Resources for School Leaders

Guidance for School Operations

Recommendations for the 2021–22 School Year

**Austin Public Health Recommendations for the 2021–22 School Year on COVID-19 Operations for Pre-K to 12th Grade Schools** Updated August 20, 2021

This document provides school boards, superintendents, and administrators with recommended measures they can take to keep students and staff safe this school year. Not all recommended practices will be possible in every setting and may be tailored to each school or district as appropriate. The guidance in the document is based on the best available evidence at this time. APH guidance for schools may be updated throughout the school year as the pandemic evolves and new information becomes available.

Frequently Asked Questions from Schools

This FAQs document includes answers to questions about COVID-19 asked by school leaders during meetings and by email. Austin Public Health is updating this document on a regular basis.

Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 Operations for Austin-Travis County Schools (PDF)

Close Contacts & Instructions for Quarantine

When schools learn that someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 was on campus, schools should identify that person’s close contacts at the school based on the CDC definition of close contacts. Schools should then notify those close contacts of the exposure and advise them to quarantine to prevent spread in the school and community. Schools can use this "Who is a COVID-19 Close Contact in a School" flier to understand the CDC guidance about identifying close contacts.

Close contacts should be advised not to return to school or campus activities until the recommended quarantine period has ended. The CDC notes that a 14-day quarantine is most protective. However, the CDC allows for shorter quarantine options. The Austin Public Health “How Long to Quarantine -- Information for Child Care and Pre-K –12 Schools” flowchart outlines in what circumstances a person should quarantine for 14 days and in what situations they could consider a shorter quarantine period. School districts/schools may continue advising a 14-day quarantine for students and staff if they so choose.

Identifying Close Contacts in Schools

This flyer provides guidance for identifying what constitutes a close contact, to help avoid the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

View the Identifying Close Contacts in Schools flyer in English (.pdf)

Quarantine Documents

How to Quarantine Document

This document explains quarantining to families of children who have been identified as close contacts of someone with COVID-19. Note, this document focuses on 14-day quarantine and does not reference shorter quarantine options.

View the How to Quarantine Document in English (.pdf)

When and How Long to Quarantine Document

This document can be used to help school staff and students’ families understand how long a person in different scenarios must quarantine. It also explains when a person can be around others after they had or likely had COVID-19. 

This version can be used by schools advising a 14-day quarantine for all close contacts:

View the When and How Long to Quarantine Document in English (.pdf)

This version can be used by schools allowing for 14, 10, and 7-day quarantine options:

When and How Long to Quarantine - 14, 10, & 7-day Options in English (.pdf)

Return to School Letter

Texas Medical Association Physician Return to School Letter

Austin Public Health shared this TMA resource with physicians and encouraged physicians to provide detailed return to school documentation to facilitate communication between healthcare providers and schools. Schools could also consider sharing this document with families and encouraging them to take it with them to COVID-19-related medical appointments and ask the healthcare provider to fill it out.

COVID-19 Testing Recommendations for Schools

The interim guidance documents below include recommended approaches for public and private schools choosing to participate in the state’s K-12 COVID-19 Testing Project through the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). The "APH Recommendations for COVID-19 Screening Testing in Pre-K – 12 Schools" document includes screening testing strategies such as who schools should test and how frequently; pooled testing; and steps to take when positive COVID-19 cases are discovered. The flow charts provide recommendations on next steps based on results of the rapid antigen tests that schools administer for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. More information about the K-12 COVID-19 Testing Project is available here.

Flow Charts with COVID-19 Testing Guidance for Schools (.pdf)


School District Dashboard Data

COVID-19 Data Dashboards for School Districts


APH Graduation/Ceremony Recommendations

These are Austin Public Health COVID-19 Safety Recommendations for K-12 graduation ceremonies. These safety standards are minimum recommendations only and are not exclusive or exhaustive. View or download the PDF graduation recommendations here

School Resources for Families

Many of the determinations related to school openings lie with school boards and school systems. Please contact your school administration for specific information about your school’s back-to-school plan. 

Physical Distancing Tips

View PDF documents for physical distancing tips to help keep your family safe this school year: ArabicBurmeseSimplified ChineseTraditional ChineseEnglishKoreanSpanishUrduVietnamese.

Back to School Tips

As children return to in-person instruction, many may be feeling anxious after such a long time away from their teachers and peers. Please view this PDF for 10 easy tips for parents to help support a child’s mental health this back to school season: English, Spanish

Learning Pods

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, some parents are having their children join learning “pods.” These pods may take a variety of forms, including but not limited to:

  • Facilitated Pods- A facilitator, who may or may not be a certified teacher, supervises and assists children while they engage in their school’s remote learning activities.
  • Co-Ops- Parents from two or more families take turns hosting all the children in their homes for remote learning.
  • Micro-schools- A certified teacher teaches the children who may not be enrolled in a formal school or using a school’s remote curriculum.
  • Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care- An informal care arrangement with a family member, friend, or neighbor to care for school-age children from one or more families during the day.
  • Community Learning Spaces- Facilitated by community organizations, groups of parents, faith-based organizations, or public entities that provide in-person support to students during times of remote instruction.

Similar to COVID-19 health concerns with children going back to school, there are health and safety considerations for learning pods. It is not possible to reduce all risk of COVID-19 in pods.

Health and safety tips for joining a learning pod and hosting a learning pod

Joining a learning pod in EnglishSpanishArabicVietnameseChinese Simplified, Chinese TraditionalKoreanUrduBurmese 

Hosting a learning pod in EnglishSpanishArabicVietnameseChinese SimplifiedChinese TraditionalKoreanUrduBurmese

Additional Resources

 Information from the CDC related to Schools and Child Care Programs

Texas Health and Human Services DSHS COVID-19 website