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Home » About OSPI » News Releases and Statements » Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources

Many areas of the world, including the United States, are experiencing an expanding outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus, COVID-19.

On March 11, the World Health Organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. To slow the spread of the virus, on March 13, Governor Inslee ordered all public and private K–12 schools in Washington state to close through April 24. On April 6, the Governor announced all schools would remain closed from providing traditional, in-person instruction through the rest of the 2019–20 school year.

OSPI is committed to providing ongoing guidance and resources as we experience this unprecedented situation together. The most current guidance and resources are provided below.

For School Districts

On July 16, 2020, OSPI posted the Washington Schools 2020 Reopening Plan Template. All school districts, state-tribal education compact schools, and charter schools are required to submit the plan to OSPI and the State Board of Education within two weeks of their fall 2020 start date. The plan must be approved by their local governing body.

In May 2020, OSPI convened a workgroup to inform recommendations and guidance for school districts as they plan for the reopening of Washington's schools in fall 2020 after school was closed from providing in-person instruction from March–June 2020 due to COVID-19. The broad workgroup consisted of more than 120 educators, education leaders, elected officials, community-based organizations, parents, students, and community members. Their expertise and recommendations informed the Reopening Washington Schools 2020: District Planning Guide, published June 11, 2020. The guide includes guidance by OSPI and the workgroup, as well as sections on health and safety from the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industries.

On June 24, OSPI published a questions & answers (Q&A) document to provide answers to some of the questions raised most frequently by school and district administrators.

Smaller workgroups will be meeting in June and July of 2020 to provide school districts with guidance and recommendations on serving certain student groups in the fall, including students with disabilities, students in career and technical education courses, and our youngest learners. There are also groups meeting to provide guidance on parent and family engagement, as well as higher education transitions. More information is available on the workgroup webpage.

Federal Funding

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund, created through the CARES Act, will grant Washington state $216 million, of which $195 million will be provided to school districts as sub-award using the Title I allocation methodology. Posted June 25, 2020: Final ESSER allocation amounts are available by district. In the spreadsheet, please see the second tab ("Final ESSER June 22") for the final allocation amounts.

Posted June 25, 2020 is a detailed questions and answers (Q&A) document for school districts about the distribution of ESSER funds, allowable uses, requirements, and more. As districts receive their portion of ESSER funds, OSPI has four priorities that we expect districts will make priorities in their work, as well.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Pub. L. No. 116-136 was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act provides substantial relief to students and educators who have been profoundly affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). CARES Act funding for nationwide distribution to school districts was set at $13.5 billion. 

In addition to providing funding, the CARES Act authorized the U.S. Department of Education to provide flexibility through waivers of specific requirements in K–12 education funding and programs in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965. More information about these waivers is available in OSPI Bulletin 032-20, published April 15, 2020.

Accounting for COVID-Related Expenditures

Posted July 1, 2020: The COVID-related expenditure tool is now available. In preparation for submitting their initial claim for CARES Act funding disbursement, districts should follow the directions in the tool and submit their COVID-related expenditures since March 2020. 

The COVID-19 situation is considered a subsequent event for accounting purposes, which needs to be disclosed in the notes to the 2018–19 financial statements for school district audit reports that are being issued now. A subsequent event is a significant event that occurs after fiscal year end, but before the financial statements have been issued. The financial impacts may not be known at this time, but there are significant operational impacts and schools are operating in an environment that is vastly different than just a few months ago. OSPI has created a template for the note required to be added to the financial statement.

In addition, OSPI has prepared accounting guidelines to provide a framework through which districts can identify COVID-related expenditures. The guidelines also include a preview of the data reporting template for those expenditures. These expenditures will be reported through a supplemental reporting tool and will not be separately identified in each school district’s financial statement (F-196) this fall.

State Apportionment

Posted June 25, 2020: OSPI is crafting guidance on how to quantify and report student FTE through a continuous learning or hybrid learning model for the 2020–21 school year. When the guidance is finalized, it will be posted to this section of the webpage.

Basic Education Funding Sources

Published May 4, 2020 is a high-level overview of the state budget with respect to basic education versus non-basic education funding sources. This document is for discussion purposes only, and is not intended to be legally binding. Questions on the included categories or characterizations should be directed to T.J. Kelly, Chief Financial Officer, at thomas.kelly@k12.wa.us or 360-725-6301.

