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

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources

OSPI is committed to providing ongoing guidance and resources for school districts, as well as resources for students and families as appropriate, as we navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our students, school employees, families, and communities. The most current guidance and resources are provided below.

From October 19–25, OSPI collected data from school districts showing their staff vaccination and exemption rates at the classroom, school building, and district central office levels. See the School Employee Vaccination Data.

For School Districts

School Employee Vaccine Requirement

As part of a safe and healthy reopening and our ability to provide continued in-person learning without major COVID-related disruptions, on August 18, Governor Inslee announced a new requirement for all K–12 school employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or obtain a religious or medical exemption by October 18, 2021.

See more information about the requirement:

OSPI, the Department of Health (DOH), and the Governor's Office expect all K–12 students to have the opportunity to attend school in-person full-time in the 2021–22 school year.

Health & Safety Requirements & Guidance

Schools are required, by order of the Governor, to follow the following health and safety guidance: 

If local education agencies willfully do not comply with health and safety requirements, OSPI will follow the process and timeline described in WAC 392-117-070 through WAC 392-117-085 to provide notice and time to come into compliance, and eventually withhold funds if noncompliance continues.

In addition to the required schools' guidance, DOH has published a supplemental guidance document with considerations for schools in reducing virus transmission. Schools are not required to follow the strategies included in the guidance. 

Other Resources

Sign up to receive ESSER updates via email!

Washington's Plan for the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund

Learning Recovery Reserve: Stakeholder Survey

While the bulk of ESSER funds go directly to school districts and are earmarked for specific programs, about 6% percent of funds (equivalent to $200 million) are broadly focused on learning recovery and acceleration. Throughout summer 2021, OSPI sought stakeholder input on uses for this amount. Please review the one-pager explainer, available in English and Spanish, which provides an overview on how the Legislature allocated federal ESSER funds. 

State Plan

The ARP ESSER fund, authorized by the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), provides funding to schools to support sustained safe building reopenings and operations while meeting the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. OSPI submitted Washington's plan for use of the ARP ESSER funds, required by the U.S. Department of Education, on June 7, 2021. 

Data collected in the Academic and Student Well-being Recovery Plans, due to OSPI by June 1, 2021, is available on the LEA Academic and Student Well-being Plan Data webpage.

The State Legislature and Congress required each public school district, tribal compact school, and charter school in Washington state to create and submit an Academic and Student Well-being Recovery Plan by June 1, 2021. The goal of the plan was to identify which students and student groups needed additional academic and well-being supports, define how those supports will be provided, and plan for recovery and acceleration of student learning and well-being over the summer, into the fall, and beyond. Each district was required to post their plan to their public-facing website and receive approval of their plan by their governing body prior to submitting their plan to OSPI.

To support completion of the plan, OSPI produced an Academic & Student Well-being Recovery Planning Guide as well as a Condensed Planning Tool in partnership with education leaders from districts, schools, and classrooms, as well as from education partner organizations. OSPI also published a Frequently Asked Questions document providing answers to some commonly asked questions.

Fillable Word Template of the Academic & Student Well-being Recovery Plan—English
Arabic | Chinese | Marshallese | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Ukrainian | Vietnamese

The most current guidance and resources related to funding are available on OSPI's COVID-19 State & Federal Funding webpage.

The most current guidance and resources related to supporting students receiving special education services during the pandemic are available on OSPI’s COVID-19 Special Education Guidance webpage

As schools bring students back this fall, child care and youth development programs, like before and after school care, tutoring/mentoring, and wrap-around services, will be an important part of the support system families rely on. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, these programs have offered academic and social-emotional support; access to computers and Wi-Fi; provided meals and snacks; connected students and families to financial, health, and other resources for families.

Increased collaboration and communication between schools and child/youth-serving community-based providers will be important for maintaining safety and continuity for children between school and programs, especially if there are instances of COVID-19 exposure. Working together in the months and years ahead will also help ensure that the child/youth-serving sector can continue to thrive so that families have access to the programs they need. As the pandemic continues, many programs are facing staffing and funding challenges due to fluctuating enrollment.

Schools can take steps to support students and families by engaging with local child care and youth development programs to ensure good communication channels are in place; especially around children who are served in common. Below are some easy ways to help families and communities manage back to school as successfully as possible:

  • Identify someone in the district as a point person between child care and youth development programs and share the contact information with those programs.
  • Prioritize referrals to existing programs before standing up additional child care options.
  • Plan for sharing information about known exposures between school and child care settings serving the same children, when possible, especially if the child care program regularly transports the child to school, or the school transports the child between care and school. Check with appropriate legal counsel when establishing information-sharing agreements.
  • Communicate changes in the school’s schedule/practices directly to child care and youth development programs to allow time to make adjustments to support families as needed.
  • Connect with licensed child care providers in your area by contacting Child Care Aware.
  • Visit School’s Out Washington’s Open Programs & School Age Childcare Map.
  • Include child care and youth development programs in family-facing communications where appropriate. For instance, if the district sends regular updates to families via email, send to providers as well. If you need a list of child care providers. please send a request to kathryn@childcareawarewa.org.
  • Encourage staff and families to sign up for WA Notify (also known as Washington Exposure Notifications), a free tool that works on smartphones to alert users if they may have been exposed to COVID-19 without sharing any personal information.
  • Direct families needing child care to the Child Care Aware of Washington Family Center website or to call 1-800-446-1114.
  • Direct families needing assistance with paying for child care to Working Connections Child Care.
  • Be open to creative ways to continue or begin sharing dedicated space with child care and youth development programs, including the use of classrooms, the gym, multipurpose room, cafeteria/kitchen, outdoor/grounds, and entry ways.

The publications on Supporting Multilingual/English Learners and Supporting Migrant Students Under Title I, Part C are intended to provide school districts with guidance and strategies for supporting these students during school reopening. The publications were published on August 20, 2020.

 Other Resources

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

In the 2020–21 school year, OSPI, through the K–12 Internet Access Program (IAP), supported more than 34,000 low-income K–12 students and their families connect to the internet from home at no cost to the family. In late spring 2021, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) implemented the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. To continue their home internet service at no cost, families must transition from the IAP to the EBB. 

For more information, please see the K–12 Internet Access Program webpage.

Support for Multilingual Families

Learn more about parents' rights to translation and interpretation services, and family access to remote or distance learning activities. In addition to technology access, multilingual families may also need navigation support with accessing child care, early learning programs, nutrition, and financial assistance, and mental health and other health services.

Resources to Support Multilingual Families—English
Arabic | Chinese | Korean | Marshallese | Russian | Somalian | Spanish | Tagalog | Ukrainian | Vietnamese

Step-by-Step Access

Get step-by-step instructions on how to use 5 different teaching platforms.

Resources to Support Student Well-Being & School Safety

Many students, educators, and their families may need additional support because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources on this page are intended to support school districts, schools, students, parents, and families in recognizing and responding to signs of emotional and behavioral distress.

Resources for Continuous Learning

In response to school closures in spring 2020 due to COVID-19, OSPI content experts 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. 

Family Engagement

This publication is a companion resource to the OSPI’s prior Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide, issued June 2020. The Family Engagement document provides guidance and strategies for building strong family, school, district, and community partnerships, and identifies resources to build and strengthen connections across these groups. You will find key questions, suggested actions, and resources for five categories of building successful Family engagement.

Videos of Superintendent Reykdal - COVID-19 Updates

Previous Guidance