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NEA News

What to Think About When Your School is Closing Due to Coronavirus

As schools close, COVID-19 has left many educators and administrators nationwide operating under a rapid response system.
Published: 03/16/2020

COVID-19 has left many educators and administrators nationwide operating under a rapid response system to make sure learning continuity plans are in place for students. As of March 15, Education Week reports that “at least 64,000 schools are closed, are scheduled to close, or were closed and later reopened, affecting at least 32.5 million students.”  

While the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization offer advice and strategies on how to stay healthy and avoid community spread, below is a list of items for educators to think about in the case of a school closure: 

Schools and Coronavirus:
What You Should Know

Find general guidance on COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other health organizations, in addition to resources for navigating schools closures and online learning. NEA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of its members and the students they serve and will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.

Check out How K-12 Schools Should Prepare for Coronavirus from the Center for American Progress. It offers detailed information on issues centered on equity, technology, and services for students with disabilities and English Language Learners, and more. 

Avoid new assignments. Instead, structure assignments based on previously learned concepts. This will give students an opportunity to reinforce what has already been taught and discussed. 

While you may have been reading Shakespeare in class, send home material that will engage students. Suggest, for example, some Young Adult literature. Visit NEA’s Read Across America summer reading list to help put good books into your students’ hands.

Routines give kids a sense of security, so keep your students on a schedule, where they will follow the subjects that they would be doing at school.

Factor into the schedule brain breaks and physical activity. Students can follow an exercise program on YouTube, for example. 

Help break up the day with activities that spark creativity, such as fun crafts, painting, or journaling—anything to keep kids away from watching TV/online shows. 

Resources for Online Learning During School Closures

Technology teacher and author Jacqui Murray shares her list of the most useful articles, links, resources, and webinars to help educators (and parents) through this challenging time.

Consider using COVID-19 as a learning approach. According to Education Week’s Sarah Schwartz, a middle school math teacher had her students compare the coronavirus to other viruses that have caused past epidemics and connected it to exponential growth. Students of an Illinois high school math and science teacher asked questions about the virus and evaluated sources of scientific information, activities that fall under NGSS Science and Engineering Practices. There was also a discussion on the racism and xenophobia that's been directed toward people of Asian descent since the beginning of the outbreak.  And a library media specialist and math teacher presented a lesson on statistics are portrayed in the news, a blend of media literacy and data analysis.  

Or, you might suggest to students to reach out to extended family in other parts of the country/world to see what’s happening in their citiesWhat did they do that was different from their own families (compare and contrast)? Have them answer, “now that we’ve been through a pandemic, what can we do different in the future?” You’ll have plenty to discuss when everyone returns to the classroom  

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.