Resources for Parents, Workers, and Businesses Impacted by COVID-19, from Representatives Dolan and Doglio
From Representatives Laurie Dolan and Beth Doglio, March 18, 2020
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
The growing and constantly evolving COVID-19 outbreak in our nation and community is creating significant concern and anxiety among families, workers and employers. It is affecting all our daily lives, and we hope you’re taking precautions to protect yourselves and those around you.
But our community is strong.
The future feels uncertain, but we will get through this by supporting each other and following the guidance of public health officials and directives from the Governor. These recommendations and orders are changing rapidly, and we want to make sure you have updated information.
In this update you’ll find a wide range of resources and information to keep you and your family informed.
Additionally, House Democrats have created a new website where you can find COVID-19 resources.
Thank you, and stay safe,
Support for parents and students during school closures
Schools are the cornerstones of our community. Last week, Governor Jay Inslee and Superintendent of Public Instruction Chris Reykdal directed all schools statewide to close until April 27 at the earliest. We know that school closures will have a serious impact on Washington’s families. Here are some resources for families affected by this disruption.
OSPI will continue to be your best resource for updated information. Check their website or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.
Parents of students who receive free or reduced-price school meals should contact their school district about meal distribution.
- School closure FAQ.
- Tips for talking to your children about school closures.
- Questions and answers from the US Department of Education about providing services to children with disabilities.
- Financial education resources from Financial Education Public Private Partnership (great resources for older students).
- Printable social studies lessons and activities for students from the Pulitzer Center.
- Free virtual museum tours from London to Seoul.
- Women’s History Month lessons and conversation kits for students of all ages.
- Online Physical Education Network’s tools for creating an active home.
- List of online mathematics resources for remote learning.
- World language learning from PBS and Georgia Virtual Learning.
- Seattle Times article on child care and at-home learning during coronavirus closures
There are plenty of ways to continue to access safe and healthy food, and extra help is available for families that need support getting food on the table.
Grocery stores, gas stations and convenience stores remain open. As the governor stated on Monday, there is no need to stockpile. Our supply chain remains strong. Practice social distancing and use good hygiene when making essential trips for groceries.
Order takeout and delivery while practicing social distancing. Again, the governor has closed restaurants for the next two weeks to increase social distancing, not because food is the risk. You can still support small businesses by ordering takeout and delivery. Make sure to maintain good social distancing and hygiene while doing so.
Assistance with buying food. If the COVID-19 crisis is creating extra strain on your household budget, you can apply for assistance through various state programs at https://www.washingtonconnection.org/home/.
Free school meals in some school districts. School districts are stepping up to continue to provide free school breakfasts and lunches. Check with your local school district to see if they are providing free meals for kids.
Food banks remain open. Food banks continue to provide assistance to families and are instituting increased social distancing and hygiene practices. For any questions about hours or practices, please contact your local food bank directly. If you are healthy and able to give time, consider volunteering.
Cooking at home. For those cooking at home, handle food with the same care that you usually would. Wash your hands. Only handle food when healthy. People who are coughing, feverish, short of breath, or otherwise sick should stay out of the kitchen.
Finding Child Care
While the governor has closed schools statewide until April 27 at the earliest, child care facilities are currently allowed to remain open. Child care settings often have far fewer children than schools, so providers can more easily ensure social distancing and proper hygiene. The Department of Children, Youth and Families is working in lockstep with local partners to ensure child care providers have the necessary guidance to offer safe and supportive care during the COVID-19 crisis.
If you are looking for child care please see the following resources:
- During the state of emergency Child Care Aware, an independent organization that provides information and support for families seeking child care, is keeping an update to date list of local community options for child care. You can call them at 1-800-446-1114 or use their online child care referral search to look for options.
- Another option is to utilize the Family, Friends & Neighbor program via their website or by calling 1-866-482-4325.
- Seattle Times article on child care and at-home learning during coronavirus closures
If you have a kid at home who’s too old for child care and are looking for support, please refer to this list of resources for caring for kids at home or call your local school district. OSPI has asked superintendents to provide child care to school-age children, at no cost, in families who are in professions that are directly responding to the COVID-19 crisis. Check with your local school district to see what options are available for children of parents who are in the medical field or first responders. Districts that chose to provide child care for school-age children have been advised to take every measure possible to keep students safe. These include social distancing, consistent hand washing, sending students home if they’re sick, and routinely disinfecting surfaces.
Support for Workers & Businesses
State agencies have adopted emergency rules and developed comprehensive websites to help relieve the burden of temporary layoffs, isolation and quarantine for workers and businesses. Please keep in mind that the content in the links below will likely be updated as this situation continues unfolding, so check these sites often for the latest information.
- The Employment Security Department has resources on paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, unemployment benefits, and more. Check out this easy reference chart on scenarios and benefits.
- The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions has information available on mortgage payments, rent payments, student loan deferments, short term and emergency loans, utility payments, and more.
- The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has a site set up to help with insurance questions, including a frequently asked questions page.
- The Washington Health Benefit Exchange has opened a special enrollment period for individuals without insurance which will run through April 8th, 2020.
- The Employment Security Department has information on what resources are available to help businesses keep employees, and information about tax filing lenience.
- Governor Inslee’s website has a list of resources on:
- How to apply for federal Small Business Administration loans.
- How to request tax filing extensions or penalty waivers from the Dept. of Revenue.
- Where to go for support from the Dept. of Commerce Export Assistance Team.
- The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has a page on business insurance information, including one answering questions on event cancellation insurance.
Addressing health care, insurance, long-term care needs during this crisis
During this unprecedented public health emergency, it is critical that important health care information is accessible for everyone. Many state agencies and health insurers are working to be responsive to the needs of Washingtonians.
Please use the resources below to help you make informed decisions about keeping you and your family healthy.
- Special open enrollment period through April 8
- Office of the Insurance Commissioner Coronavirus website
- What health insurance plans must cover
- Medicare and coronavirus
- Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) clients corona virus (COVID-19) FAQ
Public employee insurance and COVID-19
- Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Program eligibility during the COVID-19 outbreak
- School Employees Benefits Board (SEBB) Program eligibility relating to school closures