To support families during the COVID-19 crisis, the federal government has approved additional funds for meals for families with children who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals. The food benefits are called Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits. On June 8, OSPI released a toolkit of resources for school districts to share information about P-EBT with eligible families

Many students rely on school meals to meet their nutritional needs. In addition, as this outbreak begins to impact the economic environment, we know more families may find themselves needing assistance. During these school closures, school districts may provide breakfast and lunch to any student, regardless of their family income, at the location(s) designated by the district.

Guidance for school districts is available on OSPI’s Meals & Nutrition Guidance webpage.

State law (RCW 28A.150.220) requires school districts to provide a district-wide average of 1,027 instructional hours and 180 school days within each academic year. Ordinarily, districts receive state funding based on the number of students enrolled in the district during that time. OSPI is authorized to waive these requirements for districts in the event of unforeseen emergency events, including epidemics (RCW 28A.150.290[2]).

On April 29, 2020, OSPI adopted temporary emergency rules (Chapter 392-901 WAC) establishing the terms and conditions governing school districts' entitlement to state funds during the 2019–20 school year when the district was unable to fully meet the required number of school days and instructional hours.

The terms and conditions are explained in the School Days & Instructional Hours Emergency Waivers & District Reporting Requirements: Frequently Asked Questions document published April 30, 2020.

The Emergency School Closure Waiver Application must be submitted by all local education agencies (LEAs) requesting a waiver of instructional hours or school days that the LEA was unable to offer in the 2019–20 school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic or other unforeseen emergency events.

The publications on supporting multilingual students/English learners and migrant students under Title I, Part C are intended to provide school districts with guidance and strategies for providing continuous learning to these student populations during school facility closures. The publications were published on April 27, 2020.

Translated guidance:

During school facility closures, Superintendent Reykdal has eliminated pass/fail grading as a matter of state policy. Student learning and grading for the remainder of the school facility closure will focus on the following framework:

  • Students in grades K–8 will be challenged to demonstrate effort and success in learning standards established by their teachers. Students will move on to the next grade, unless by mutual agreement between parents/guardians and teachers they agree to repeat a grade or a portion of learning missed. Districts will retain complete decision-making on middle school grading practices for students not taking high school credit-bearing courses.
  • Grades 9–12 and middle school students taking credit-bearing high school level work will be graded using the following principles:
    1. Do no harm!
    2. Every student will get an opportunity to improve their grade with their March 17 status as a baseline.
    3. No student will receive a “pass,” “fail,” or “no credit” grade for any course.
    4. Teachers will assign grades or assign an “incomplete” for students that cannot engage in an equitable way.
    5. Every class taken during the closure period will be given a statewide designator on the high school transcript to denote the unique environment in which the course was taken.
    6. Students assigned an “incomplete” for a course will be given opportunities to re-engage in the learning standards based on local school district decisions in consultation with the student/parents/guardians, including but not limited to:
      • Summer school,
      • Courses in the following term or year,
      • Independent study,
      • Competency-based courses,
      • Online courses, or
      • Backfilling the incomplete grade with the letter grade obtained in the next course taken in that subject area.
    7. All students will be given an opportunity to engage in continuous learning to maintain or improve their mastery of essential standards.

This statewide framework will create more consistency across the state, but districts will still decide which letter grade system to use. However, “F’s” will not be an option. The full Student Learning & Grading Guidance document was published on April 21, 2020.

Emergency rules filed April 29, 2020 establish the terms and conditions governing local education agencies' (LEAs') entitlement to receive basic education apportionment allocations during the 2019–20 school year when the LEAs could not offer the statutory minimum number of school days or annual average total instructional hour offerings due to emergency closures. The emergency rules also address standards for continuous learning for the remainder of the 2019–20 school year.

Questions about the guidance and the rules have been collected and answered in the Student Learning & Grading Guidance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document posted April 29, 2020.

Separately, on May 29, OSPI, in partnership with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, Council of Presidents, and Student Achievement Council, published a joint statement regarding the grading of College in the High School and Running Start courses.

Although schools are closed from providing traditional in-person instruction, education must continue. All schools were expected to have begun providing educational services by March 30, 2020.

OSPI's Continuous Learning 2020 publication, developed in partnership with a stakeholder group of education leaders, provides school districts with detailed guidance, tools, and resources for meeting student, educator, and family needs while schools are closed.

In late February and early March, we set a high bar for districts who wanted to continue distance learning if their school buildings were to close. The situation in our state has drastically evolved since that time. Subsequent to our initial guidance, Governor Inslee has shut down all schools in the state for a minimum of six weeks (which has since been extended) and the U.S. Department of Education has provided much needed guidance. We have an obligation to our students to provide them with opportunities to continue their learning during this pandemic.

