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When Learning Starts: Playbook for Healthy School Communities

As schools and districts across the nation prepare for the new school year in the coming weeks, they are likely to face even greater strain as they seek to meet the academic and health needs of students, staff, and teachers with already limited resources.

Planning for the Next Normal at School:
Keeping students, staff, and families safe and healthy

To assist schools in proactively addressing the health needs of the school community, a number of nationally recognized and trusted school health organizations have come together to develop a playbook for when learning starts again — “Planning for the Next Normal at School: Keeping students, staff, and families safe and healthy.” This guide aims to equip school and district leaders with specific, evidence-informed guidance and operating procedures for keeping school communities mentally and physically safe as we shape a new approach to learning. Each chapter of the playbook will include five “starter plays” that provide practical strategies and actionable steps improving health in both in-person and virtual school environments.

The Planning for the Next Normal at School playbook is an evolving collection of recommendations, co-authored by Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Action for Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools Campaign, and SHAPE America to address the total health needs of the school community for in-person and virtual learning environments. The playbook provides a framework to understand, assess, and implement strategies for COVID-19 prevention, social drivers of health, physical activity and physical education, staff and teacher well-being, and mental health and well-being.

This playbook will be updated periodically, and your feedback is important. Please take this anonymous survey to let us know what you found is valuable and what you would like to see included in the future.

Click the     icon within the gray toolbar below to download the playbook PDF.


“The last four months have placed a spotlight on the need to support our staff, so that they can support our students and school community. This playbook will provide our district with the framework and tools to do exactly that as we navigate our reopening plans.”

— Sheila Barrett McCabe,
Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services for the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District in California

“The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a huge toll on families and the community. Thankfully, we have Kaiser Permanente and Alliance for a Healthier Generation to guide our work in supporting the physical and mental health needs of adolescents as we continue to engage students in learning. Their published playbook gives educators concrete steps to follow to support staff and students in learning as well as a wealth of additional resources. We are already using the playbook’s clearly-articulated and thoughtfully-reasoned steps to inform our planning for the coming year.”

— Will Cushman,
Principal at Fairfield High School

Checklists for the Five Starter Plays

Track your progress towards completing the 5 starter plays for each playbook chapter. Download and print the PDF below.

Playbook Videos

Take a deeper dive into the Playbook with the authors of each of the Playbook’s five chapters. Each video features a conversation with the author as they walk you through their chapter’s starter plays and accompanying resources.

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