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Coronavirus Closings: Now What?

Posted on 03/23/2020, by Dr. Ellen Fithian to Parents of 7th and 8th Graders, Parents of 9th Graders, Parents of 10th Graders, Parents of 11th Graders, Parents of 12th Graders (0 comments)

By order of the Governor, schools in Virginia are closed until at least March 27th - and after that it's anyone's guess what will happen. Since these closures happened abruptly, many parents are uncertain how to proceed. 

What should kids be doing at home?

The first question each family needs to answer is what the expectations are for the time off. I quickly scanned the district websites for schools near me and it appears many are offering online resources for students. Check to see what's offered at your teen's high school. Next, determine whether the assignments are offered in the form of suggestions - or requirements. If work is required, how will assignments be graded, if at all?

What's happening with standardized testing?

Many students were unable to take the March 14th SAT due to cancellations by their test center. Now the May 2nd test has been unilaterally cancelled by the College Board. Similarly, the April 4th ACT has just been postponed to June 13th. Note, however, that students who were registered for the April test will not be automatically registered for the June date. Instead, they'll receive an email informing them of the change and providing instructions on how to reschedule to a future test date of their choice. 

Despite current uncertainty about future test dates, it seems likely that both tests will be offered again in time for juniors to retest before applying to college. If that assumption is correct, this might be an ideal time for students to engage in some serious test prep. Their typically frenetic schedule has suddenly been cleared of not just classes, but extracurricular and social activities as well. 
The Khan Academy offers an ideal opportunity for SAT test prep over the next few weeks. It's free, online, and customized to each student's strengths and weaknesses. An added bonus for these days of social distancing is that your teen can do it in isolation. The ACT provides free online prep as well through its ACT Academy

How do you tour colleges that are closed?

Many families of juniors had planned to spend their spring break on a grand tour of colleges. Now that many colleges have closed for the year, how can students learn more about them? 
First, look for times to reschedule visits. Some universities begin classes before high schools start, so you might be able to squeeze in a visit in the late summer - or failing that, the early fall. If you're not sure you'll be able to get to campus at all, use the Internet to gain the kind of information you might have gotten on the college tour. 

For example, go the school's website to explore the housing and dining options, as well as available activities. Another way to get an idea of what's going on at any campus is to read previous issues of the student newspaper. (To find it, just google "College X student newspaper.") I think you'll find it gives you a great insider view of what students at that school are thinking about and doing.
Second, the next best thing to being there is to take a virtual campus tour, available on many college websites. Also, check out YouVisit, a site that offers student-guided, virtual tours of over 600 schools.

Acknowledge stress, but try to project calm.

This is a stressful period for everyone, including teens, but it can also be a tremendous teachable moment. We are living through historic times that are worthy of serious contemplation and discussion. Talk to your teens about the coronavirus; the science, the public health threat, the pros and cons of various public policies, the effects of the virus on different societal groups and so on. 
Like all of you, I devoutly hope that the coronavirus closings won't last too long, but for now, try to appreciate the days of having your whole family gathered together under one roof. Those days don't last nearly long enough.

Most of all, stay safe.

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Posted on 03/23/2020, by Dr. Ellen Fithian (0 comments)




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