The term “continuous learning” means establishing and maintaining connections with students and families to provide learning materials and supports using a variety of modalities (e.g., email, phone, printed learning materials, and available online platforms).

Resources to assist districts, students, and parents/guardians are available on OSPI's Resources for Continuous Learning During School Closures webpage.

Translated guidance:

During the long-term school closure, school districts should work with students, their families, and their communities to ensure seniors remain on track to graduate. Bulletin 022-20 provides school and district staff with options and flexibility for providing seniors with the assistance they need, including guidance on meeting credit requirements, assessment options, dual credit, special education services, alternative learning settings, and supporting their emotional well-being.

On April 29, 2020, OSPI published a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document about graduation pathways for the Class of 2020. The FAQ covers questions related to flexibility in graduation requirements for the Class of 2020, graduation pathways, pathways for students with disabilities, and the Expedited Assessment Appeals (EAA) waiver.

Guidance from Partners

At the outset of the temporary school building closure, OSPI provided guidance to districts, schools, and local associations about teacher and principal evaluation for the 2019–20 school year only.  Now that school staff will be engaged in continuous learning for students while school buildings are closed for the rest of the school year, OSPI is updating the guidance for completing teacher and principal evaluations for 2019–20. 

Guiding Principles

The underlying principle to use common sense regarding evaluation remains. This includes:

  • Honoring work that has already been done by the evaluatee and the evaluator to provide/substantiate evidence. 
  • Recognizing that the opportunities for providing/substantiating evidence in the usual ways have been restricted, and that with this, the absence of evidence for a particular indicator, component, or student growth component should not be cause for lowering a score.
  • Ensuring that this guidance applies for the 2019–20 school year only and that both prior and subsequent years’ procedures comply with Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 28A.405.100.

Procedures for the logistics of completing the evaluation process and forms may need to change for the 2019–20 school year. Tools such as evaluation conferences via phone or videoconferencing software, electronic or email signatures, and forms being used for this year only may be necessary. 

A slightly revised (from the March bulletin) chart appears below. In addition, a Frequently Asked Questions document for this evaluation period can be found on the TPEP webpage. Please check this page regularly for updates to this information. We anticipate posting guidance for eVAL users shortly. 

Classroom Teacher and Principal Evaluation Guidance


Anticipated Scenario

Recommended Solution


Evaluatees whose evidence demonstrates “Proficient” or “Distinguished” rating at the date of school closure or most recent date of progress review

Move those ratings to final summative score for the 2019–20 school year


Evaluatees with zero to five years’ experience whose evidence indicates a rating of “Basic” at the date of school closure or most recent date of progress review

Move the “Basic” rating to final summative rating for the 2019–20 school year



Evaluatees with more than five years’ experience whose evidence indicates a score of “Basic” at the date of school closure or most recent date of progress review

Handled locally on case-by-case basis OR

No final score with a letter placed in personnel file describing circumstances 


Evaluatees at any level of experience whose evidence indicates a score of “Unsatisfactory” at the date of school closure or most recent date of progress review

Handled locally on a case-by-case basis. 

(Care taken here to ensure the “Unsatisfactory” rating is not the result of missing evidence, but rather based on holistic assessment of evidence provided) 


Evaluatees on probation or plan of improvement

Handled locally on case-by-case basis


Evaluatees on Focused Evaluation


Retain score for final summative evaluation

Per the Governor’s directive, during mandatory closures, school districts are prohibited from providing in-person educational, recreational, and other K–12 school programs using their school buildings and facilities.

Districts will not be prevented from using their facilities to provide child care, for individual staff to remotely lead or develop content for professional learning or staff meetings, to hold Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, to provide direct services to individual students, or for other activities deemed essential and necessary by the district administration.

If districts determine that the use school facilities to provide educational services is essential and necessary under state or federal law, the following guidelines must be followed:

  1. Consistent with the timeline of the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy directive, no group meetings of staff, including for professional learning or staff meetings, should occur. School districts should utilize online, phone, or other alternatives to address this need.
  2. Facilities should only be used for providing direct services to individual students where there is no alternative for the service delivery and both the service is necessary and essential AND the use of the facility is both necessary and essential. This is expected to be an unusual occurrence.
  3. Facilities are not to be used for providing direct services to groups of students.
  4. Any gatherings within school facilities must comply with applicable social distancing directives and health guidelines. Districts must continue to monitor and implement guidance from state and local health officials.

