COVID-19 Closure Tools for Parents

A Message from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) cares about the well-being of both you and your child, especially as we face the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all in this together and our first priority is to keep our families and ourselves safe by seeking out meaningful supports. We should make every effort to stay positive and patient with one another and be compassionate in the understanding that everyone–administrators, teachers, students, and families–are going through this together. Please consider the following tips and resources when working with your child’s school team.

What Families of Students with Disabilities Need to Know During the COVID-19 School Closure: Tips and Resources for Considerations

Additional Resources to Consider:

Technology Support

COVID-19 Coronavirus Information

  • The CDC’s COVID-19 Support for Parents
  • Arlington County’s COVID-19 Updates
  • Tips from KidsHealth:  Helping Children Cope with Coronavirus
  • COVID-19 Toolkit: Supporting Individuals with Autism through Uncertain Times – (Autism Focused Intervention Resources & Modules, AFIRM) (Available in English, Polish, Swedish, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Mandarin, Spanish, & Czech)
  • VCU-ACE COVID-19 and Early Childhood Playlist – includes:
    • From Our House to Yours: A Message to Families
      In this VCU-ACE video resource, Alicia Hart, VCU-ACE Training Associate and parent of a child with ASD, sends a personal message to families across the Commonwealth.
    • Social and Physical Distancing Video
    • What is a Virus?
      This VCU-ACE COVID-19 resource was designed to help explain the meaning of a virus to individuals with individuals  with ASD.
    • What Should I Do If Get Sick?
      This What Should I Do If Get Sick VCU-ACE COVID-19 resource is designed for individuals with ASD. This video explains the symptoms of COVID-19, helps individuals with ASD understand what to expect if they do get sick, and also discusses what they can do at home while getting better.
      How To: Dealing with Changes
      Individuals with ASD often thrive in a routine environment and can struggle with unexpected changes to their schedules. This How To video helps families, educators, and community members support individuals with ASD as they navigate through the multitude of changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic event. This How To video includes how to use the VCU-ACE COVID-19 Social Narrative and the VCU-ACE COVID-19 Comic Strip.
      How To: Teaching Handwashing
      This How To video is for families, educators, and community members who are teaching the steps of handwashing to individuals with ASD. This video includes strategies for those who need more support such as using a task analysis, prompting, using visual supports, and using reinforcement.How To: Handwashing for Individuals with ASD
      This How To video is for individuals with ASD to watch and learn the steps of proper handwashing. This video also includes a clip that can be used for video modeling, a powerful strategy in teaching some individuals with ASD new skills.

News from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE)

  • VDOE Partners with Spanish-language radio station to support learning for students and families…la asociación de VDOE con una estación de radio en español apoya el aprendizaje a los estudiantes y sus familias:
  • COVID-19 Learning in Place Mathematics Resources
    These resources have been compiled to assist teachers, parents, and students during this unprecedented time.
  • Digital Content Provided by Arts for Learning
    Arts for Learning has created “Take 10!” to make the arts virtually accessible to youth and families through live and recorded performances and workshops. Ten minute sessions for dance, music, and storytelling will be live streamed every Tuesday and Thursday, and the sessions can be accessed after they air. Check it out today!
  • Physical Activity, Nutrition and Movement Resources
    Check out these awesome Action for Healthy Kids resources. Learn ways to keep moving and stay healthy while learning from home.
  • CATCH Inclusive Health Video Series
    Check out some best practices for inclusion of kids with intellectual disabilities in physical activity sessions.
  • Tools for an Active Home
    Games and calendar activities are available for families to use to make their home an Active Home. These resources provide meaningful movement opportunities that progress students toward physical education and social and emotional learning outcomes.
  • VA TV Classroom
    Superintendent of Public Instruction James Lane announced that four Virginia public media stations will broadcast teacher-led classroom instruction aligned with the Commonwealth’s academic standards. Blue Ridge PBS, VPM, WETA and WHRO Public Media worked closely with the VDOE to create “VA TV Classroom” to provide instruction to students in grades K-10 who are unable to access other distance learning options. Check out “VA TV Classroom” today!
  • Project HOPE – Virginia at The William and Mary School of Education has put together a resource guide for families who may find themselves in crisis as a result of COVID-19.  Click here for Resources for Families in Crisis.
  • Keeping your Distance to Stay SafeIt can be difficult to feel connected to others while social distancing.  The American Psychological Association has created a guide to help us cope while keeping our families and ourselves safe. Click here for a guide to Keeping your Distance to Stay Safe.

