At least 56,000 schools across the United States are closed or planning to close in an urgent effort to stem the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Some 29.5 million children in grades K-12 will be affected, with impacts not just on learning but also on the health and well-being of many students and families. Schools, government institutions and the community at large need to find comprehensive and creative solutions to address the critical needs of these displaced students.
Deciding whether to close schools has been agonizing for local and state officials who recognize the pivotal role that schools play. “We do not take these decisions lightly, and I am fully aware of the various impacts this has on families and communities,” said Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee, announcing the closure of schools in three counties, accounting for about half of the state’s children, for six weeks. “Today’s decision has a full range of implications from learning plans and childcare, to free and reduced-price breakfast and lunch, just to name a few.”