NEW: On May 27, 2020, the state Department of Health published guidance on child care, youth development, and summer day camps during the COVID-19 outbreak.

During long-term school closures, child care will be critically important to support frontline healthcare workers and first responders who are focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.

Schools may choose to offer child care independently or in collaboration with community-based organizations, such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and YMCA. If schools operate preschool programs or have existing partnerships with Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP), Head Start, or other community-based preschool programs, they should determine the extent to which these programs may be able serve prioritized children and families. If schools intend to offer infant and toddler care, they should partner with an experienced community-based organization or staff with individuals who have expertise in infant and toddler care to manage these efforts. 

Child care should continue to be provided throughout the entire school closure period, including during previously scheduled spring breaks or release days. Schools are not expected to provide child care on evenings or weekends. Families needing care outside of the school’s care schedule should contact the Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center at 1-800-446-1114.

Schools must adhere to the guidelines for maintaining health and safety in child care environments provided by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH). DOH provides guidance for health screening, social distancing, and other health and safety practices, as well steps to take if children, staff, or parents/guardians contract COVID-19 or develop symptoms. Persons who are older, pregnant, have underlying health conditions, or have compromised immune systems are at higher risk of developing complications from this virus. These individuals should not provide child care or visit child care facilities.

See further guidance on child care in OSPI guidance published March 23, 2020.

Guidance from Partners

If students in the school district are receiving general education instruction and student support services, then districts must have a plan for how all students with disabilities will also receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). There is not an expectation that IEP services would be delivered exactly as the IEP states. This is a national emergency, and districts should be communicating with families and making decisions based on student need and how those services can be provided. 

More information about provision of special education services is included on OSPI’s COVID-19 Special Education Guidance webpage. The page includes in-depth guidance related to, among other topics:

  • Providing services during the school closure
  • Communicating with parents and families
  • Continuing to hold eligibility, transition, or IEP meetings or child find screenings using distance technology
  • Safety Net and funding
  • Working with Non-Public Agencies
  • Extended School Year services
  • Compensatory services

 Other Resources

State assessments are canceled statewide for the remainder of the 2020 school year. These include: Smarter Balanced Assessments (English Language Arts and Math) for grades 3–8 and 10; Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM) English Language Arts and Math for grades 3–8 and 10; English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA21); Washington Comprehensive Assessment of Science for grades 5, 8, and 11; Washington Access to Instruction and Measurement (WA-AIM) Science for grades 5, 8, and 11; WIDA Alternate ACCESS for English learners; and WaKIDS for Transitional Kindergarten.

If a student has completed or partially completed any of the above assessments, districts should submit or return the assessments or other information using the regular processes. Districts should return any unused materials.  

Assuming school districts reopen later this spring, graduating seniors may choose to take an assessment to meet graduation pathway requirements or to earn the Seal of Biliteracy. Additional information regarding assessments, graduation pathways, and graduation requirements will be issued in future bulletins and guidance.

COVID-19 is not at all connected to race, ethnicity, or nationality. School staff should be mindful that bullying, intimidation, or harassment of students based on actual or perceived race, color, national origin, or disability (including the actual disability of being infected with COVID-19 or perception of being infected) may result in a violation of state and federal civil rights laws. School districts must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate what occurred when responding to reports of bullying or harassment. If parents and families believe their child has experienced bullying, harassment, or intimidation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, they should contact their school district’s designated civil rights compliance coordinator.

The U.S. Department of Education has also released guidance on addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the civil rights of students.

For Students & Families

Resources for Continuous Learning

In response to school closures due to COVID-19, OSPI content experts have curated a selection of links to external organizations providing high-quality online educational materials – courses, lessons, videos, physical and outdoor activity suggestions, etc. Please note that in many cases, these resources are free to use online but are not openly licensed for wide scale reuse and adaptation. These resources were carefully chosen for their alignment to Washington State K–12 Learning Standards (or a recognized equivalent) and/or direct experience with effective implementation with students. 

Social Distancing Guidance

Schools are closed to keep students away from each other so they don’t spread germs to each other and to the community. These school closures should not be treated as spring or summer break. Parents and families should do their best to keep students away from each other and others. This means no large playdates, sleepovers, or parties. Parents should aim to keep their children active during the closure – taking them for walks, to the park, bike rides, and other outdoor or indoor fitness activities – but should strive to keep children out of large groups for the time being. Read more about social distancing from the state Department of Health.

Videos of Superintendent Reykdal

Previous Guidance