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

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

What to do

Refer to the following guidance to keep you or your child safe when going to school, youth programs, and playdates. 

Schools (TK to 12)

Schools must apply for approval to reopen. Schools must meet safety standards by the health officer before they can reopen as safely as possible.

Each school or school district will make their own plans to reopen for onsite classes from DPH 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 on programs for children and youth: childcare, out‐of‐school time programs, and day camps.



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 guidance on programs for children and youth: childcare, out‐of‐school time programs, and day camps.



Recreational programs and summer camps

Youth programs

Recreational programs outside of school and childcare are open for all children.  You can enroll your child in multiple 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 should not be in another program. The program must be for at least 3 weeks. For more information see guidance on programs for children and youth: childcare, out‐of‐school time programs, and day camps.

Summer camps

The following guidelines may change based on San Francisco's COVID-19 risk level.

  • Camps may run from June 1, 2021 to August 31, 2021

Nannies, babysitters, and tutors can come to your home

Anyone who comes to work at your home must wear a facemask.  Everyone else should wear a face covering.

Babysitters and nannies can come to your home to care for your children.  Tutors can also come to your home. 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. 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 unvaccinated and:  

Taking care of your kids and playdates

Playdates outside are safer. See current numbers of people allowed away from home. If they are older than 2, they should wear a face covering outdoors.

They must wear a mask outdoors if they cannot stay 6 feet apart from others.  They must wear a mask if they are indoors.

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

See current state guidance on what is allowed for fully vaccinated individuals.


Resources for schools

The Department of Public Health has letters that schools and childcare programs can use to tell families if someone has been exposed to COVID-19.

See health directives for complete information on schools, after school programs, summer camps, sports, and childcare.

Special cases

Higher education

Programs include:

  • 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 indoor 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 guidance 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.

Get help

Technical assistance and guidance
Report positive cases in schools



COVID-19 cases in schools



School reopening application process 

Information on application process and on all school-related directives and orders

Last updated May 06, 2021