Insights Article

Understanding the CDC Guidelines for Returning to in-person Learning

4 min read
31 August 2021

The CDC has stated that it is critical for schools to open as safely and as quickly as possible for in-person learning. What options do schools and educational campuses have when it comes to following these guidelines while avoiding outbreaks and re-closures?

Parents: Should I Send My Child to School?

Schools play an important role in children’s educational achievement, health, and wellbeing. Parents and caregivers may be given the option to choose between in-person, virtual, or a hybrid model of learning for their children. The CDC advises that when weighing decisions about returning to school, it is important that parents consider their comfort level with the steps their school is taking to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


We can help

We work extensively in the US education sector, assisting schools in meeting ever-increasing security requirements. Our life-safety focused approach ensures no element of your security is left unchecked.

In-person Learning Checklist

The CDC advises that parents should be able to answer ‘yes’ to most of the following when considering returning their child to the classroom:


  • I am aware of my school’s plans for in-person learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • I feel comfortable with my school’s plans for reducing the spread of COVID-19.
  • I believe my school has the resources needed to effectively implement its plan (e.g., staffing, supplies, training).
  • I feel comfortable with my school’s plan if a student or staff member has symptoms or tests positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • I am satisfied with how my school communicates with families about changes to the school’s COVID-19 plan.
  • I am satisfied with how my school is addressing parents’ or caregivers’ concerns and questions. My child knows how to properly wear a mask and understands the importance of doing so.
  • My child can follow instructions and stay at least 6 feet away from other people in the classroom, while waiting for the school bus, and in other settings.
  • My child has a reliable mode of transportation to and from school (e.g., school bus, carpool, walk/bike, public transit).
  • I am comfortable with how my child’s mode of transportation to and from school is reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19 (e.g., decreased bus/transit capacity, wearing masks, increased cleaning and disinfecting practices).

Source CDC Decision Tool

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Educating the Educators

Taking charge of school security is a daunting task, and something every member of staff needs to be part of. Delivered by our in-house experts, we now offer Continuing Education courses to help support this effort in schools and campuses.

school staircase

Students: What to Expect

The CDC recommends consistent implementation of layered prevention strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This means how students and staff behave and move around school will be different to before. Every school will handle this in their own way, following the five key prevention strategies are essential to safe delivery of in-person instruction and help to prevent COVID-19 transmission in schools:


  1. Universal and correct use of masks, which should completely cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face without gaps.
  2. Physical distancing, by staying at least 3 feet (about an arms length) from other people who are not from your household in both indoor and outdoor spaces.
  3. Handwashing and respiratory etiquette, washing hands regularly for at least 20 seconds or using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  4. Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including a plan for what surfaces need to be cleaned, what methods are used and how often.
  5. Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine.

Source CDC Schools Operation Strategy

Schools play an important role in children’s educational achievement, health, and wellbeing.

CDC Guidelines

Decision Makers: Health and Wellbeing as Part of School Security

The reduction in social distancing from 3 to 6 feet has made reopening easier to manage in many schools where hallway space is at a premium. However, this puts even greater importance on symptom observation and contact tracing.

Considering the CDC guidelines in relation to existing school security can help to simplify some of these new strategies:

  • Thermal imaging and screening devices can be used to accurately take a pupil's temperature, without breaching physical distancing guidelines.
  • Devices with mask detection functionality reduce the burden on staff to identify when mask protocol is not being followed.
  • Well configured surveillance and access systems can assist in contact tracing efforts, by showing the movements of the infected person and those around them.


Get in touch

Our US-based team will be happy to answer any questions you may have.