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Community Guidelines

Our schools, youth programs and education sites are critical components of our communities and have tremendous impact on the health, well-being, growth, and development of students and families in Los Angeles County. This COVID-19 Toolkit serves as a resource to prepare for, prevent, and respond to COVID-19 in education settings including:

  • Early Care and Education (ECE) sites
  • TK-12 schools
  • Programs serving school-aged children, including day care, camps, and youth sports programs
  • Institutes of Higher Education (IHE).

This COVID-19 Toolkit provides an overview of important requirements and recommendations, tools, and reporting information. For more details about the recommendations please visit LACDPH COVID-19 Prevention and Response Guidelines for Education Settings.

Responding to COVID-19 in Education Settings

Education settings should continue to investigate and respond to any COVID-19 cases identified at the site. Current State laws and regulations require schools to exclude staff and students who have a communicable disease while contagious. Individuals are responsible for adhering to LACDPH Instructions for COVID-19 Cases and Close Contacts. These instructions are outlined below and are intended to support education settings in developing and implementing exclusion and return to school criteria related to COVID-19. As employers, education settings should also refer to the Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations for workplace requirements. For the complete education guidance, please see LACDPH COVID-19 Prevention and Response Guidelines for Education Settings.

Staff and Students with Symptoms of a Possible Respiratory Infection

People with symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection should wear a mask, stay home and away from others, and test for COVID-19. Those who test negative using an antigen test but continue having COVID-19 symptoms should continue to isolate and test again 48 hours later. Consult LACDPH Symptom Guidance for Schools for additional recommendations.

Staff and Students with COVID-19 (Cases)

Staff and students with a COVID-19 infection need to adhere to these instructions regardless of their vaccination status, history of previous infection, or lack of symptoms. For the full guidance, refer to LAC DPH Instructions for COVID-19 Cases and Close Contacts.

  1. Isolate (Stay Home)
  2. Staff and students with COVID-19 must stay home and away from others if symptomatic and/or with fever. Isolation can end when both of the following criteria are met:

    • Have not had a fever for 24 hours without taking medication that reduces fevers AND
    • Other symptoms are not present or are mild and improving.


    • A person leaving isolation prior to 10 days from the date of a positive test and/or onset of symptoms is required to wear a mask when around others for the 10 days.
    • It is strongly recommended that an individual test for COVID-19 prior to ending isolation and extend isolation until day 10 if they continue to test positive.

    Staff and students with COVID-19 who do not have symptoms are not required to isolate only if wearing a well-fitting, high-quality mask in all settings when around others, for 10 days after first testing positive.

  3. Wear a mask
  4. All people with a COVID-19 infection must wear a mask for 10 days from symptom onset or positive test date, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

    • While in isolation, wear a well-fitting, high-quality mask when in the same room as others.
    • People who meet criteria to end isolation shall wear a mask around others for 10 days from symptom onset.
    • Those with COVID-19 and no symptoms shall wear a mask around others for 10 days from the day they first tested positive.
    • Masks can be removed sooner if the individual obtains two sequential negative tests taken at least one day apart.

  5. Tell close contacts
  6. Close contacts should be informed that they may be infected, so that they are aware and can take appropriate next steps to protect themselves and others within their community. For more information, see Communication and Notifications About Exposures section below.

Additional Considerations

  • Individuals whose symptoms return or worsen after initially improving may have COVID-19 rebound and should stay home and retest with an antigen test.
  • Support students who are learning at home if they are sick. Ensure that employees are not penalized when they stay home due to illness.
Staff and Students Exposed to COVID-19 (Close Contacts)

The term Close Contact refers to the following:

  • In indoor spaces of 400,000 or fewer cubic feet per floor (such as classrooms and offices): A close contact is defined as sharing the same indoor airspace for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (for example, three individual 5-minute exposures for a total of 15 minutes) during a confirmed case's infectious period.
  • In large indoor spaces greater than 400,000 cubic feet per floor (such as open-floor-plan offices, warehouses, and some gymnasiums): A close contact is defined as being within 6 feet of the infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period during the confirmed case's infectious period.