Basic Needs

  • #InThisTogether: A one page document listing resources to meet basic needs (food, rent, etc.) as well as mental health resources. Families needing additional support are encouraged to contact their school social worker.
  • Assistance from a Distance: Arlington County’s Department of Human Services is now offering Assistance from a Distance. This site provides information on Aging and Disability Services, Behavioral Healthcare, Child and Family Services, Economic Independence and Public Health. 
  • Comcast is now providing free “Internet Essentials” service to low-income families for 60-days. Sign-up is available online here:
  • General Support:  2-1-1 Virginia is a free service that can help you find the resources you need. Dial 2-1-1

Disability/Advocacy Resources

Autism Resources

  • Autism Society COVID-19 Toolkit: Includes resources for mental health and respite; modifying routines; lifestyle support; and more.
  • Autism Parenting 101: Play
    This VCU-ACE video resource provides families with information about the role families have in helping young children with ASD play, strategies to support play, and tips for success.
  • Autism Parenting 101: Communication
    This VCU-ACE video resource provides families with information about their role in supporting communication, discusses strategies to encourage communication, and tips for success.
  • Explain It! Routines and Schedules
    This VCU-ACE video resource helps families raising young children with ASD understand the importance of routines and schedules in a child’s life.
  • From Breakfast to Bedtime: What Children Learn Through Routines
    This VCU-ACE video resource helps families understand just how much young children are learning throughout everyday daily routines.
  • Use What Works: Teaching Routines
    This VCU-ACE video resource provides families a basic explanation of evidence-based practices such as task analysis, visual supports, prompting, and reinforcement as they teach their child new routines.
  • Let’s Make a Schedule!
    This VCU-ACE video resource demonstrates how to make a variety of schedules using what families have in the home.
  • A Day in the Life: Maintaining Routines and Schedules in Difficult Times
    This VCU-ACE video resource helps families who are struggling through personal challenges or community-based emergencies and dealing with sudden and drastic changes to their typical routines and schedules.

Mental Wellness Resources

    • Turn down the noise – Give yourself a daily break from COVID-19 media coverage so you can decompress and process what is happening. Limit children’s exposure to news so that you choose what to share with them in a developmentally appropriate way.
    • Connect with friends and family – Maintaining our social relationships helps us focus on what is truly important and reminds us that we are not alone. Call a friend, or virtually connect with friends or family as a group.
    • Maintain a flexible routine – Having a routine is more important now than ever, since knowing what to expect provides a sense of normalcy and lessens anxiety; however, be flexible, as unexpected changes will likely arise. For children, writing the schedule down and showing schedule changes visually is a good way to provide structure and predictability.
    • Tend to your physical needs daily – Getting your body moving is a great way to keep your mind busy and relieve tension, so be sure to build this into your routine. Whether you run, hike, ride a bike, work-out at a gym, do yoga, explore nature or join virtual exercise classes, there are options for adults and kids during social distancing.
    • Offer yourself a little grace – Give yourself the gift of knowing that you are not perfect but you are trying your best. If you feel nervous or tense, try relaxation strategies like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualization. Drawing, journaling, and listening to music are great stress-relieving options for kids.

Working and Learning from Home

Fun and Recreation

  • Have you discovered Arlington’s Parks and Recreation Recreate at Home page? It’s filled with some great ideas for how to keep adults and children engaged. Take a look to learn about DIY Bird Feeders, Color Me Census, Lazer Grids, Scavenger Hunts, Art with the amazing Mr. Jim, Body Weight Fitness, Cook Like a Pro, How to Make Binoculars, and more! Also, our fantastic friends in Therapeutic Recreation are offering new sensory activities to help promote calmness every weekday at 1pm! Details are below.
  • Sensory Activities Help Keep You Calm
    Sensory-stimulating activities can help calm the body and mind as well as aid in self-regulation. Visit the Therapeutic Recreation Facebook page for new fun projects every week day at 1 p.m. Activities have been selected that use typical items found around the house, but not food.