COVID-19: Child Care, Schools, and Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs)

For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Georgia, please visit https://dph.georgia.gov/covid-vaccine

It is important that everyone in the child care and school community take steps to reduce COVID-19 transmission, particularly to those at high risk, while balancing the need to maintain a strong system that effectively supports children, students, staff and communities.

Child care facilities, schools and institutions of higher education should continue to work with local health officials and follow the best practices provided by the Georgia Department of Public Health and CDC to ensure children, students, and staff have a safe and healthy learning environment.

Public Health Guidance for Child Care

Public Health Guidance for K-12 Schools

Public Health Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education

Tips to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Schools and Child Care Programs

The below tips will help child care facilities, schools, and IHEs prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

  • Layer mitigation strategies.

    Evidence suggests that many K-12 schools that have strictly implemented mitigation strategies have been able to safely open and remain open. Both the Georgia Department of Public Health and CDC encourages consistent implementation of layered mitigation strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in schools. Mitigation strategies include, but are not limited to, physical distancing, mask usage, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and disinfecting, contact tracing with isolation and quarantine.

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  • Implement procedures that promote physical distancing.

    Physical distancing (at least 3 feet) should be maximized to the greatest extent possible. To ensure physical distancing, schools should establish procedures and implement structural interventions to promote physical distance of at least 3 feet between people, when possible. Cohorting or podding is recommended to minimize exposure across the child care and school environment.

    Steps to encourage physical distancing during in-person schooling may include:

    • Divide children or students up into distinct groups or cohorts that stay together during the school day and reducing interaction between different groups
    • Stagger student arrival, drop-off, and pick-up time or locations by cohort
    • Eliminate lockers or grouping them by student groups, or cohorts
    • Create one-way traffic in school hallways
    • Use outdoor spaces when possible for instruction, meals, and recess
    • Space desks at least 3 ft. apart and having them all face in the same direction
    • Place signage and floor markers to encourage physical distancing
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  • Encourage mask usage.

    Universal and correct mask usage is recommended. Consistent and correct use of face masks by students, teachers and staff is an important mitigation strategy for preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the child care, school, and IHE setting.

    Additional CDC guidance on wearing a mask can be found here.

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  • Promote proper hand hygiene.

    Children, students, teachers, and staff should be reminded to wash their hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol should be used.

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  • Clean and disinfect.

    Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., playground equipment, door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains) within the child care facility, school and on school buses regularly. Use of shared objects (e.g., gym or physical education equipment, art supplies, toys, games) should be limited when possible. If shared objects are used, students should wash hands or use hand sanitizer before and after use.

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  • Advise individuals to stay home if they do not feel well.

    Encourage parents/guardians to monitor their student’s health on a daily basis. Advise parents to keep their student at home if they are not feeling well. Additionally, advise teachers and staff to remain at home if they are not feeling well.

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  • Quarantine and isolate individuals.

    Advise students, teachers, staff, and families of DPH’s home isolation and quarantine criteria.

    • Isolation: Students, teachers, and staff with COVID-19 should not return to in-person child care or school until they have met all DPH’s criteria to discontinue home isolation. DPH’s isolation requirements can be found here.
    • Quarantine: Students, teachers, and staff who have been identified as close contacts (within 6 feet for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more) of someone with COVID-19 should not return to in-person child care or school until they have met all of DPH’s criteria to discontinue quarantine. DPH’s quarantine requirements can be found here.
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  • Conduct Contact tracing

    It is important for child care facilities, schools, and IHEs to work with local public health to conduct contact tracing when a COVID-19 case is identified. Designate a staff person, such as the school nurse, to be responsible for communicating with public health on a regular basis. Ensure close contacts are aware of DPH’s quarantine criteria and do not return to in-person child care or school until they have met all DPH’s criteria to discontinue quarantine. DPH’s quarantine requirements can be found here.

    Additional information on contact tracing can be found here.

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Additional Resources

Ventilation in schools and child care programs

Georgia High School Association (GHSA) COVID-19 Updates

Back to School Planning: Checklists to Guide Parents, Guardians, and Caregivers