Please note that this advisory only summarizes some key points of CDC guidance as of August 12, 2020. State and local law, requirements, or guidance can and may differ. Additionally, CDC guidance is being updated on an ongoing basis; always check the CDC’s website for the most up to date information.



Testing and screening in K-12 settings

The CDC states that staff are not expected to administer Covid-19 tests, but opines that school-based health care providers may conduct testing if they have the resources and training to do so and “should not feel compelled to do so.” The CDC does not recommend universal testing of students and staff at this time, because of concerns that testing only prevents infection status at the time of testing.

The CDC does not currently recommend conducting universal symptom screening of students at school, but does recommend that parents and caregivers continually monitor their children for symptoms and not send them to school when they are sick. The CDC recognizes the limitations in symptom screenings in reducing spread of the virus, as individuals may be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic.


Isolation of symptomatic individuals

The CDC states that symptomatic individuals (students or staff) should be sent to an isolation area immediately. The school should be prepared to refer symptomatic individuals to an appropriate health care provider or testing site, or send the student home depending on the severity of symptoms. Schools should cooperate with local health officials in informing those individuals who have been exposed through close contact.

Face coverings

The CDC strongly encourages face coverings for both students and staff, especially when social distancing cannot be maintained. It recognizes certain medical exceptions that should be made to wearing face coverings, and recognizes that wearing face coverings will be challenging for younger students and students and staff with special educational or healthcare needs. It also suggests the use of plastic face coverings (not shields) when working with students whose needs require it (for example, deaf students who need to read lips). The CDC recommends school districts provide face coverings to students, staff, and visitors who do not have them available.

*Please see the advisory on NJ DOE’s requirements on face coverings for students for New Jersey specific requirements.

School-provided transportation

The CDC recommends that buses be cleaned and disinfected at least daily using EPA approved disinfectants, and that physical guides be provided (signs, tape) regarding remaining 6 feet apart while waiting for the bus. The CDC also recommends school districts consider the following: creating distance on buses by reducing the number of passengers, having spare face coverings available for students, and opening the windows on the school bus.

Positive tests in schools

The CDC recommends the following when it comes to the possibility of closing schools when students or staff test positive:

  • A single positive test in school ≠ automatic school closure
  • When spread in school > spread in community = the district should consult with local health officials to determine if school closure is warrante
  • If school is the source of an outbreak = district should consult with local health officials to determine if temporary school closure is warranted
  • If exposure if limited to one particular cohort of students, consider switching that cohort to virtual learning


* Please see the NJ DOH’s guidance for New Jersey specific information, located here:
CDC’s Decision-making tool for families deciding how to go back to school:

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