Exposed staff and students should:

  1. Wear a well-fitting mask around others indoors for 10 days after last exposure.
    • Children under 2 years should not wear a mask but may remain at the facility if they are monitored for symptoms.
  2. Monitor for symptoms for 10 days after last exposure. If symptoms develop, stay home away from others and test immediately.
  3. Get tested within 3-5 days after last exposure. If recently recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days, review testing recommendations. Staff who are exposed at work must have access to COVID-19 testing available at no cost during paid time in a manner that ensures confidentiality. See Cal/OSHA FAQ - Testing. Employers are also required to follow guidance in Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations. See also LACDPH's Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace.
Communication and Notifications About Exposures

Parents should immediately inform the site when a student tests positive for COVID-19 and was on site while infectious. When sites are notified of a COVID-19 exposure on site, it is strongly recommended that they notify students who were exposed and provide them with instruction for close contacts (above). If an individual with COVID-19 participated in any games, performances, tournaments, competitions, or other site-related activities involving other sites while symptomatic, it is strongly recommended that the CD liaison notify the impacted site(s). Sites are required to notify employees if they have been exposed to a known COVID-19 case in the workplace during the case’s infectious period per Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations.


If LACDPH determines that outbreak criteria have been met, a Public Health Outbreak Investigator will contact the site to coordinate an Outbreak Investigation. During the Outbreak, the site must comply with additional requirements issued by LACDPH. The site is also responsible for complying with regulations outlined per Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations.

Reporting Clusters of COVID-19 Cases to LACDPH

Per the LA County Health Officer Order, Education Settings are required to notify DPH within 1 business day of all clusters of at least 3 linked COVID-19 cases within 7 days of each other.

Best Practices to Prevent COVID-19 in Education Settings

Education settings should implement multiple layers of COVID-19 mitigation strategies to reduce risk and limit cases and transmission at the site. Please see the information below for a variety of resources and tools that schools can use to assist in developing layered strategies.


Everyone 6 months and older should get the updated fall 2023 COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and reduce the spread of the virus. Vaccination is the best way to protect against getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying from COVID-19 and helps to reduce COVID-19 outbreaks in schools and in the community. The updated vaccine can increase prior protection (from previous vaccination or infection) that may have decreased over time.

  • Where to Get Vaccinated
    • Families can contact their healthcare providers or visit ph.lacounty.gov/vaccines to schedule vaccination appointments nearby. They can also call 1-833-540-0473 or 2-1-1 if they need help making an appointment or are homebound. (Note: Minors need consent from their parent or legal guardian to get vaccinated).
  • VaccinateLAcounty.com
    • Information on COVID-19 vaccines, including how to get the vaccine in Los Angeles County, vaccine safety, authorized vaccines, data, and information for providers.
  • Host a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic
    • A guide for coordinating school-located vaccine clinics, including best practices and resources. While it includes information and resources for TK-12 schools, the overall content is helpful for childcare facilities, preschools, and institutes of higher education.
  • Shots for Schools
    • Information about required and recommended immunizations for children, students, and staff.
  • CDC's Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines
    • Information about what it means to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
  • CDC Recommendations for Students Vaccinated Outside the US
    • Guidelines for vaccinations schedules and boosters for those vaccinated outside the US.

Increasing ventilation and improving air quality and filtration are highly effective ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses through the air. Make sure your site's HVAC system is in good working order and frequently inspected. Consider other ways to improve ventilation including adding portable high-efficiency air filters, opening windows and doors to increase fresh outdoor air, and moving activities outdoors as weather and air quality allow.


Ensuring students and employees have access to testing when symptomatic or exposed is important to prevent spread of COVID-19. Testing recommendations for the general public change based on local metrics, which are updated regularly on the LA County COVID-19 Response Plan website.


Wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19. County indoor mask wearing rules and recommendations for the general public change based on local metrics, which are updated regularly on the LA County COVID-19 Response Plan website. Children under 2 should not wear a mask.

