COVID-19 Coronavirus Resources
With no vaccine or widespread testing and containment, what the 2020-2021 school year will look like is an open question.
We continue to update this page every 7 to 10 days as things go forward. The latest posts are at the top of the page.
If you know of a resource we should add, please let us know.
Check the Related Topics box at the end of this page for more resources.
This post by Amy Takabori explains why building a sense of community for your school during a school closure is important and gives 4 tips on how to do it.
A strong sense of community can mitigate loneliness that is likely to arise when students are consigned to quarantined home learning.
This free article from the Washington Post looks at disease modeling and why the models vary so widely. It takes you thru a disease modeling simulation showing how seemingly small changes in a model's assumptions or inputs can cause a large variation in the results.
Makes a good real-world example for math and statistics, showing both their value and limitations. Have students explore what the underlying math looks like. Can they describe the equations or the process?
This can also be a springboard for further student inquiry: What data would you need to make better models? How do you balance competing goals? Is it possible to optimize for both? What would "optimized" look like?
This post by Krista Kaput looks at issues specific to Minnesota, but is a reminder that the COVID-19 crisis has caused ripple effects across the education system, raising significant questions and challenges for the teacher licensure process. With school buildings closed, student teaching and assessments for new teachers were interrupted. And many current teachers are facing uncertainty around Professional Development (PD) requirements and whether they will be able to renew their licenses on time.
Check your state's Department of Education web site for current news on waivers and requirement modifications.
This post from NPR is another look at the current challenges facing schools as they try to reopen. Even in states where school reopening has been OK'ed, few schools have actually re-opened. A few districts have chosen to end the school year early, putting an end to their efforts with remote learning.
The American Federation of Teachers and the American Enterprise Institute have each put out detailed blueprints for reopening. These two plans have a lot in common as far as basic medical recommendations:
- The need for rapid and repeated coronavirus testing of students and staff,
- Contact tracing,
- Stepped-up hygiene and cleaning, and
- Reducing class sizes to allow for social distancing.
The article also talks about four tough problems that are on experts' minds:
- Running remote and in-person learning in parallel
- Serving the neediest and traumatized kids
- Privacy – how much data should be shared
- Transportation and maintaining 6' separation
Use the current outbreak as a learning opportunity. Check out these activities and videos from The Exploratorium.
Questions covered include what are viruses, how does soap inactivate coronaviruses, how big is a virus and how does it compare to other small things, can you believe it (how to evaluate claims), and how do virus tests work?
This article by Sarah Gonser highlights some issues that we will all face as states start to prepare contingency plans for a highly unpredictable Fall 2020 school year:
- Will schools even be able to open
- Extending online learning
- Staggered start times and continued social distancing
- Medical interventions and surveillance
- Prepare for learning loss
Back on Feb. 26, 2020, we started this page to help teachers and administrators get a handle on the coming COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, we looked at questions like if we might have to close some schools.
Seven (7) weeks later (mid-April), 90% of schools world wide were shut down.
While the focus right now is on getting thru the current school year, there's the looming question of what the 2020-2021 school year will look like.
Will schools be able to reopen this fall? If so, what will school look like?
Here's some interim guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health on what schools may need to do to reopen. Some of the items to consider:
- Stagger student arrival and dismissal times.
- Institute and emphasize the importance of daily health checks for all staff and students.
- Rearrange student desks and common seating spaces to maximize the space around each student (6 foot minimum).
- Arrange classrooms to allow teachers to practice social distancing.
- Bring in specialist teachers (e.g., music, art, physical education) to individual classrooms versus rotating all kids through a shared space.
- Avoid community supplies when possible.
- Cancel field trips, assemblies, and other large gatherings.
- Playgrounds and cafeterias present special challenges.
- Provide reminders about the importance of not sharing food or drinks.
This is all going to be challenging, to say the least.
The current stay-at-home environment is challenging for learning on a number of fronts. This article talks about how school districts in Colorado are trying to overcome the disparities when not everyone has reliable WiFi or access to a computer.
At the end of March, 2020, 185 countries had closed their schools, affecting 90 percent of the world's students. The speed of these closures and the rapid move to distance learning, according to the Brookings Institute, has allowed little time for planning or reflection on both the potential risks to safeguard against and the potential opportunities to leverage.
In this post they identify some of the risks and opportunities, including:
- Educators will be overwhelmed and unsupported to do their jobs well.
- School closures will widen the equity gaps.
- Poor experiences with ed-tech during the pandemic will make it harder to get buy-in later for good use of ed-tech.
