provide additional access to hand washing, hand sanitizer and/or disinfectant – especially near shared objects.
  • Drinking fountains will be closed – 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 at least 6 ft distancing of 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 cloth 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 be assessed and go home. 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, face masks, 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 as much physical distance and ventilation as possible. 

Cohorting Groups

Cohorting (sometimes called podding) is a strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting cross-over contact between groups. These strategies work by keeping groups individuals together, such as students and staff. Individuals within a cohort will limit physical proximity with other cohorts as much as practically possible. In secondary school cohorting may not be possible. 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.

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.
  • 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.


  • 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:
    • Six feet of distance between all student desks/seating 
    • 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 6 feet of 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 
  • 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.

  • 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 transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets, such as band and choir practice and performances, singing, yelling, chanting, and blowing wind instruments are not permitted at this time. Educational activities that involve singing, such as an opening or closing song of the day, must only take place outdoors.

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 of 6 feet and use of face masks. This will result in fewer students in the locker room at a time.

  • For sports that cannot be conducted with sufficient distancing or cohorting, only physical conditioning and training is permitted and only where physical distancing can be maintained. Conditioning and training should focus on individual skill building (e.g., running drills and body weight resistance training) and should take place outside, where practicable. Indoor physical conditioning and training is allowed only in counties where gyms and fitness centers are allowed to operate indoors.
  • Avoid equipment sharing, and if unavoidable, clean and disinfect shared equipment between use by different people to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Consistent with guidance for gyms and fitness facilities, cloth face coverings must be worn during indoor physical conditioning and training or physical education classes (except when showering).
  • Activities that require heavy exertion should be conducted outside in a physically distanced manner without face coverings. Activities conducted inside should be those that do not require heavy exertion and can be done with a face covering.
  • 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.
  • 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. For example, tournaments, events, or competitions, regardless of whether teams are from the same school or from different schools, counties, or states 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.
  • Cafeterias: Serve meals outdoors or in classrooms instead of cafeterias or group dining rooms where practicable. Where cafeterias or group dining rooms must be used, keep students together in their cohort groups, ensure physical distancing, and consider assigned seating. Serve individually plated or bagged meals. Avoid sharing of foods and utensils and buffet or family-style meals.
  • 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. 
  • Post clear signage for occupancy, hygiene, distancing. 
  • Provide supplies for disinfecting surfaces between students. 

Recess/Yards and Playspaces

  • 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 6 feet of space from other children as much as possible.
    • When possible, build in visual cues that demonstrate physical spacing.
    • Cloth face coverings may be removed when students are outside in the yard playing, moving and maintaining physical distancing of at least 6 feet.
  • Evaluate feasibility of opening play structures with the need to disinfect, as well as the risks of disinfecting high touch areas of the play structure between groups.
  • Allow flexibility in recess policies and the use of teacher time to allow for supervision of classroom recess.
  • If picnic benches or seating are available outside - provide visual cues to reinforce 6 feet of spacing. 

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 6-foot distancing at bus stops and while loading and unloading.
  • All riders must wear a cloth 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 a full 6 feet of 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 cleaned and 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.