Schools, childcare, and youth programs during the coronavirus pandemic

General information about schools, childcare, after school programs, and nannies.

Schools can only reopen with approval from the Health Officer

Schools must meet safety standards before they can reopen. After each school has applied to reopen, we will check their setup. Each school will reopen separately. See what to expect when your child's school reopens.

See approval status of schools

Check the school reopening dashboard

Right now, elementary schools are sending in their reopening safety plans to open grades TK to 6. All SF Unified School District schools expect to continue distance learning in the fall. Middle schools and high schools may apply to reopen outdoor classes.

See information about reopening applications and waivers for SF schools.

See preliminary public health guidance

The Department of Public Health has guidance for public, private, and parochial TK to 12 schools. Each school district will develop their own plans to reopen for onsite classes from this guidance.

Distance learning is available

Schools and other education programs can provide distance learning to their students. Teachers can go to work to prepare distance learning.

Schools are offering students free meals. Find out how to pick up free meals.

Youth programs, childcare programs, and in-person support services at schools are available

Childcare programs and recreational programs outside of school are open for all children.

Schools can provide in-person support for vulnerable children and youth. These children may be:

  • In a special education program or other specialized support service (including for disabilities)
  • Experiencing homelessness, housing insecurity, or food insecurity
  • Learning English

In-person support can include:

  • Occupational and physical therapy
  • Speech and language services
  • Behavioral services if part of an individualized educational program (IEP) or individual family support plan (IFSP)
  • Educational support as part of a targeted intervention strategy

Check your child for possible COVID-19 symptoms before you take them to a program. You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of health risks.

Facilities serving youth should set up physical distancing

To keep children and staff healthy, facilities serving youth must do the following, if possible:

  • Keep a maximum of 14 children in each space, or however many can stay 6 feet apart (whichever is less)
  • Keep groups of children separate from each other in a different room or space
  • Assign up to 2 adult staff per group of children
  • Have up to 4 adult staff only work with each other and with the same 2 cohorts of children
  • Sessions must last at least 3 weeks
  • Children and youth can enroll in only 1 program at a time
  • Follow SFDPH guidance for administrators of youth programs
  • Remind parents and caregivers they must wear face coverings while at these facilities, including dropping off and picking up children
  • Prohibit face coverings for children under 2 years, due to risk of suffocation
  • Encourage face coverings for children between ages 2 and 9, and only with adult supervision
  • Have children 10 years and over wear a face covering

If your child needs support in distance learning, see the Department of Children, Youth and their Families for information about community learning hubs.

Nannies, babysitters, and tutors can come to your home

Babysitters and nannies can come to your home to care for your children. Having everyone be outside is safest.

You should hire someone you trust to be staying safe when outside their home. Caregivers should be extra careful about staying healthy, if anyone in your family is over 60 or has a pre-existing health condition.

Tutors can also come to your home. Everyone should wear a face covering. Tutors should stay 6 feet away from your child, if they can. 

When someone from outside the household visits, you should open windows and doors to increase ventilation.

See guidance about creating a learning pod, from the Department of Public Health.

Taking care of your kids at home, but not on playdates

You cannot arrange playdates. It is hard for children to keep 6 feet apart from each other.

Entertain your children with games, reading, puzzles, and videos at home. Engage them in education using online tools. 

Take children to trails and open parks near your house. Encourage them to stay active during the coronavirus pandemic.

You can take them to outdoor playgrounds for 30 minutes at a time, staying 6 feet apart from others. If they are older than 2, they must wear a face covering.

Last updated December 09, 2020