Health & Safety Guidebook

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

Vision & Core Values

What are the key considerations when planning for a return to campus?

Students and families across America are looking forward to the upcoming school year, and school systems are diligently preparing. But this school year will be like none other, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic—and consequences of the extended school facility closures it caused—adds complexity to the already challenging work of preparing for the start of school. Now, more than ever, school systems will need to pay particular attention to keeping students safe while ensuring that all students—especially those who are members of vulnerable populations—have access to strong instruction and the support they need in order to succeed. During these next months, school systems must also focus on addressing the social-emotional needs of students and on maintaining good communication and transparency with stakeholders to help families through this unprecedented era in education. Increased collaboration with public health systems and officials will bring new perspectives to the running of schools and strengthen the public response to COVID-19. Through it all, California educators will continue to rise to the challenge of mitigating risk while accelerating learning in the era of COVID-19.

Aligning with Current Vision and Mission  

Develop your reopening plan around your community’s existing goals and plans. Use your LCAP goals and existing values to design for continuity of learning. Given current constraints, it is more important than ever that school leaders strategically use people, time, physical space, and money to support learning under various scenarios and provide flexibility to move among them with as little disruption as possible.


TOOL: CCEE K12 Playbook tips and suggestions for setting goals and defining success  


Keeping Students and Staff Safe  

In this unprecedented time, prioritizing the safety of students and staff—in remote, hybrid, or in-person learning—according to the latest guidance from public health experts is one of the foremost responsibilities of school systems. To help you through this process, this Health & Safety Guidebook highlights some of the latest guidance available from the State of California and some additional information around six key considerations that should be part of any plan: face coverings, physical distancing, handwashing, cleaning & sanitizing, and testing & tracing.


TOOL: CCEE’s Six Key Considerations one-pager. 


Designing for Equity 

Although these are unprecedented times filled with varied challenges, LEA leaders should continue to intentionally address the learning needs of the vulnerable populations most impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, including students from low-income families, students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, housing-insecure youth, and those who have experienced economic, social, physical, or psychological trauma.

To meet the needs of all students, consider those who are most vulnerable first. Building technology, staffing, and scheduling plans that support the needs of the most vulnerable students—including students living in poverty, students of color, students with disabilities, ELs, and housing-insecure youth—are critical to ensuring their success this school year.


TOOL: Equity and Continuity of Learning One-Pager from the CCEE Playbooks 


Addressing the Social-emotional and Academic Needs of Students 

Prioritize safe, supportive, equitable environments that promote positive relationships. Social-emotional supports have always been critical attributes of healthy school environments, but students and staff will be returning to school in the fall of 2020 having experienced varying levels of social isolation, stress, anxiety, and trauma. A deeper focus on well-being, connection, and other top-tier supports will thus be needed for each student, along with deeper mental health supports for some students and adults.


Learning science affirms that teaching and learning depend on a sense of  safety and belonging.  Neuroscientist Bruce Perry offers a simple “3 Rs” framework to inform practice: regulate, relate, and reason. In order to effectively teach, learn, and thrive, adults and children must first feel physically and emotionally calm and settled (“regulate”), then feel socially and emotionally connected through safe and supportive relationships (“relate”), and only then can they feel ready and able to engage with formal instruction and learning (“reason”). Recognizing the effects of trauma on the brain also informs equity-focused, healing-centered practices in education (also known as trauma-informed practices). By recognizing and acknowledging specific behaviors as indicators of underlying trauma, the right assessments, policies, and interventions can be developed to support learning, healing, and resilience.


TOOL: CCEE K12 Playbook tips and suggestions for supporting social-emotional learning  




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

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.