School Reopening Readiness Guide

(Version 1.4 Updated on March 8, 2021)

The School Reopening Readiness Guide (v 1.3) is designed to assist district and school leaders in developing, evaluating, revising, and executing your operational plans to reopen schools for in-person learning, as well as in assessing your readiness to implement them. The timing of and steps toward reopening will differ depending on state guidance, resources, logistics, COVID-19 infection rates, and risk factors that vary with local contexts (see section below on comprehensive view of risk).

Decisions about when and how to reopen may change rapidly in response to new information. Just as district and school leaders monitor forecasts to decide on snow day closures, it will be critical to monitor local COVID-19 infection rates, as well as community adherence to mask wearing and physical distancing, to inform in-person learning plans.

This guide is intended to help you identify effective health and safety measures that are feasible for and acceptable to students, teachers, other school personnel, and the families and communities you serve. Given the constraints of resources and local contexts, it is unlikely that schools will be able to implement all the ideas included in this guide, nor will that be necessary to create an effective reopening plan. Yet there are several important steps that every school should take to reduce the risk of infection transmission. Some of these can be accomplished with a range of different implementation options and best practices offered in this guide. This guide can also help you build a shared understanding in your school communities of reopening challenges and strategies, as well as a balanced view of the health and education risks of school closings and reopenings. It is based upon the following tenets.

Using This Guide

This guide is intended to provide information to support your operational planning. It can be used by the reopening committee/task force to develop a comprehensive plan and identify action steps under each principle and corresponding objective.

This guide is organized by health principles and corresponding objectives. With each objective, you will find concrete recommendations aligned to existing guidance and based on existing research and the emerging evidence base. Starting point tools and management-level planning questions, examples, suggestions, and references are also provided to help achieve the goals.

Note: If you prefer to view this guide as a document, please click here.

The progress tracker below will help you keep track as you prioritize each objective, identify the level of implementation, and track real-time progress. The color-coded status can be used to quickly assess school readiness and correspond to the status column on the spreadsheet. You can continually reassess and update your status and priorities on the spreadsheet as you move through your reopening process.

Note: The link below will create a copy of the tracker in Google Sheets, which you can then edit and save in your Google Drive and share with colleagues.

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