School & District Management Infographic

A Visual Guide to COVID-Proofing Your School

By Education Week Staff — August 31, 2021 1 min read
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With the Delta variant spreading and with evolving guidance from public health officials, back-to-school 2021 is looking different than it did in 2020.
These updated graphics distill the most-recent guidance for schools on ways to curb the spread of COVID-19 through contact-tracing, better ventilation, widespread testing for the infection, and procedures for keeping students safely distanced from one another on school buses.


When is contact tracing necessary?

Diagram of when contact tracing is necessary for vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

Recommendations for screening by level of community transmission

Screening testing recommendations from CDC increase when subjects are not fully vaccinated or the transmission rate in their community is high. Weekly screening for students, teachers, and staff is recommended for those not fully vaccinated.

1 Levels of community transmission defined as total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past 7 days (low, 0-9; moderate 10-49; substantial, 50-99, high, ≥100) and percentage of positive tests in the past 7 days (low, <5%; moderate, 5-7.9%; substantial, 8-9.9%; high, ≥10%.)
2 Examples of low-risk sports are diving and golf; intermediate-risk sport examples are baseball and cross country; high-risk sport examples are football and wrestling.
3 High-risk extracurricular activities are those in which increased exhalation occurs, such as activities that involve singing, shouting, band, or exercise, especially when conducted indoors.
SOURCE: CDC


Is it safe to ride the bus?

The CDC calls for universal masking while boarding, riding, or disembarking any school transportation or while waiting at indoor “transportation hubs” like school bus stops, regardless of the vaccination status or mask policy for the campus. Physically distancing students can be a particular challenge on school buses and other vehicles that transport groups of students to school.

Diagram of bus guidance

Keep learning spaces well ventilated

Beyond maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems in schools, there are additional ways educators can localize options in classrooms or educational spaces.

Diagram of ventilation options and guidance for the classroom: open windows, fans, air cleaners.

Guidance for mask usage

If you are not fully vaccinated and ages 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places, and in outdoor settings where there are high numbers of COVID-19 cases in your area and you are unable to maintain distance.

Diagram: Masks need to completely cover your nose, mouth, and chin without gaps. Masks need to be two or more layers of washable, 
breathable fabric.

Young students may need help with proper ways to wear their masks as they transition from indoors, outdoors, and lunchrooms.

Diagram: Young students may need help with proper ways to wear their masks as they transition from indoors, outdoors, and lunchrooms. Do not wear masks under the nose, under the chin, on the forehead, or on the arm.

See Also

Image of a face mask on school notebook.
Steven White/iStock/Getty

When quarantining is recommended

Chart: CDC guidelines on quarantining


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