I decided it was time to get people thinking about school closures. We have already seen that China, France, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, South Korea and it’s likely that other countries have also closed schools, affecting some 300 million children so far. That has now happened in Seattle as well.
This is going to happen in many other locations, including across many school districts throughout the US. If you have children and haven’t planned for this contingency, it’s time to start figuring out how you will manage this if you have children that are young enough that they need supervision at home.
Back when I was doing a lot of speaking on pandemic planning, one of the suggestions I had made was to find high school or college age kids who were also out of school to provide that care. It is obviously better that you have some in mind that you already know and trust. I had also suggested that one incentive might be to provide high school and college kids some kind of academic credit for community service for an event like this if it stretches into weeks. It’s probably a bit late to do that kind of planning though, since it would require some kind of documentation. Still, they will have a lot of idle time on their hands and this could provide them with a source of income and something to keep them busy.
That also brings up another important point. It doesn’t do any good to close schools if children are going to congregate anyway. That could be even harder to enforce with teenagers. It would make sense to provide some kind of incentive to keep them at home unless they have work activities.
Of course school closures have large impacts on other areas besides child care. There is a good discussion of this from the Center for Global Development.
Lastly, there is guidance from the CDC related to school closures.
I urge you to share this with anyone you know who has children either in childcare or already in the school system. Closures could be affecting them soon.