School Reopening: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

CA Safe Schools for All answers parents frequently asked questions about upcoming school openings. Info originally posted on the website CA Department of Public Health site on July 15, 2021. En Español

1. What is California doing so that schools can safely open and operate fully? 

California schools are getting a lot of state and federal money to support a safe return to schools. Over $25 billion is available to schools for social/emotional and mental health resources, additional teacher and counselor staffing, classroom ventilation upgrades, COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and extra programs to make up for learning loss. 

California is giving extra support to schools and communities in areas hardest hit by the pandemic that have been the slowest to reopen to full in-person instruction. We want to make sure they get all the support they need to be successful. You can see how much funding your child’s district or school received for the 2020-21 school year by looking at the interactive public school district and charter school maps.   

2. What can parents do to feel confident that their children won’t become infected?

Two things: 

  • Get vaccinated. All children 12 and older, along with adult family members, should get vaccinated. It’s the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones  from the virus.
  • Talk to your child’s school. There are many safety layers that help keep schools safe. Look on your child’s school’s website or reach out to your child’s school to find out details about its COVID-19 safety plan.  Every school is required to develop a COVID-19 safety plan and post it online. 

3. Is the spread of COVID-19 virus among students a problem? 

COVID-19 spreads far less among younger children than among adults. And, research shows that many schools in California, the U.S., and other parts of the world stayed open safely throughout the pandemic with safety measures in place. Even if children do get the virus, the illness symptoms are much less severe and often children do not have any symptoms at all. 

Children have mostly gotten COVID-19 from adults at home, even when they were going to school, so the best thing we can do for schools and students is for all adults and those 12 and older to get vaccinated. And the risk is even lower in schools when additional safety precautions are taken, like wearing masks, good airflow in classrooms, and washing hands.  

4. Will students and people who work at schools be tested every week?  

There is no “one size fits all” testing plan for schools.  Schools work with their local health department to decide when, how often, and how to test students and staff based on many considerations, including: 

  • Current community and school case rates
  • Ability to train staff to conduct testing 
  • Onsite testing availability  

For more information, visit the California Department of Public Health’s website on programs to support testing in schools

5. What are the ways to avoid transmission?

Ways to avoid COVID-19 transmission in schools include: 

  • Vaccines for children 12 and older, along with all adults in your family 
  • Masks worn by all students and school staff indoors
  • Good ventilation in classrooms
  • Keep your child home from school if they are sick
  • Regular COVID-19 testing in schools can detect the virus in students and staff even when they don’t feel sick
  • Contact tracing to alert parents if your child was in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Wash hands frequently

6. Will children be able to go outside to play? What will they do during recess?

Yes, students and school staff are allowed to go outside during recess. Students and staff do not need to wear masks outside. People are much less likely to get COVID-19 when outdoors compared to indoors. 

7. Where can parents find more information? 

Parents can find more information at the Safe Schools for All Parent Page. This page is updated on a continuous basis with the most current information for parents about COVID-19 and school safety.

8. What are my options if my child tests positive and I have to stay home from work with them? 

If your child has been exposed to COVID-19, or if you are exposed or test positive and cannot go to work, you may be eligible to receive certain benefits, including paid sick leave regardless of immigration status. To learn more, visit Work Leave and Pay Benefits Related to COVID-19.

​​​Originally published on July 15, 2021