(from multiple sources) Schools in western Washington state and Oregon are scrambling this week to temporarily close and sanitize classrooms following the confirmation of additional cases of COVID-19 (caused by the new coronavirus), including one at a public high school, and at least six deaths linked to the disease in Washington. On Wednesday, the entire district of the Seattle suburb Northshore, which serves 23,000 students, announced it would move to online learning for at least two weeks. Private schools around the country have also closed temporarily to take precautionary measures, including deep cleaning, after students, staff members and parents have been diagnosed with the disease or come into close contact with someone diagnosed.
Health experts are advising caution for school officials who must balance making safety and cleanliness a top priority at schools while being mindful not to make unnecessary closings at a time when COVID-19 is not considered a risk to the larger U.S. student population. Schools should review and update their emergency plans, emphasize hand-washing, communicate with local health departments and review attendance policies, said the CDC.Now is also the time to prepare a contingency learning plan, officials said. Schools abroad have been grappling with school closures for weeks. Every school in China has been shuttered since the country’s January break, and more recently Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Vietnam have closed schools. Moving classrooms to the cloud has become a massive experiment in distance learning. While international independent schools are usually well-resourced in terms of technology, there have been no shortage of challenges in moving online. From managing workloads and screen time, to keeping a pulse on emotional health, here are some of their biggest pain points.
For guidance on school closures, attendance policies, and remote learning, see recommendations from NAIS.
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