Resources for School Leaders

Guidance for School Operations

Recommendations for the 2021–22 School Year

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.

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.

This FAQs document includes answers to questions about COVID-19 asked by school leaders during meetings and by email. 

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)

Diagrama de flujos con guía sobre pruebas COVID-19 para escuelas (.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