  • LACDPH COVID-19 Mask Wearing Rules and Recommendations
    • Provides up to date masking requirements and recommendations as well as information on types of masks and mask exemptions.
  • Wear a Mask and Know your Rights
    • Employers are required to offer well-fitting medical masks and respirators (with instructions on proper fit) at no cost to employees who work indoors and have contact with others or who are in vehicles with others. Staff may also request masks and respirators at no cost.
Cleaning and disinfecting

Regularly cleaning surfaces helps prevent the spread of germs that make people sick. Facilities should regularly clean frequently touched surfaces and objects such as door handles, stair rails, and elevator buttons.

Additional COVID-19 Resources
Workplace Guidance
LACDPH Best Practices to Prevent COVID-19 for Businesses and Employers
  • Best practices for COVID-19 prevention in the workplace.
LAC DPH Responding to COVID-19 in the Workplace
  • Guide for recommended and required actions related to COVID-19 cases in the workplace.
CAL/OSHA COVID-19 Non-Emergency Regulations
  • Regulations related to COVID-19 from The Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), better known as Cal/OSHA.
CAL/OSHA COVID-19 Prevention Non-Emergency Regulations FAQs
  • Frequently asked questions to Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Non-Emergency Regulations
COVID-19 Safety: Workers' Rights in California
  • This document has important information for employees about workplace rights and government benefits for those affected by the pandemic.
Information for Immigrants
The Los Angeles County Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • provides answers to common questions about COVID-19 and guidance on testing and treatment services, available to all regardless of immigration status
Free and low-cost Health Coverage
  • Families who need health benefits can learn about comprehensive free and low-cost health coverage on this DPSS website.
LA County COVID-19 Data
LA County Data Homepage
  • Explore LA County's COVID-19 data.
LA County Vaccination Data
  • Interactive tool to explore vaccination data in LA County, including by School District.
Mental Health Resources and Support Services
Mental Health Toolkit for Parents and Guardians of Teens
  • This website was developed by the Department of Public Health and provides information, links and activities for parents/guardians of teens.
  • LA County residents get free access to online mental health tools, including on-demand chat with trained peer coaches, self-paced lessons on a variety of topics to improve wellbeing, and community support groups.
DPSS Access to Healthcare Services
  • Families who need health insurance can learn about comprehensive free and low-cost health coverage on this DPSS website. Families who need help finding a doctor can call the 24/7 helpline at 2-1-1 or visit 211LA.org.
Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH)
  • Resources to support the wellbeing of our communities. LACDMH's 24/7 Help Line at (800) 854-7771 is available to provide mental health support, resources, and referrals.
CDC's Coping with Stress
  • Information on healthy ways to cope with stress, resources, and crisis hotline numbers.
Traveling Recommendations

LACDPH Travel Guidance provides up to date travel information during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Signage and Communication Tools
Symptom Guidance Chart for Children
Symptom Guidance Cover Letter
Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

CDC Frequently Asked Questions: English | Español
CDPH Questions and answers: English | Español

Why Routine Childhood Vaccinations Matter
Vaccines for School-aged Children
Vaccines for Infants and Toddlers
COVID-19 Vaccines and Vaccine Schedules
COVID-19 Vaccine Myths and Facts

CDC webpage: English | Español

COVID-19 Guidance for Parents
COVID-19 entry sign - Masks Required in this area
Entry Sign: Masks Required by Management
English PDF | Word Doc
COVID-19 entry sign - Masks Strongly Recommended
Entry Sign: Masks Strongly Recommended
English PDF | Word Doc
Masking Tips for Children
CDC Resources
CDC Handwashing/Health Promotion Fact Sheets/Posters
Classroom Ventilation
LACDPH Classroom Ventilation Recommendations

Public Health has made reasonable efforts to provide accurate translation. However, no computerized translation is perfect and is not intended to replace traditional translation methods. If questions arise concerning the accuracy of the information, please refer to the English edition of the website, which is the official version.

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