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See OSPI’s COVID-19 guidance and resources for educators, students, and families.

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

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources

School Closures

On March 13, Governor Inslee ordered statewide public and privates school closures. Effective dates are Tuesday, March 17 through Friday, April 24, subject to extension.

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.

As schools, students, families, and communities plan for and experience closures, OSPI is committed to providing ongoing guidance and resources as we sort through this unprecedented situation together. The most current guidance and resources are provided below.

Other sources of information educators and families should monitor are the:

For School Districts

Although schools are closed and are not providing traditional in-person instruction, education must continue. Bulletin 024-20 provides school districts with a framework for continuing instruction and learning during school closures. The sample plan provided in the bulletin is also available in Word format for districts to use. Further guidance will be grounded in compassion, communication, and common sense; rather than the traditional compliance measures we are all familiar with in our education community. Our schools are the backbone of our democracy and the structures, routines, and ongoing learning opportunities will create calm connections our families need at this critical time in our state.

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 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.

If they haven’t already begun, districts should be building their capacity to provide equitable services during school closures. Districts and communities are in varying states of readiness to provide continuity of learning, and this guidance is intended to be used as a starting point as planning begins. We should avoid assuming that continuity of education outside of a typical school building can only occur through online means. Districts will provide instruction using printed learning materials, phone contact, email, technology-based virtual instruction, or a combination to meet student needs.

While most Washington school districts have already begun engaging students and families in learning, OSPI expects educational services for all students will begin by Monday, March 30.

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

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

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.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19 and the unprecedented action to close schools for a significant period, OSPI is providing guidance to districts, schools, and local associations about teacher and principal evaluation for the 2019–20 school year. This guidance is provided today with the assumption that school will resume on April 27. Should that not be the case, OSPI will provide updated guidance. 

Guiding Principles

District, school, and association leaders are encouraged to use good judgment regarding evaluation and keep in perspective where this sits within the priorities of the current reality and the future horizon. In addition, given that both teachers and principals are concerned about their students, staff, family, and personal well-being, it is important to honor work that has already been done by the evaluatee and the evaluator to provide and/or substantiate evidence. It is also important to recognize that the evaluation period has ended before its normal completion, and that the absence of evidence for a particular indicator, component, or student growth component should not be cause for lowering a score.

While the chart below, as well as the information included in state law (Revised Code of Washington [RCW] 28A.405.100), should cover most situations, we cannot know all possible scenarios. Educators are encouraged to reach out to OSPI with specific questions.

Classroom Teacher and Principal Evaluation Guidance

Item

Anticipated Scenario

Recommended Action

1

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

2

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

 

3

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 extenuating circumstances

4

Evaluatees not on probation who do not return to school April 27 (e.g., quarantined, ill, etc.)

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

5

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

6

Evaluatees on probation or plan of improvement

Handled locally on a case-by-case basis

7

Evaluatees on Focused Evaluation

Retain score for final summative evaluation

Many students rely on school meals to meet their nutritional needs. Additionally, 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.
Each district and school have a unique set of circumstances and resources. OSPI is individually assisting districts and schools to determine how to best meet community needs. Guidance for school districts is available on OSPI’s Meals & Nutrition Guidance webpage.

State Apportionment

OSPI is committed to providing ongoing apportionment payments to school districts during the closure. OSPI will file an emergency rule to allow districts to claim students with more than 20 days of consecutive absences due to COVID-19.

Count Days

  • The monthly count day is the first school day of the month.
  • If districts reopen sometime in April, the count day would be the first day back. Normal count days will fall on the first school day of the month from that point forward.
  • If school district operations do not resume in April 2020 or at a later point during the 2019–20 school year, OSPI will use February 2020 enrollment and apply an adjustment rate. For the apportionment payment process, OSPI will use the most recent count date available.

Adjustment Rate

The adjustment rate refers to the historical trend of enrollment changes in the last few months of the school year. We will use district level enrollment by grade from school year 2018–19 to determine the “adjustment rate” per month.

Paying Federally Funded Staff During the Closure

If districts are using state or local funds to pay their state and locally funded staff during the closure, they may continue to use federal funds to pay the salaries of their federally funded staff. Future guidance will include additional information on this.

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.

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 providing instruction through online learning models (so long as those can be provided equitably) or from using their facilities to provide childcare, professional development, staff meetings, Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, direct services to individual students, or other activities deemed appropriate by the district administration. Any gatherings within school facilities should comply with applicable social distancing directives and health and safety recommendations. We will share future guidance from health officials.

Districts are expected to make every effort possible to make-up any days and instructional hours lost due to the COVID-19 outbreak, including extending the school year to June 19 if necessary. OSPI will file an emergency rule to allow the agency to waive the days and instructional hours that districts won’t be able to make up after June 19. This rule will be in effect for the 2019–20 school year only. Districts should wait until they know the extent of their closures before submitting an application for a waiver. OSPI will provide more information about the submittal process within the next two months.

Collaboration and Communication

It is important for school staff, district staff, and education associations to work together to maintain proactive and ongoing relationships. Keep communication lines open and strive to provide consistent messaging to your communities. Many of the issues and questions you will face together are subject to local collective bargaining. Labor and management must work together to build supports for all students. This will require flexibility and may necessitate paid staff to perform different duties than they are normally assigned. Districts have a variety of expertise and talented staff. Together, consider who is best positioned to deliver work that is now needed.

Teacher and Principal Evaluations

OSPI recognizes that many evaluation cycles are not complete, and the closures may disrupt typical processes and timelines. OSPI will provide guidance on teacher and principal evaluation in upcoming bulletins.

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 outbreak, 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. 

COVID-19 in Schools: A Parent Guide

The resources in this guide are intended to help parents, guardians, and families understand the school's role during a closure, commitments to students, and what making days up at the end of the school year looks like. Please note, this guide is subject to change as this situation evolves.

School Closures

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.

Previous Guidance