Talking to your student about COVID-19 & school closures
It’s likely your student knows about COVID-19, whether it’s from social media, their friends or trusted adults in their lives. Below is information about COVID-19 you can use to help address any questions you student may have.
Have a young student? This comic may help explain this public health situation to younger children.
- Talking with students about COVID-19: Reactions and how to help
- Talking With Children: Tips for Caregivers, Parents and Teachers During Infectious Dieases Outbreaks
- More support for talking about the coronavirus
- Talking with students about school closures
What is coronavirus (COVID-19)
It is a respiratory disease that was first detected in China and which has now been detected in more than 100 locations internationally, including in the United States.
How it spreads
During the week of February 23, CDC reported community spread of the virus, meaning some people have been infected who are not sure how or where they became infected.
In Washington, community spread resulted in the first death in the United States from COVID-19, as well as the first reported case of COVID-19 in a health care worker, and the first potential outbreak in a long-term care facility.
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Spread from contact with infected surfaces or objects
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.
Symptoms and severity
People with coronavirus have:
- a dry, itchy cough
- a fever
- and trouble breathing
These symptoms may appear between 2-14 days after exposure. Much is still being learned about the disease, but reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe – meaning you could either show no symptoms, just have a really bad cold or suffer from complete organ failure.
Is my student at risk?
People under the age of 20 have a low risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19. The risk of having more serious symptoms of COVID-19 increase with age and whether that person has an underlying health condition. The Washington Department of Health has broken down COVID-19 cases by age on their website.
The CDC regularly updates their COVID-19 webpage with the latest information, along with helpful visual aids:
State testing, grad requirements, end of school, BECCA
State Testing Cancelled
OSPI is canceling all state testing for the 2019–20 school year. This includes the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA), the Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science (WCAS), the Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM), and WIDA Alternate ACCESS for English learners.
If schools are not impacted by closures, they are encouraged to continue administering the English Language Proficiency Assessment for the 21st Century (ELPA21) until the end of the testing window, March 27.
This is subject to change based on additional closure announcements.
The Class of 2020 has access to the Expedited Appeals Waiver which allows students to waive the current assessment graduation requirement to pass both the ELA and Math Smarter Balanced Assessment.
Future guidance will be provided by the state regarding making up instructional days with regard to credits needed for graduation.
End of school
At this time, OSPI will grant emergency waivers to allow districts to end the school year on Friday, June 19, at the latest.
Parents and guardians who are worried about how COVID-19-related absences will affect their students BECCA status should speak to their BECCA coordinator.