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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 as we experience this unprecedented situation together. The most current guidance and resources are provided below.

For School Districts

Guidance for school districts on school meals during the pandemic is available on OSPI’s Meals & Nutrition Guidance 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: 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.

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:

*The information linked here is specific to the Class of 2020. However, much of the information is still relevant for the current senior class this fall. Updated guidance and resources for the Class of 2021 will come at a later date.

During the school building closures this fall, school districts should continue to work with students, their families, and their communities to ensure seniors remain on track to graduate. Published last spring, Bulletin 022-20 established 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. An FAQ document covers questions and answers related to flexibility in graduation requirements for the Class of 2020, but may be partially relevant for the Class of 2021. It includes information about graduation pathways and pathways for students with disabilities.

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.

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

K–12 Internet Access Program

The K–12 Internet Access Program connects students in need to internet access at home with no cost to the student or their family. Through the program, students whose families are low-income and are not currently connected to the internet can get connected through the end of the 2020–21 school year for free.

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. 

Previous Guidance

Videos of Superintendent Reykdal