Promoting Healthy Hygiene Practices/Behaviors that Reduce Spread > Cohorts

It is important for schools to implement practices to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, by limiting cross-over of students, teachers, and staff to the extent feasible. Cohorting, an example of such practices, is forming groups of students, and sometimes teachers or staff, that stay together throughout the school day to minimize exposure for students, teachers, and staff across the school environment. Cohorts are often referred to as pods.

Key Considerations:

  • Ideally, students and staff within a cohort only have physical proximity with others in the same cohort. Benefits of this practice include:
    • decreasing opportunities for exposure to or transmission of SARS-CoV-2,
    • facilitating more efficient contact tracing in the event of a positive case, and
    • allowing for targeted testing, quarantine, and isolation of a single cohort instead of school-wide measures in the event of a positive case or cluster of cases
  • Cohorting can be implemented in schools that are reopening using the traditional model with students attending school in person full-time or as part of a hybrid school model (e.g. students attending in-person on an alternating schedule).
  • Varying strategies for implementing cohorting may be needed for elementary, middle, and high schools (e.g. alternating days when cohorts attend school, keep cohorts together and have teachers rotate, assign student cohorts to specific days or weeks for in-person and online learning).
  • Develop protocols that limit contact between cohorts and direct contact with parents, guardians, and caregivers (e.g. stagger student arrival, drop-off, and pick-up time or locations by cohort and transporting documents for signature, medications, supplies via student backpack).

CDC Resources

K-12 Schools COVID-19 Mitigation Toolkit

Guidance for Operating Child Care Programs during COVID-19

School Reopening with COVID-19: Maintain Healthy Operations (Video)