- Teachers and schools will receive more respect, appreciation, and support for their important role in society.
- Teacher collaboration will grow and help improve learning.
- This crisis will help us come together across boundaries.
To say things are "up in the air" regarding fall college admissions is an understatement. This article from NPR outlines some of the current issues for H.S. seniors looking to go to college this fall.
Some of the issues include extended admissions calendars, SAT & AP testing issues, and last minute adjustments to financial aid packages.
Students and counselors are encouraged to monitor things closely as deadlines, requirements and resources will change going forward.
With schools turning to the Internet to facilitate education activities, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are stepping up to the plate, providing free Internet hotspots and continued service during financial hardships.
Check with your local ISPs to see what services they are providing during this outbreak. Your cell phone providers may also be a source of hotspot devices for disadvantaged students.
Billions of people around the world are stuck at home due to coronavirus lockdowns. How do you, your students and fellow staff members cope when your places of work, worship and relaxation are off-limits? Normal routines have been disrupted, and regular activities are no longer available.
Sean Fleming at the World Economic Forum talked with three astronauts and a submariner who shared advice on how to cope with isolation.
The tips include: keep to a routine, fill time constructively, stay connected, and avoid misleading information.
You've probably seen xkcd comics before – Randall Munroe has a very different outlook on life.
In this installment he looks at the current COVID-19 battle from the virus' point of view. We won't give things away, but now we know why all the pasta was all gone. :-)
Here's a great animated graphic showing how staying home can help break the paths of transmission. You're not only helping yourself, but everyone in your community.
This post is part of Reddit.com's lively community on the Coronavirus outbreak. This moderated group includes both news and personal perspectives.
How To See Germs Spread
Mark Rober, a former NASA engineer and current "YouTuber and friend of science", put together this video showing how easy it is to spread germs, including the COVID-19 virus, using a bunch of third graders.
Using Glo Germ powder (see the video and YouTube link for more details) , Mark shows how easy it is for one or two people to spread germs to an entire classroom. Even just shaking hands can pass the virus from one person to the next to the next to the next .... (you get the idea). He shows why sheltering at home and maintaining your distance are such a good ideas.
Mark also has some positive things to say about the COVID-19 pandemic. Worth watching and passing along.
- YouTube URL
With everything that's happening about the Coronavirus, it can be very hard to make a decision of what to do today. Should you wait for more information? Do something today? What?
In this article, Tomas Pueyo looks at the following questions and describes what's coming with charts, data and models with plenty of sources:
- How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?
- What will happen when these cases materialize?
- What should you do?
His assessment is sobering, but it gives clear guidance about where we're headed and how bad it's likely to be.
This is the data that's causing authorities to act "Now".
How long are we going to have to keep this up? How long will schools stay closed? It's an especially hard question for science to answer.
The best and most honest reply, according to epidemiologists and virologists, is simply: "It depends." It's not going to be over anytime soon – a matter of months rather than weeks. And these are the key factors that will determine just how many months:
- It depends on when U.S. cases finally reach their peak.
- Even after the peak, we may need drastic actions to keep the virus at bay.
- It depends on still unknown characteristics of the virus.
- Much also depends on how much we're willing to do, for how long.
This tutorial from The Washington Post uses animations and graphs to explain the math behind the current drive for social distancing to slow down community transmission. The simulation looks at four options, from no restrictions at all to a forced quarantine (think Hubei province in China) and with two different buy-ins of social distancing (75% and 87.5%).
The simulations are generated randomly each time you visit this page, which makes this a good exercise for students. They can see how the sames rules will produce different outcomes, not because of a flaw in the rules, but just because of the randomness of life.
This quick video from ABC News (posted March 10th) explains why officials are banning crowds, closing schools, and encouraging anything to avoid a lot of human contact. It's called "flatten the curve".
At this point, it appears that a majority of the population will contract the virus. By slowing down the rate of new cases, we can flatten the infection bell curve, preventing the heath care system from being overwhelmed. A certain percentage of all new infections are going to require intense medical care. By reducing the total number of cases at any one time, we better ensure that we'll have the capacity to care for serious cases.
Yes, flattening the curve means we will have to deal with this virus for a longer time. But it helps ensure that everyone who needs serious medical intervention will be able to get it.
Another good resource for guidance is your state's Department of Public Health.
The exemplar here is the COVID-19 guidance information for California. The link Guidance for schools (PDF) is updated regularly and can make a great checklist to confirm your school is doing everything it needs to do.
