Talking to your children about school closures

Tips for talking to kids about school closures and COVID-19

A young student talks to an adult.

Have you talked to your kids about school closures related to COVID-19?

Kids may have been talking about COVID-19 for days or even weeks, and now their lives are being upended by the virus as schools across Washington close for six weeks. Let them know it’s natural and OK to be worried. Remind them that many kids who have gotten COVID-19 have recovered well from the virus.

How to talk to your kids about COVID-19 and school closures

Be honest with them. When accurate information isn’t available, children often think of the worst-case scenario. Don’t ignore their concerns, but explain that very few people have COVID-19. Let them know that schools are closed to slow the spread of the virus across the state, not necessarily because there are cases in their school.

Monitor television viewing and social media. Limit screen time as much as possible, and avoid watching or listening to information that might be upsetting with your kids around. Remind them that many stories about COVID-19 online are based on rumors and inaccurate information.

Make yourself available. Kids may need extra time with you to process their concerns, feelings, and questions. Make sure they know that you’re there to listen to them, and provide them with plenty of love and affection.

Remain calm and assuring. Kids pick up on your verbal and nonverbal reactions, so make sure you’re in control of those. Help reframe your kids’ concerns into the appropriate perspective.

Other ways to help kids manage their stress

Practice proper health and hygiene. Encourage proper health and hygiene with your kids by doing things like creating drawings to remember family routines or teaching them to wash hands for the correct amount of time by singing a song.

Keep a consistent schedule. Consistent bedtimes, meals, and exercise will help your family feel a sense of calm among change.

If available, encourage students to access distance learning options. School districts are allowed to provide distance learning if they can provide it equitably to all students. Check with your school district for more information.

Have fun! Do things that make your family feel better in times of stress, such as watching movies, reading, or playing games.

Keep yourself and your family safe

Keep yourself and your family safe by staying home when you’re sick, covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, washing your hands often with soap and water, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.

Keep yourself informed

Your child’s school district should be providing regular communication with families. This includes calls, emails, text messages, and other methods that they already use to communicate. If you’re not hearing from your district during a closure, get in touch with your school principal or district superintendent.

Stay informed with COVID-19 updates from the Department of Health, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and your local health department.

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The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.