Questions and Answers about School Reopening

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Updated October 19, 2020

Below are answers to common questions about plans to reopen school campuses for the 2020-2021 school year. This list will be updated regularly. Additional school FAQs are available from Ventura County Public Health and the California Department of Public Health.


Is COVID-19 testing required for all students and staff before they can return to school?

Ventura County schools will follow state and local public health guidance regarding conditions for reopening schools. Based on current guidance, universal COVID testing is neither recommended nor required. (7-14-20)


Are students and staff required to wear masks at school?

Face coverings are required for all staff and students in third grade and above. According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), face coverings are strongly encouraged for young children between two years old and second grade, if they can be worn properly. A face shield is an acceptable alternative for children in this cohort who cannot wear them properly. 

Exemptions apply for persons younger than two years old, anyone who has trouble breathing, anyone who is unconscious or incapacitated, and anyone who is otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance. (8-3-20)


Face Covering Requirement

Under 2 years old

Not required

2 years old through 2nd grade

Strongly encouraged

3rd grade and above

Yes, unless exempt


What type of mask is required for students or staff returning to school after a confirmed positive COVID-19 exposure?

Both cloth face coverings and medical/surgical face masks may be worn to provide protection to others. (8-3-20)


How will students be screened for symptoms?

Ventura County Public Health guidance provides current recommendations for screening and evaluating ill students. Trained school personnel will be providing daily active and/or passive screening of all staff and students. Active screening is conducted at school and passive screening is conducted by parents at home. Based on state and local recommendations, any student or staff exhibiting symptoms will be referred for further evaluation. (8-25-20)


Is a COVID-19 test required for students and staff who have been in contact with someone known to be positive?

Per California Department of Public Health:

Staff/ students that are identified as a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 contact will be sent home, recommended for testing, and would quarantine for 14 days at home from last exposure.

Students who remained with the same cohort of individuals, the teacher and students in the classroom with the individual who was confirmed as being positive for COVID-19 should be considered contacts and be referred for testing. (10-14-20)

Is a negative test result required before returning to school for individuals who have been in contact with someone known to be positive?

Current CDC guidance for an individual considered a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 is to isolate at home until 14 days after their last exposure. The individual should isolate at home and be provided with an option for distance learning. (10-5-20)


Why are the recommendations about positive COVID-19 cases different for elementary and middle/high school students?

The intent is to recognize that middle school and high school students may be more likely to consistently maintain physical distancing requirements. Elementary aged students, due to their varying developmental stages, may not be able to consistently maintain and respect social distancing guidelines. Consequently, in coordination with VCPH, if it is determined that middle school and high school students in a specific environment did maintain strict social distancing, they may not be considered close contacts. (8-25-20)


What are the objective criteria about the spread of the virus that will determine when school campuses should open or close?

Ventura County schools will follow state and local public health guidance regarding conditions for reopening schools, including complete and/or partial closure. Based on current guidance, Ventura County schools are preparing plans to reopen that incorporate a combination of distance learning and face-to-face environments with social distancing in place. Decisions are based on state and local illness rates. Schools will be conducting attendance surveillance and coordinating with Ventura County Public Health. Closure of a classroom or multiple classrooms may be necessary to prevent disease transmission, but any decision to close classrooms or schools will be made in consultation with Ventura County Public Health. (8-25-20)


If a school nurse is unavailable, how will school personnel get necessary medical advice? 

Identified school personnel meet regularly with Ventura County Public Health and have access to public health nurses. Identified school personnel will be provided training and support by public health and VCOE. Public health nurses have been assigned to receive calls via a designated school phone line and a designated school email. (8-25-20)