Schools, childcare, and youth programs during the COVID-19 pandemic

Information about schools, childcare, after school programs, summer camps, childcare and nannies.

Need to know

Follow the guidance below to keep you or your child safe when going to school, youth programs, and playdates.  For complete detailed information on schools, education and children, See official guidance from the Department of Public Health.

Schools must apply for approval to reopenSchools must meet safety standards by the health officer before they can reopen as safely as possible. Check the school reopening dashboard to see where schools are in the process and the current COVID-19 cases in schools.

If you have questions:

Call 628-217-7499



Schools (TK-12)

See public health guidance from the Department of Public Health for public, private, and parochial TK to 12 schools. Each school or school district will make their own plans to reopen for onsite classes from this guidance. 

As schools reopen, distance learning is available. Talk to your school about their plan for distance learning.


General guidance

Face masks, stable cohorts, physical distancing, and indoor ventilation are most important in stopping the spread of COVID-19.

All students and staff must wear face coverings while at school. Everyone should bring their own although the school will have extras for those who forget. Caregivers who are dropping off or picking up children outside the school are also required to wear masks.

All students and staff will be checked daily for possible COVID-19 symptomsStay home if you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19.


Each school or school district will have their own plans for:

  • Testing their staff regularly for COVID-19 depending on tier level
  • Letting staff and parents know about COVID-19 cases at the school
  • Limiting mixing students and staff
  • Managing student schedules and classroom layout
  • Ventilation
  • Outdoor and indoor sports and music activities 
  • Planning safer activities

See the Schools Directive for the most up to date information


In-Person Support Services at Schools 

Schools can provide in-person support (specialized services) 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

All support programs must follow the guidance for out-of-school time programs

Youth programs and childcare programs

Childcare programs are open for all children who are not yet school-aged.  All staff and children older than 2 years must wear a face mask while at the program.  To keep children and staff healthy, facilities serving youth must follow SFDPH guidance for childcare programs.

Recreational programs outside of school and childcare are open for all children.  You can only enroll your  child in 2 programs at a time. This includes music and sports programs through their school.   If children play on an indoor moderate-to-high contact sport (for example, indoor basketball), they cannot be in another program.  The program must be for at least 3 weeks.  For more information see official SFDPH guidance for out-of-school time programs.

Summer camps

The city is currently working on new guidelines for 2021 summer camps. Use the following guidelines to help plan your summer.

The following guidelines may change based on San Francisco's COVID-19 risk level ("tier") as well as local and state health orders.  

  • Camps may run from 6/1/2021 to 8/31/2021
  • Summer day camps are considered out-of-school time programs and should follow that guidance
  • Camps must be at least 3 weeks
  • Most camps can offer cohorts up to 27 people, including children, youth, and staff
  • Cohorts that involve any component of indoor sports, dance or exercise can have up to 16 people, including staff.
  • Camps must follow local and state guidance, including guidance around sports and music.

We will post information here and in the Department of Public Health directives once we have more details.

Nannies, babysitters, and tutors can come to your home

Babysitters and nannies can come to your home to care for your children. Being outdoors 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 this Tip sheet: Reducing COVID-19 Risks for Learning Pods, from the Department of Public Health.

Taking care of your kids and playdates

Playdates outside are safer. See current numbers of people allowed away from home. It is hard for children to keep 6 feet apart from each other. If they are older than 2, they must wear a face covering.

Take children to parks, playgrounds and other open activities near your house. Encourage them to stay active during the coronavirus pandemic.

Special cases

Higher education

Programs included:

  • Universities and colleges
  • Vocational training courses (graphic design, plumbing)
  • Career pathway programs
  • Job skills training
  • Adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes 

These programs should offer distance learning as much as possible.

Students and staff must be allowed to decline in-person classes.

Classes can be done indoors and outdoors if in-person.

For more information, see official SFDPH guidance for higher education.


Sports and Music

All schools, community programs, private teams and leagues must follow the directive for organized sports.  Musical activities are considered low-contact activities.  They follow the same rules as low contact organized sports. More detail is also found under general requirements for individuals in the Stay Safer at Home Health Order.


Family Resource Centers

Family resource centers are open to help parents and families.  See guidance about safe practices for these centers.


Last updated April 06, 2021