The topics in this guidance cover the following Scenarios:
- Measures you should already have underway to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Measures to be taken if there are two or more community transmission cases of COVID-19, but no individuals within the school test positive.
- Measures to be taken if one student, teacher or staff member tests positive for COVID-19 and exposed others at the school.
- Measures to be taken if multiple schools within a school district have a student, teacher or staff member test positive for COVID-19.
Check with your city, county, and state or province Department of Public Health to see what guidance they are offering.
The good news is that young people do not seem to be affected as much by this virus as older people. However, preventing or slowing down community spread helps everyone; lessening the strain on health services and lowering the total number of people infected.
The CDC has published interim guidance is intended to help administrators prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff at both the school/facility and district level. The guidance is split into 2 sections: Guidance for schools which do not have COVID-19 identified in their community and Guidance for schools with identified cases of COVID-19 in their community.
It is worth going thru the items in the second section and making sure your school's plan addresses the issues listed.
Having a school or district plan is no longer optional.
Check your state's Department of Education web site
Check with your state's Department of Education web site for information, guidelines and resources for dealing with Covid-19.
Many departments now have links on their home page to Covid-19 resources. If your state does not yet have a resource link, check the web sites for neighboring states. Washington state, California and Florida are exemplars.
Watch out for discrimination
"We have this tendency to confuse people who are sick with entire groups of people, and that's what makes it discriminatory. When you single out entire groups of people, that becomes prejudice." – Gilbert Gee, professor at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health
Greenville County Schools in Greenville, SC is a good example of what your school and school district can do now – prepare and communicate.
Explain what's going on, allay fears, explain what you're currently doing and what your plans are. Acknowledge that schools might close and what will happen at that point.
One thing they emphasize is creating communications plans now with other organizations, governmental agencies and the school community (teachers, staff, students, and parents). Events can unfold quickly. Setting up a comprehensive communication plan now will save a lot of frustration and confusion later.
The CDC is telling parents, "You should think about what you would do for child care if schools or day cares closed." For low-income and housing insecure students, a prolonged school closing can be especially harmful.
While schools cannot do everything, even just raising the issue with other government agencies and community service organizations may identify options for students with nutrition assistance and emergency housing needs during a closure. Look at encouraging parents, if they are comfortable, to reach out to their neighbors during a closure. Small steps are better than no steps at all.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set up this page to provide information, recommendations, and up-to-the minute news on the coronavirus outbreak.
This resource includes current information on how it spreads, symptoms, a situation summary updated daily, and information for groups including schools, heath departments and businesses.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has an information portal of their own with the latest information on the COVID-19 coronavirus, updated daily.
Of particular interest will be the Technical Guidance section.
Some people comparing this event to the 1918 Flu Pandemic. The CDC has a great resource documenting the 1918 pandemic and other pandemics over the years including ones in 2009, 1968, and 1957-8.
It helps to put things in perspective. Make sure to check out the Pandemic Basics link.
The authors of this article did computer modeling to look at the results of various school closure strategies.
Their results indicated that the particular school closure strategy to be adopted depends both on the disease severity, which will determine the duration of school closure deemed acceptable, and its transmissibility. For epidemics with a low transmissibility (R0 < 2.0) and/or mild severity, individual school closures should begin once a daily community case count is exceeded. For a severe, highly transmissible epidemic (R0 >= 2.0), long duration school closure should begin as soon as possible and be combined with other interventions.
The article goes looks at the options in depth and is worth reviewing if you are an administrator trying to decide what to do.
Here is another study looking at the likely impact of coordinated pre-emptive school dismissal policies during an influenza pandemic. Some of the highlights were
- School dismissals are particularly effective in delaying the epidemic peak.
- Dismissals at the city or county level yield the greatest reduction in disease incidence for all but the most severe pandemic scenarios.
- Broader (multi-county) dismissals should be considered for the most severe and fast-spreading (1918-like) pandemics, in which multi-month closures may be necessary to delay the epidemic peak sufficiently to allow for vaccines to be implemented.
When a new disease emerges, health organizations turn to a seemingly simple number to gauge whether the outbreak will spread. It's called the basic reproduction number—R0, pronounced R-nought—and though useful for decision makers, it's a nightmare for public communication.
In brief, R0 is the average number of people who will catch the disease from a single infected person, in a population that's never seen the disease before. If R0 is 3, then on average every case will create three new cases. R0 is important because if it's greater than 1, the infection will probably keep spreading, and if it's less than 1, the outbreak will likely peter out.
But even though it seems incredibly straightforward, it's hard to calculate, and tricky to interpret what that means for the course of the desease.