COVID-19 School Health and Safety GuidanceGuidance for required school-based health assessments, comprehensive sexual health education, comprehensive school safety plans and mandated reporting training, for the 2020–21 school year.
The California Department of Education (CDE) continues to monitor the 2019 novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and is working closely with agency partners. Despite current school closures and the ongoing impact of COVID-19, school-based health assessments required for admission to school, and requirements related to comprehensive sexual health education, comprehensive school safety plans and mandated reporting training, continue to be in effect for the 2020–21 school year.
School Health Assessments
Especially in the era of COVID-19, school health assessments are more important than ever to help identify health issues earlier and to improve the health of all children in California's schools. Local educational agencies (LEAs) should identify plans for communicating required health assessments and enrollment requirements to families. LEAs are encouraged to follow California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations for protective strategies and social-distancing guidelines, should the LEA conduct any health-related examinations.
Oral Health Assessments
Information related to oral health assessments must be continued to be provided to parents and legal guardians as directed in California Education Code (EC) Section 49452.8. This section requires public school students enrolled in kindergarten (or first grade if not previously enrolled in kindergarten) to receive an oral health assessment no later than May 31, unless the parent/guardian indicates the reason such an assessment cannot be completed. LEAs shall continue to monitor and submit oral health reports to the county office of education of the county in which the school district is located. Should schools conduct on-site oral health assessments, CDPH’s COVID-19 Guidance for Dentistry should be followed by providers. Schools shall continue to collect records for students and should assist families with obtaining required oral health assessments from their primary dental care provider or offer local resources to obtain appropriate oral health screenings during the 2020–21 school year.
In accordance with EC sections 49452 and 49455, schools shall continue to provide vision testing and refer students, as needed, using protective strategies and appropriate social-distancing measures in light of COVID-19. The publication, A Guide for Vision Testing in California Public Schools (PDF) provides district and school health personnel with guidelines for a school vision testing program as related to EC Section 49455. The guidelines facilitate the planning and implementation of vision assessment programs so that all students in California public schools may benefit from optimal use of their sense of sight throughout their school years.
Schools shall continue to provide hearing testing and refer students as needed as required by EC Section 49452, using protective strategies and appropriate social-distancing measures in light of COVID-19. The School Audiometrist Manual (PDF) from the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) provides information concerning the school hearing conservation program as related to EC Section 49452. The manual is intended for persons who have had formal training in audiometry and is not intended as a substitute for such training.
Schools shall continue to collect immunization records for incoming students and shall assist families with obtaining required immunizations from their primary care provider or offer local resources to obtain appropriate immunizations before the start of the 2020–21 school year. The CDPH Immunizations website contains information for families and school administrators regarding current laws and regulations governing immunizations for school entry in California. Reporting requirements, as well as materials to promote immunizations to keep student populations healthy and safe, are also detailed and available.
Physical Health Assessments
California law requires a health examination to be completed 18 months before, or up to 90 days after, a child’s enrollment in first grade. The health examination requires an examiner to complete a Report of Health Examination for School Entry form as part of the school enrollment process. Schools shall continue to require examinations prior to enrollment and shall collect health examination records, along with required vaccination records, pursuant to California Code of Regulations Title 5 (5 CCR) Section 432(b)(2)(B) for all incoming students. Schools shall assist families with obtaining required health examinations from their primary care provider or offer local resources to obtain appropriate health screenings before the start of the 2020–21 school year. For information on the School Entry Health Exam Requirement visit CDPH’s website.
Comprehensive Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS Instruction
California Healthy Youth Act
The California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA), EC sections 51930–51939 remains in effect. Comprehensive Sexual Health Education must be a part of distance learning. Instruction shall occur once in middle school and once in high school and all tenets of the law still apply. For general guidance on the CHYA, please visit the Comprehensive Sexual Health & HIV/AIDS Instruction web page.
If an LEA makes the decision to delay instruction, for example, from seventh grade to eighth grade, this is permissible as long as a plan is in place to deliver CHYA to both grades of students in the next school year to still meet the mandate that instruction must occur once in middle school and once in high school.
Per EC Section 51938, parent/guardian notification (passive consent or opt-out) of instruction must still happen at the beginning of the school year or no fewer than 14 days before the instruction is delivered. Parents/guardians have a right to view instructional materials. CHYA curriculum publishers have made viewing instructional materials available through virtual portals. Please contact your LEA’s curriculum publisher. Also, please contact your LEA’s curriculum publisher for new distance learning modules. There may be a fee associated with accessing these new digital learning modules.
Free CHYA-compliant curricula distance learning modules are available, as well as other relevant resources on CDE’s Distance Learning Considerations web page.
Free teacher training, in partnership with the CDPH, Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Control Branch, and the California Prevention Training Center, is available to build knowledge and capacity in sexual health and sexuality education. The CHYA is covered in this training. Upon the successful completion of required and elective modules, participants will receive a Sexual Health Educator (SHE) Training Program Certificate of Completion.
Comprehensive School Safety Plan Requirements
Annual Comprehensive School Safety Plans requirements and timelines remain in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. LEAs must continue to follow existing requirements for the 2020–21 school year.
Comprehensive School Safety Plans
Comprehensive School Safety Planning (CSSP) requirements and timelines remain in effect EC sections 32280–32289.5
EC Section 32286(a): Each school shall review, update, and adopt its CSSP by March 1 of each year.
EC Section 32286(b): Every July, each school shall report on the status of its school safety plan, including a description of its key elements in the annual School Accountability Report Card.
EC Section 32288(a)(1): Each school shall forward its CSSP to the school district or county office of education for approval.
EC Section 32288(c): Each school, district, or county office of education shall annually notify the CDE by October 15 of any schools that have not complied with EC Section 32281.
School Safety Planning Resources
All California public schools kindergarten and grades one through twelve must develop a CSSP. This tool provides a list of required and recommended content to assist schools in creating a compliant plan.
Reminder to update and adopt CSSPs, legislative updates, and resources.
Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools Technical Assistance Center provides guidance, tools, training, and resources for kindergarten through grade twelve (K–12) and post-secondary education institutions to assist in providing a safe and healthy learning environment for students, faculty, and staff members.
Mandated Reporter Training Requirements
Annual Mandated Reporter Training requirements and timelines remain in effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. LEAs must continue to follow existing requirements for the 2020–21 school year.
Mandated Reporter Training
Staff Development in the Detection of Child Abuse and Neglect; During this time of the pandemic and distance learning, it remains the responsibility of school personnel and educators who are engaged with students to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect. Mandated Reporter Training annual requirements and timelines remain in effect.
EC Section 44691(b)(2) ; School districts, county offices of education, state special schools and diagnostic centers operated by the State Department of Education shall do the following: Develop a process for all persons required to receive training pursuant to this section to provide proof of completing the training within the first six weeks of each school year or within the first six weeks of that person’s employment.
Child Abuse Prevention and Training Resources including free training and certification through the California Department of Social Services can be accessed at Child Abuse Prevention & Training Resources.