It’s official. Schools all over the United States are shutting down due to novel coronavirus. As of March 13, seven states have ordered that all schools close and many districts in other states are voluntarily closing as well. Closing schools is certainly a safe measure for controlling the spread of COVID-19, but it’s leaving lots of parents in a lurch, either because they don’t have the option to stay home from work, they don’t have childcare or they have no idea what to do with their kids at home all day every day or are intimidated by assisting them with online learning. And we can’t ignore that some parents aren’t sure how they will feed their children three meals a day without the assistance of school-sponsored free and reduced lunch. All of it is flipping overwhelming — for every single one of us.
Just last night my son’s school district sent out a notice notifying us that the kids would have a half-day today for school sanitizing and teacher training, but that they weren’t planning on shutting down schools based on “tiered plan” they had in place. Less than 24 hours later, we found out that Monday is being designated a “snow day” and that schools would close and shift to online learning starting Tuesday. Things are changing and they are changing fast. There is almost no time for many of us parents to wrap our heads around what’s happening, let alone make plans and arrangements to accommodate school closures. I’ve worked from home without full-time childcare for seven years and even I’m still overwhelmed. I do have some ideas and advice for parents who have no clue how they are going to survive school closures though.