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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 toolkit serves as a resource to prepare for, prevent, and respond to respiratory illness 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 toolkit provides an overview of important requirements and recommendations, tools, and reporting information. For more details about the recommendations please visit LAC DPH COVID-19 and Acute Respiratory Illness Guidelines for Education Settings.

Responding to COVID-19 in Education Settings

Education settings must investigate and manage any COVID-19 cases identified at the site. Current State laws mandate the exclusion of anyone with a communicable disease that poses a risk to others. Individuals are responsible for adhering to LACDPH Instructions for COVID-19 Cases and Close Contacts, and education settings are responsible for developing policies that adhere to these guidelines. 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 and Acute Respiratory Illness Guidelines for Education Settings.

Staff and Students with Symptoms of a Possible Acute Respiratory Infection

People with symptoms of possible acute respiratory 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 or Exposed to COVID-19 (Cases & Close Contacts)

Staff and students with a COVID-19 infection or a known exposure need to adhere to LAC DPH Instructions for COVID-19 Cases and Close Contacts.

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.

LAC DPH Respiratory Virus Reporting Requirements

Per the LA County Health Officer Order, Education Settings are required to notify DPH within 24 hours when either of the following criteria are met:

  1. In an epidemiologically linked group (e.g., classroom, sports team, after-school group):
    • A minimum of 5* cases (at least 20% of the group) meet case definition for acute respiratory illness within a 7-day period, OR
  2. Facility-wide (e.g., entire school or center):
    • At least 10% of the average daily attendance of students are absent and/or reporting symptoms of acute respiratory illness, with a minimum of 5* ill, within a 3-day period.
    *In settings with groups smaller than 15 people, the minimum is reduced to 3 cases.
How to Report:

For additional information about ARI and COVID-19 reporting, visit publichealth.lacounty.gov/covidreporting or contact communityoutbreak@ph.lacounty.gov. Information about reporting clusters of other communicable diseases can be found at publichealth.lacounty.gov/acd/schools.

Best Practices to Prevent Respiratory Illness in Education Settings

Education settings should implement multiple layers of disease prevention strategies to reduce risk and limit 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.


Vaccines protect us from getting seriously ill, being hospitalized, and dying from COVID-19, flu, and other serious diseases.

  • CDPH Shots for Schools
    • Information about required and recommended immunizations for children, students, and staff.
  • LAC DPH Vaccine Home Page
    • Information on COVID-19, flu and RSV vaccines, including how to get them in Los Angeles County, vaccine safety, authorized vaccines, data, and information for providers.
  • CDC's Stay Up to Date with COVID-19 Vaccines
    • Information about what it means to be up to date with COVID-19 vaccines.
  • 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.

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. A healthcare provider can also test for influenza or RSV. Testing is critical to ensure that sick individuals receive the correct treatment.


Wearing a mask can help reduce the spread of respiratory infections and are a critical tool for disease prevention in Education Settings. Children under 2 should not wear a mask.

  • LAC DPH 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, desks, and shared classroom toys.

Additional COVID-19 Resources
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.
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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