Health & Safety Guidebook

Minimize Risk to Accelerate Learning in the Era of COVID-19

On January 14, 2021, new health and safety guidance went into effect for all schools in California.

This site will soon be updated to reflect all new guidance. In the meantime, find a comprehensive overview of guidance updates by clicking below. 

Watch the “Introduction to the Health & Safety Guidebook ” webinar to learn more about the guidebook and how it  was developed to support LEAs in returning to in-person instruction safely. 

The Guidebook

The Health & Safety Guidebook is designed for local educational agency (LEA) leadership teams planning a safe return to at school, in-person instruction in a way that maximizes future equity outcomes and addresses the diverse needs of California’s students while continuously adapting to the challenges posed by COVID-19.


Building on the COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Schools and School Based Program issued by the California Department of Public Health, these guidelines and considerations are based on the best available public health data at this time, international best practices currently employed, and the practical realities of managing school operations, as new data and practices emerge. All decisions about following this guidance should be made in collaboration with local health officials and other authorities. Implementation of this guidance should be tailored for each setting, including adequate consideration of instructional programs operating at each school site and the needs of students and families. School leaders should engage relevant stakeholders—including families, staff and labor partners in the school community— to formulate and implement comprehensive plans that address six key considerations: face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning & sanitizing, testing & tracing, and cohorting.


The purpose of this guidebook is to support the safe reopening of schools by providing rationale, tools, and resources for LEAs to use or adapt to address action steps to support the community health context, facilities and school operations, safe school environments, and cohorts and schedules.

For more information about how this tool was created and answers to other questions, see the FAQ section.  


When can students and staff return to campus?
  • Establish Key Liaisons
  • Criteria for Reopening
  • Elementary School Waiver
  • Early Return For Small Groups
  • Special Circumstances
  • Criteria for Considering Closure
  • Child Care on Campus
  • Site Specific Protection Plan
  • Transparent Communications

Facilities & School Operations

How do we prepare for the return to campus?
  • Use of Space
  • Nutrition / Meal Services
  • Cleaning and Disinfecting
  • Ventilation
  • Transportation
  • Reporting an Outbreak
  • Procurement of Supplies
  • Technology Considerations

Safe School Environments

What happens when we are back on campus?
  • Protective Equipment
  • Enhanced Hygiene Practices
  • Preparing Staff
  • Entry & Exit From Schools
  • Daily Symptoms Screening
  • Testing for COVID-19 & Reporting
  • Non Allowable Activities
  • Considerations for Families

Cohorts For
Safe Learning

How can we structure student groups to maximize safety?
  • Cohorting
  • Cohort Mixing
  • Small Group Targeted Support
  • Picking a Scheduling Model
The Health & Safety Guidebook for California LEAs
The Health & Safety Guidebook for California LEAs was developed in collaboration with the
California State Board of Education and other technical assistance partners.