California State PTA is committed to giving you the most up-to-date information about coronavirus. Please scroll to the relevant section below to find information about:
- Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- School closures
- Convention 2020 update
- PTA state office update
- 2020 Census update
If you are a PTA leader looking for information about how to handle meetings, elections and financial transactions during the coronavirus outbreak, visit our Resources for Leaders page.
If you are looking for distance-learning resources and ideas, visit our Resources for Parents and Families page.
If you are looking for legislation enacted to help those affected by coronavirus, please visit our Enacted Legislation page.
National PTA has thoughtfully provided answers to questions shared by families and communities navigating the pandemic, we which have gathered in this section.
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How do I talk to my child about Coronavirus?
Children, as well as adults, are likely to experience anxiety in this uncertain time. Several resources have been created by leading mental health experts on how to have age-appropriate, fact-based and reassuring conversations with you children about the outbreak and the steps they can take to stay healthy.
- How to Talk to Your Child about the Coronavirus, Kids Health
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource, National Association of School Psychologists
- Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), National Child Traumatic Stress Network
Where can I go for information on Coronavirus and its impact on education and children?
There are several resources available for parents about the Coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has resources to assist education leaders in protecting student privacy and ensuring students with disabilities continue to receive services required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during school closures due to the outbreak.
The ED also released important information for K-12 educators on flexibilities the Department could grant when it comes to the accountability standards required by law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). We particularly recommend reviewing COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional guidance and further resources, including:
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage
- Guidance for School Settings
- Checklist for Teachers and Parents
- Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs
Colorín Colorado is a good resource for English Language Learners and their families, as well as educators. We particularly want to call attention to their Multilingual Coronavirus Resources for Schools.
What if I do not have internet access in my home? What is being done to support equitable access to the internet for student learning?
Several internet providers have announced that they will make their services available for free for households with K-12 and/or college students who don’t already have internet through the company. Further installation fees may also be waived for new student households. Please contact your local internet provider for additional information.
California State PTA’s partner, the California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), can also connect families with low-cost or free internet access. Click here to learn more, or click here to watch a recording of the recent webinar that CETF and CAPTA held about how leaders can support those in their schools and communities who need access to low-cost and free internet and computers. To read the presentation from the webinar, click here.
National PTA has joined several other education groups in calling for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to temporarily allow schools to utilize E-Rate program funding to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or devices with Wi-Fi capability to students who lack internet access at home. This action would help ensure that all students can remotely continue their education during the current public health emergency.
The coronavirus pandemic is shining a bright light on the so-called “homework gap” experienced by 12 million students in this country. The gap refers to those students who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework—at a time when over 70% of educators assign schoolwork that requires the internet.
As a parent, how can I support learning at home?
Recognizing that not all families or children will have the resources to access and leverage digital learning opportunities, PTAs should work with their local school and district to understand what plans are in place or are being developed to equitably support student learning during school closures. PTAs can (and should!) work with schools to help develop student learning plans during school closures and help communicate these plans to families.
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), has developed 10 Strategies for Online Learning During Coronavirus Outbreak. The Today Show has curated some free educational activities that students and families can engage in here. (To see distance-learning resources compiled by California State PTA, click here.)
What is being done to ensure vulnerable youth have access to school meals?
Nearly 22 million students depend on subsidized breakfasts and lunches served at schools. All Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs—including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs—have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency situation. You can view the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Response to COVID-19 here.
PTAs should connect with their local schools and district to learn about the plans for meal distribution and how best to support and promote those efforts. Members of Congress have introduced bipartisan legislation, COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act to protect students’ access to school meal benefits during school closures related to COVID-19.
What legislative action is Congress taking regarding Coronavirus?
Legislation is currently pending in Congress. Specifically, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.
Additionally, members of Congress have introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6275) which will provide needed resources to early childhood programs, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. The legislation will provide $3 billion dollars in grants to provide support services to students, including mental health and technology and funding to clean school facilities.
You can write to your elected officials about these and other bills using National PTA’s Take Action Network.
What if I have concerns about end-of-year state testing?
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance on assessments and accountability. The Department of Education generally does not grant statewide waivers of assessment requirements under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.
However, due to the unique circumstances that may arise as a result of COVID-19, such as a school closing during the entire testing window, it may not be feasible for a state to administer some or all of its assessments, in which case the Department would consider a targeted one-year waiver of the assessment requirements for those schools impacted by the extraordinary circumstances.
States with schools that must close due to COVID-19 may also want to consider whether it is possible to adjust or extend the testing window to accommodate as many students as possible, including students in schools that were closed for some period. Please contact your state PTA and/or our SEA with questions about testing in your state.
To see additional COVID-19 resources from National PTA, click here.
California State PTA encourages families to work closely with school and school district officials to learn about local school closures, and find out what types of preventative measures are being implemented in their area.
We have also teamed up with school officials, partners associations and government agencies to provide the following valuable resources to help parents stay informed:
- School guidance on coronavirus from the California Department of Public Health (PDF)
- Coronavirus resources for schools from the Association of California School Administrators
- Timely information pertaining to schools from the California Department of Education
- USDA program to continue school meal service while schools are temporarily closed due to coronavirus
- The CDE has a Meals for Kids mobile phone app that helps you find school meal services near you. Click on the “Emergency Meal Sites” section for information on where to get meals if your school is closed during the coronavirus outbreak.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a new food assistance program for children throughout the state who are living in households struggling with food insecurity. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program provides electronic food benefits to families equal to the value of meals that children eligible for free or reduced-priced meals would have received at school. For more information about P-EBT, visit the CDSS P-EBT informational web page.
CONVENTION 2020 UPDATE
California State PTA’s 2020 Convention in Riverside has been cancelled due to concerns about coronavirus. Please visit the convention page for a message from Celia Jaffe.
STATE OFFICE UPDATE
As of March 18, 2020 the California State PTA office in Sacramento has implemented a Remote Work from Home Plan for staff. We do not have a definite return date yet. A future time will be determined based on direction from federal, state and local officials.
At this time, we are not anticipating any significant impact to the association, and expect to provide our volunteers and members with the same level of attention and service as always.
Staff will continue to be reachable on their capta.org email addresses, and messages left on their office voicemail will continue to be responded to in a timely manner.
2020 CENSUS UPDATE
The U.S. Census has had to adjust the timing of some of its activities due to coronavirus:
- The window for households to respond to questionnaire notices that have been mailed to them has been extended to August 14, 2020
- The start date for census-takers to begin door-to-door operations has been delayed until March 29, 2020
- Mobile (public, community-based) questionnaire assistance centers will not open until April 13, 2020
For further information about how coronavirus has affected the Census, click here.
We encourage all our member to complete the Census if at all possible, as your responses affect the allocation of services and funds that affect all of California’s families and children. It can be done online, over the phone or by mail from the safety of your home — no physical interaction with others that might put you at risk for coronavirus is required.