ARCHIVED WEBPAGE: This web page is available for historical purposes. CDC is no longer updating this web page and it may not reflect CDC's current COVID-19 guidance. For the latest information, visit CDC's COVID-19 home page.

Important update: Healthcare facilities
CDC has updated select ways to operate healthcare systems effectively in response to COVID-19 vaccination. Learn more
Given new evidence on the B.1.617.2 (Delta) variant, CDC has updated the guidance for fully vaccinated people. CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Children should return to full-time in-person learning in the fall with layered prevention strategies in place.
The White House announced that vaccines will be required for international travelers coming into the United States, with an effective date of November 8, 2021. For purposes of entry into the United States, vaccines accepted will include FDA approved or authorized and WHO Emergency Use Listing vaccines. More information is available here.
Travel requirements to enter the United States are changing, starting November 8, 2021. More information is available here.

K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit

K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit

This K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit is designed for public health officials, K-12 administrators, school district officials, and occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals to assess hazards and implement mitigation strategies to reduce the spread of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) in schools. To protect students, teachers and staff, and the broader community, schools should consider implementing several of the recommended strategies, which will encourage behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19.

This toolkit is based on the Operating Schools During COVID-19: CDC’s Considerations and the Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff from COVID-19.

This toolkit includes the following materials:

Toolkit Instructions


K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit

The information in this toolkit is based on:

Operating Schools During COVID-19: CDC’s Considerations
Strategies for Protecting K-12 School Staff from COVID-19

Schools are an important part of a community; therefore, this toolkit was designed to assist schools as they reopen for in-person learning. Public health officials, K-12 administrators, school district officials, and occupational safety and health (OSH) professionals can use this toolkit in its entirety or select sections based on local health needs and priorities.

This toolkit provides an at-a-glance resource as well as checklists to prepare schools to open for in-person instruction and to manage ongoing operations during COVID-19. Schools will need to determine how often they revisit these materials as the situation and guidance for COVID-19 changes in their communities.

Important notes:

  • Use of this toolkit is voluntary
  • This toolkit is not intended to assess regulatory compliance
  • This toolkit does not replace federal, state, tribal, local, or territorial health and safety or privacy and confidentiality laws, rules, and regulations with which schools must comply
  • This toolkit is not intended to infringe on constitutional and legal protections for religious private schools
  • This toolkit may be completed independently by school staff or in consultation with state, tribal, local, and territorial public health officials or OSH professionals
  • This toolkit may be tailored based on the local guidance and the school’s need for examining mitigation strategies
  • This toolkit emphasizes the importance of reviewing external factors, such as community transmission, when making decisions about school operations


COVID-19 Resources by School Job/Position

K-12 Administrators

Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers

School Nurses and School Healthcare Professionals

Janitors and Maintenance Staff

Bus Drivers

Office Staff

School Nutrition Professionals

Coaching Staff and Athletic Trainers

COVID-19 Resources to Support Students

Paratransit Operation

Youth Sports

Other COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Basics 

Everyday Steps to Slow the Spread

Workplace Resources

Community and Faith-Based Organizations

Mental Health Resources

Tribal Nations Resource

Communication Resources

Outdoor Learning Gardens

Other Government Agency Resources


Appendix A: Special Considerations

This appendix provides information to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 at school for specific jobs and positions (e.g., bus drivers, nurses) as well as considerations for teachers, staff, and students with disabilities or special healthcare needs.

Jobs and positions covered in this Appendix:

  • Teachers, Substitutes, Paraprofessionals, and Specialists
  • Janitors and Maintenance Staff
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) Professionals and School Facilities Staff
  • Office and Administrative Staff
  • School Nutrition Staff
  • School Nurse or Designated Staff
  • School Bus Driver and Bus Aides
  • Coaching Staff and Athletic Trainers
  • Music, Choir, and Performing Arts Teachers
  • Teachers, Staff, and Students with Disabilities or Special Healthcare Needs

Printer friendly, fillable version of Appendix A: Special Considerations. pdf icon[659 KB, 11 Pages]

business man and woman

Appendix B: Staff Protections

Hierarchy of Controls chart

Controlling exposures to hazards in the workplace is key to help reduce risk and keep staff healthy on the job. To do this, a hierarchy of controls approach is used. The hierarchy of controls helps to determine:

  • How to implement feasible and effective control solutions
  • Which controls to prioritize when faced with limited resources

Controls in Schools During COVID-19

While these controls are intended to help reduce risk for staff, these controls can also help to reduce risk for students.

computer user

Elimination and Substitution involve removing or replacing a hazard with something that is not as hazardous. These controls are typically the most effective at managing hazards. However, elimination is difficult to do and substitution is not possible for an infectious disease, like COVID-19, that has spread in the community or in work settings.


  • The hazard of potential COVID-19 exposures is eliminated in the school setting by engaging in virtual-only instead of in-person traditional classes, activities, and events or elimination of assemblies and activities that promote mass gathering without social distancing measures

Engineering Controls involve changes to the physical environment to isolate or remove staff from the hazard.


  • Increasing ventilation (outdoor air) and filtration
  • Installing barriers
  • Rearranging or removing workstations and furniture to allow for social distancing
temperature check

Administrative Controls involve changes to work practices and behaviors of people to reduce or limit exposure to the hazard.


  • Policies that prevent the hazard from entering schools
    • Encouraging self-monitoring
    • Prohibiting individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 or who have been recently exposed to someone known or suspected to have COVID-19 from entering the school building or campus
  • Policies that encourage or enforce prevention methods
    • Cohorting (identifying small groups and keeping them together)
    • Wearing masks, physical distancing, using hand hygiene, and cough/sneeze etiquette
    • Cleaning and disinfection
  • Educating and training staff, students, parents, guardians, and caregivers on hazards and hazard prevention
  • Providing signs and visual reminders to encourage healthy behaviors
PPE mask

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is the last line of defense and is used after all engineering and administrative controls have been implemented where possible. The right PPE must be chosen for each hazard.


  • Gloves
  • Gown
  • Face shield or goggles
  • Respirator
  • Surgical mask