Operation Guidelines for Reentry to Schools

Guidance to maintain a safe and healthy school environment

This content is also available in the following format:

Operation Guidelines for Reentry to Schools PDF (updated 8/11/2020)

Since March 2020, City of St. Louis school exreturn to schoolecutive administrators and City of St. Louis government officials (Mayor’s Office, Director of Health) have been meeting weekly. To establish consistency among City of St. Louis school systems, this group is offering the following guidance with regard to returning to school.

The intent of these guidelines is to establish and maintain safe and healthy environments for staff and students, and the guidance should be interpreted to effectuate this intent. The guidance is based on scientific evidence available on July 5, 2020, and may change as more information becomes available.


To protect the health of students and staff, each school district must

  • have an infectious disease plan;
  • establish a process by which each school in your jurisdiction keeps and maintains accurate records of anyone who has been inside a building;
  • comply with the Missouri Revised Statute Section 167.181 and 19 CSR 19c-20-28 which govern immunization of students;
  • at a minimum, maintain 3ft around each student’s desk in the classroom;
  • conduct daily health and temperature screening for students and staff at the beginning of the school day;
  • minimize contact and social mixing during school hours ;
  • consult and obtain approval from the City of St. Louis Department of Health prior to planning any school assemblies;
  • work with the City of St. Louis Department of Health to ensure testing is available for all staff prior to returning to work;
  • require face coverings for all staff and students in the 4th grade and above while in the school building, and all students when riding school buses;
    • Students with medical conditions that prohibit them from being able to wear face covering will be exempt as long as they have a document from their medical provider.
  • establish an isolation area within each school which will be used to remove the ill person from the school’s general population;
  • require temperature and health screenings and wearing of face coverings for all essential visitors (e.g. parents/guardians, health officials, business officials, vendors that provide essential services for the school);
  • prohibit visitation of nonessential visitors;
  • not hold any in-person field trips during the Fall semester of the 2020/2021 school year;
  • comply with the Missouri statutes (19 CSR 20-20.020) governing communicable disease reporting requirements;
  • establish protocols for loading and unloading buses to minimize person to person contact.


It is unlawful for any student to attend school unless they have been immunized or exempted as required under the rules and regulations for the Department of Health and Senior Services. Families in the City of St. Louis who need assistance obtaining immunizations for their child(ren) should contact their medical provider or the City of St. Louis Department of Health (health@stlouis-mo.gov).

Taking Temperatures/Other Screening

Taking temperatures of students at the beginning of the school day is required. Although only a minority of children who have COVID-19 will have a fever it is important that students with other communicable diseases be excluded from school.  

Additionally, parents are encouraged to ask their child(ren) about symptoms of illness and take their temperature before sending them to school. This will reduce the chance that parents will send their child(ren) to school when they are ill. 

All staff must complete a standardized self-assessment screening before reporting to work. Questions on the self-assessment should ask if the person has had otherwise unexplained onset of fever, cough, chills, shortness of breath, muscle pain/ache that cannot be explained by other activities (i.e. exercising, recent trauma, etc.), sore throat or loss of taste or smell not explainable by a preexisting medical condition(s). The staff member must not be permitted to work if they answer “YES” to any of the screening questions. A sample screening tool will be made available to districts. Districts must also implement reporting and coverage protocols for staff that develop symptoms during the workday.

When Someone Is Sick

We have a culture of working or going to school when sick. We should change that culture and people should stay home when sick. This message should be clearly sent to staff, parents and students. Perfect attendance awards must be eliminated. In addition, school districts should review their Human Resources policies to make them less punitive for persons who develop illness and are not able to perform their job duties.

When a staff person is identified with symptoms:

  • Remove the individual from the general population immediately. If they are medically stable, send that person home immediately. If they are not stable, please call 911.
  • The staff must be advised to contact their healthcare provider if they exhibit symptoms or answered YES to any screening question. The healthcare provider will be able to determine whether the symptoms are a result of COVID-19 infection or if there are other health issues.

When a student is identified with symptoms:

  • Remove the individual from the general population immediately.
  • If the student is not medically stable, a staff person or school health official should call 911. Only trained staff should provide lifesaving care (e.g., CPR).
  • The school nurse or health official must contact the student’s parents as soon as possible. If medically stable, the student must be monitored while in isolation until their parent/guardian is able to pick them up.

Please consult the local public health agencies to determine when persons infected with COVID-19 should be allowed to return to school. Currently, the minimum is 10 days when a person is COVID-positive. For other communicable diseases, school health should review the City of St. Louis Infectious Disease Control Administrative Guidelines and Procedures and Exclusion Guide

Social Distancing

Social distancing is an effective preventive measure. While children are the least likely to exhibit serious symptoms from COVID-19, social distancing helps prevent the spread to others. Please consider the following social distancing strategies:

  • Class size – modify class sizes as required to comply with social distancing requirements.
  • Cafeteria – staggering lunch periods and using alternative locations for lunch to ensure social distancing can occur during lunch periods.
  • Checking in/out-parents or others should remain in a contained area (such as a vestibule) when checking students in/out during the school day. If others are waiting to check their student in/out it is best if they are able to wait outside so there is a limited number of individuals in the contained area.

For additional information, please review the City of St. Louis Guidance on Social Distancing in Schools.

Face Coverings

Staff and students must be instructed on the proper manner in which a face covering should be worn. Efforts should be made to destigmatize the wearing of face coverings. Staff members and students in the 4th grade and above must wear a face covering when in the school building. Face coverings are not required when providing outdoor instruction and students and staff are able to maintain the recommended physical distance (6ft) between others. Face coverings may be removed during lunch, so individuals can complete their meals. Three reusable face coverings must be made available for all students and staff. Extra face coverings should be kept on site to replace face coverings that may become soiled during the school day.


The wearing of gloves is necessary for health care workers, such as school nurses, who will be working with sick or suspected sick individuals. In addition, as a safety precaution, facility management and cleaning staff should use gloves when using cleaning products. A fresh pair of gloves should be worn when working with each new individual. An individual should use hand sanitizer before putting on gloves and then once again after removing gloves.

Hand Washing

Hands should be washed before eating, after eating, before and after group activities. Ideally, hands should be washed any time the face/mouth are touched (which would not be practical, especially for younger students).

Restroom Usage

  • Limit the number of students in the restroom. Try to implement scheduled restroom breaks so each grade/class can go at a specific time and avoid mixing classes.
  • Mark spaces outside restrooms to provide visual cues to ensure social distancing while waiting.

Cleaning and Disinfecting

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has provided information regarding cleaning and disinfecting your building and other areas. These guidelines can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.html

A few basic recommendations from the CDC, that we support, include:

  • Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant.
  • Cleaning with soap and water  on the surface.  on surfaces.
  • Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
    • More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use.
    • Surfaces and objects in public places should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
  • High touch surfaces include:
    • Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
  • Disinfect using EPA-registered household disinfectant (https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2-covid-19), properly diluted bleach solutions, or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.

For additional information, please see the City of St. Louis FAQ for Facilities Service and Cleaning Staff.

School Transportation

When possible, assign seats by cohort (same students sit together each day) which will help with contact tracing. However, all students must wear a face covering while riding transportation provided by the school to reduce the potential for COVID-19 transmission.


Recess activities must be limited to activities that permit social distancing.


A separate document will be provided that contains recommendations for organized sports.

Was this page helpful?      

Comments are helpful!
500 character limit

Feedback is anonymous.