Design Considerations

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The more interaction students and staff have with people, the higher the risk of spreading COVID-19. Each district will need to collaborate with local and state health officials to determine an acceptable, feasible, and practical approach to returning to school that satisfies community needs.

  • Online learning
  • Student half-day attendance
  • Student full day alternate attendance
  • Increase student attendance gradually by need

Best Practices

  • Prepare for emergency shutdowns and future closures
  • Implement a communication plan
  • Provide remote learning alternatives

Redesigning the ClassroomClassroom-Layout-Before-and-After-Covid_500x900.jpg

Bringing students back into the classroom will increase the risk of spreading COVID-19. Integrating adjustments and creating a new classroom experience can help.

Cohort small groups for students are groups studying the same curriculum or at the same academic level. Utilizing these groups post-COVID-19 will allow teachers and staff to more easily maintain social distancing in the academic environment.

  • Develop cohort small groups by grade or floor
  • Minimize contact between students
  • Restrict class-to-class movement
  • Use technology and online learning
  • Schedule varied, small cohort group break times
  • Utilize the outdoors when possible
  • Incorporate time for regular surface cleaning
  • Require handwashing in class when possible
Photo by MiEN. Click for full view.


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School areas where students and staff typically gather or are in close contact pose particularly difficult challenges in maintaining CDC guidelines for social distancing and cleaning. 

Each area should incorporate regular cleaning, sanitation, hand washing or sanitizing and social distancing floor markers where students line up.

Restroom use

  • Schedule regular restroom breaks
  • Incorporate touch less features and automatic lights
  • Apply social distancing practices
  • Plan for regular cleanings around class times
  • Adjust door swing and/or hardware to eliminate use of door knob

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Entrances and exists commonly host a large crowd of students, staff and parents. While school districts may consider various strategies or schedules  to reduce congestion, some additional considerations are:

  • Establish check-in stations to screen for illness
  • Require hand washing or sanitizing upon entering the building
  • Assign students and staff to specific entrances and exits
  • Place plastic dividers at main offices to separate staff from incoming students, parents, and visitors
  • Establish a safe room for those showing symptoms


Corridor use varies greatly from elementary to high school. All levels can implement floor and wall graphics to create directional aisles.

  • K-12 can consider staggering class times to minimize interaction between class groups
  • Secondary schools can limit in-between class time and travel by rearranging corridors so students on a similar course track are together
  • Schedule all restroom breaks  by class and teachers can monitor restroom hygiene


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  • Serve and eat lunch within the classroom
  • Provide grab and go box lunches
  • Remove self-service items
  • Add plastic dividers on tables to distance students
  • Provide outdoor dining
  • Assign areas of the building for dining by group
  • Package condiments,utensils, and napkins individually and distribute as needed

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  • Require hand sanitizer application upon entering
  • Stagger visiting times to limit number of students
  • Re-arrange or remove furniture to maintain social distance standards
  • Remove items that cannot be sanitized
  • Sanitize common surface areas between classes as recommended by CDC
  • Hold returned books for 72 hours and sanitize before putting into circulation


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  • Plan activities that maintain social distancing
  • Schedule outdoor activities when possible
  • Disinfect equipment between classes
  • Alternate recess times to minimize number of students
  • Use separate partitions or floor markings in open spaces
  • Provide teachers with ability to broadcast instruction due to increased social distancing