Healthy Communities

COVID-19 Guidance for Educators

Guidance for Schools and Childcare Programs regarding COVID-19

The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) is providing the following guidance in an effort to help schools prepare in light of the spreading epidemic of Novel Coronavirus disease of 2019 (COVID-19). Though the current risk to Arkansans is low, the fact of international travel from areas affected by the epidemic requires that administrators be prepared for (1) how to answer questions regarding students or staff who may have traveled to countries where community spread of the virus is occurring and (2) begin making plans for what schools will do to help maintain continuity of teaching and learning if there is community spread of COVID-19 in Arkansas in the future.

Background on COVID-19

The virus that causes COVID-19 is transmitted from person-to-person between people in close contact with one another (about 6 ft) through respiratory droplets, such as when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of those nearby and be inhaled into the lungs. This transmission is much like other respiratory viruses, such as influenza. It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. The illness caused by this virus can range from mild to severe, and the most common symptoms are typically fever, cough and shortness of breath. For more information regarding this virus, click here.

Guidance about Students and Staff Who Have Traveled or Possibly Been Exposed to COVID-19 

At present ADH are monitoring travelers who have returned within the last 14 days from countries with sustained community transmission. At present these are the affected countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. As the epidemic spreads, we will likely also monitor travelers from other affected countries. Travelers from affected countries are advised to stay at home and monitor for symptoms until 14 days have passed from their departure from that country, while limiting interaction with others. Once 14 days have passed without any symptoms of illness, CDC recommends these travelers be allowed to return to school and public activities.

Guidance for Schools on Preparing for Possibility of Community Outbreaks of COVID-19

The CDC has said, “As this global outbreak evolves, US communities, including schools, are encouraged to prepare for the possibility of community level outbreaks in the United States.” Therefore, we recommend school districts prepare to implement the following steps if community spread occurs in Arkansas:

More detailed advice from CDC regarding this planning can be found here.


Public Health Accrediation Board
Arkansas Department of Health
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4815 W. Markham, Little Rock, AR 72205-3867