Introduction

This page collects legislative examples, executive orders and other state actions in response to the closures and other effects of the coronavirus pandemic for schools and colleges. It is organized by content area; click to expand any of the sections below. It is important to note that this information is not all-inclusive, but rather, a snapshot of what we know at the time of this posting.

For an up-to-date tally of introduced legislation relating to the COVID-19 impacts on education, please see our 2020 State Education Policy Watch List. Additionally, our State Education Policy Tracking tool captures enacted and vetoed legislation relating to COVID-19 impacts.

On our Ed Note blog, we are featuring posts that highlight innovative state examples and responses to the challenges states and educators are facing currently.

If you are a state policymaker with a pressing question or need, please reach out to your State Relations liaison. We would be happy to assist.

All of this information continues to be updated regularly, so please bookmark this page.

Click here to download this document as a PDF. Last updated June 24, 2020. Highlights denote additions and updates made this week.

Federal Guidance

Information on the federal government’s response to and resources regarding the coronavirus pandemic can be accessed at coronavirus.gov.

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

  • On May 20, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released detailed reopening guidelines for schools and child care centers. The guidelines primarily focus on the following: scaling up operations to promote safety actions and social distancing; intensifying cleaning, disinfection and ventilation; training staff and creating plans to deal with child or staff sickness.

  • On May 14, the CDC released decision tools on how schools and child care centers could begin the process of reopening. These decision tools are recommendations to state and local officials as they begin to prepare for all possibilities this upcoming fall.

CARES Act Information

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which was signed into law March 27, had many provisions relevant to education and education policy. The full text of the act can be found here and New America has published a summary of its education provisions here.
    • On April 9, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos published a letter to college and university presidents describing CARES Act funding for higher education; on that same day the department of education published this list of allocation amounts for each higher education institution.
    • On April 14, DeVos announced that the nearly $3 billion Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which was authorized by the CARES Act, would be quickly made available to governors. The list of allocation amounts to each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico can be found here and an FAQ document from the U.S. Department of Education can be found here. The Hunt Institute is tracking state GEER fund utilization here.
    • On April 21, DeVos announced an additional $6.2 billion available to higher education institutions through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act.
    • On April 23, DeVos announced $13.2 billion in coronavirus pandemic relief through the Emergency and Secondary School Education Relief Fund. State education agencies must allocate 90% of the funds to local education agencies. The list of allocation amounts for each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico can be found here.
    • On April 30, DeVos announced that nearly $1.4 billion in additional funding, as part of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, will be directed to minority-serving institutions — including historically black colleges and universities and tribally controlled colleges and universities — and institutions serving low-income students.
    • On June 5, the U.S. Department of Education released an FAQ document on the maintenance-of-effort requirements applicable to the CARES Act programs, available here. On June 8, the department announced that, as authorized in the CARES Act, states may submit waiver applications for an extension of the period of availability of certain IDEA grant award funds; this announcement is available here, and the waiver request form is available here.
    • On June 19, DeVos announced $127.5 million for the Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant. The funds for this grant are part of the discretionary grant program section of the CARES Act. Applications are due August 24th.

U.S. Department of Education

  • On May 18, the department released a fact sheet outlining states’ responsibilities to English learners and their parents during extended school closures.

  • On May 15 (updated June 16), The Office of Postsecondary Education released guidance for managing interruptions of study related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The office expands regulatory flexibilities and provides information related to the CARES Act. See here for an FAQ regarding the temporary suspension of federal student loan interest and payments.

  • The U.S. Department of Education has a landing page with coronavirus pandemic-related information at gov/coronavirus. See here and here for guidance on providing services to children with disabilities during the outbreak.

  • A press release from April 6 provides an overview of “new funding flexibilities to support continued learning,” as authorized by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Other U.S. Departments

  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a statement addressing “flexibilities to make it easier for children [and others] to get food during the COVID-19 national emergency and remove administrative roadblocks for the dedicated local staff who serve them.” The USDA announced extended flexibilities to ensure kids have access to food over the summer. On April 3, the USDA announced it was opening an application window for a Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program.

Governor’s Executive Actions and State Guidance

The National Governors Association provides a resource page covering governors’ actions across the states in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This page includes a section on schools/childcare and universities. Additionally, the National Association of State Boards of Education provides a policy update on Continued Learning during COVID-19 that reviews state guidance for addressing a variety of issues.

Below are examples of guidance from states on matters related to education:

  • Arizona: The Arizona Department of Education’s Office of Communications has posted Guidance to Schools on COVID-19. Resources on that page include an interactive map showing where students can receive free meals and a Virtual Resource Hub for teachers and families “to assist them as they plan for non-traditional instruction.” The state also provided a Frequently Asked Questions document that addresses which schools are impacted by the closure, online learning, graduation, statewide assessments and student meals.
  • Delaware: On May 18, Gov. John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced the formation of three COVID-19 School Reopening Working Groups, on Health and Wellness; Academics and Equity; and Operations and Services. These groups are tasked with developing recommendations for Bunting, superintendents and charter leaders to consider as they create a reopening plan which is expected by July 15. All meetings of the working groups are livestreamed and archived on the department of education’s YouTube page, which can be found here.
  • Kansas: The Kansas commissioner of education convened a Continuous Learning Task Force to develop plans for moving education online, assisting students who do not have access to online tools and providing for students with Individual Education Plans. This is the Continuous Learning Task Force Guidance and the implementation guidance.
  • Michigan: The Michigan Department of Education released a series of memos addressing potential concerns about school closures. The memos offer guidance on a variety of education issues including summer programming. On May 15, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order No. 2020-88 to convene a COVID-19 Return to School Advisory Council.
  • Mississippi: The Mississippi State Board of Education made policy changes to manage the impact of extended school closures that are described succinctly here, and also hosted webinars on the changes which are available here. Policy areas modified include graduation for the class of 2020, high school end-of-course assessments and educator preparation programs. Additional guidance and information are available here.
  • North Dakota: The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has posted School Guidance that contains expectations and general guidance for schools, including, among other things, information on student well-being, how the closures impact special education, online learning, state aid to schools, teacher evaluations and professional development requirements, makeup days for school closures, student attendance, assessment and accountability, and school meals.
  • Washington: Washington compiled online resources for continuous learning that align with state learning standards here, and published a Continuous Learning 2020 resource here. The state also published updated Guidance for Long Term School Closures on April 15. Guidance for supporting English learners and migrant students were released on April 27, and guidance for student learning and grading was released on April 21. Additional information can be found here.

Education Topic Areas

Assessments and Accountability

The U.S. Department of Education and President Donald Trump announced March 20 that schools can apply to waive assessments for the rest of the 2020 school year. Waivers have been approved for all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. The approval letters can be found here. Below are examples of state action relevant to assessments and accountability:

  • Louisiana: On June 1, Louisiana enacted SCR 72 to request the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education “review the necessity to suspend all statewide assessments for the 2020-2021 school year, due to the impact of the school closures caused by COVID-19.”
  • Massachusetts: On April 10, Gov. Charlie Baker signed 4616 which, among other things, charges the commissioner of elementary and secondary education to modify or waive “the requirement for a comprehensive diagnostic assessment of individual students … in order to address disruptions caused by the [COVID-19] outbreak.”
  • Mississippi: The Mississippi State Board of Education ruled on March 26 that students in grades 7-12 who are currently enrolled in Algebra I, Biology, English II, and/or U.S. History are not required to “take and/or pass the corresponding end-of-course subject area test(s) or meet one of the options in lieu of passing the test(s) to meet graduation requirements.”
  • Missouri: An administrative memo from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, released April 3, communicates that the state has waived requirements for the third grade reading test ( Ann. Stat. § 167.645); the civics test required for high school graduation (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 170.345); and the examination on the provisions and principles of American history and civics, including the US and state constitutions, required for graduation (Mo. Ann. Stat. § 170.011).
  • New York: On April 7, the New York State Education Department announced the cancelation of the June 2020 administration of the New York State Regents Examinations. The memorandum also included information on the adjustments that would be made “to the examination requirements that students must ordinarily meet in order to earn diplomas, credentials, and endorsements so that the cancellation of these exams will not adversely impact students.”
  • Wisconsin: B. 1038 (enacted) prohibits the department of public instruction from publishing a school and school district accountability report in the 2020-21 school year.

Broadband and Technology Access

Switching to virtual education may be one method to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but this move can also cause challenges for students who are not able to access internet-based education. Indeed, some of the challenges around remote-based learning (including internet and device access) led schools to truncate their school year. In recognition of increased reliance on internet access for many students participating in online learning, some internet service providers have altered their policies, raised internet connection speeds and eliminated data caps; however, some programs for discounted hotspots are set to expire over the next few months. For additional information on virtual or remote instruction, consult the Remote/Virtual/E-learning section of this resource.

The Federal Communications Commission extended the Keep Americans Connected Initiative through June 30. The FCC asked broadband and telephone service providers, and trade associations, to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. So far, more than 750 companies and associations have signed the pledge. The pledge includes a commitment to not terminate service of any individual or small business unable to pay their bills, to waive late fees, and to open Wi-Fi hotspots for individuals in need of internet access. Additional FCC efforts can be found here.

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance maintains 50-state information on state guidance and policies addressing internet and technological device access. The following examples were captured in their tracking:

  • Nebraska: Nebraska’s Public Service Commission has issued an order allocating $1 million via the Nebraska Universal Service Fund to reimburse internet service providers for providing service to low-income families.
  • Wyoming: The Wyoming Public Service Commission prohibited the suspension of services or issuance of late fees by internet providers statewide.

Many schools, local education agencies, states and others have sought out solutions to access issues for students who do not have internet access or devices capable of internet access. Below are some examples:

  • According to America’s Public Television Stations, public media education partnerships have been made with school districts, governments and education agencies in at least 34 states. More information on those partnerships can be found here.
  • A compilation of wireless networking options that may be available to students through telecommunications companies in various states can be found here.
  • California: On April 1, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a partnership with Google to provide Chromebooks and mobile hotspots to students in rural areas to facilitate distance learning. Google pledged to donate Chromebooks and “will fund the use of 100,000 donated mobile hotspots to provide free and unlimited high-speed Internet connectivity for the remainder of the school year.” These will be distributed by the California Department of Education, and rural communities will be prioritized in their distribution.
  • New Mexico: In order to support summer learning, Albuquerque Public Schools announced that students will continue to have access to Chromebooks and the internet throughout the summer.
  • The New York City Department of Education is lending 300,000 internet-enabled iPads to students. The iPads are being distributed to students gradually with priority for students participating in summer school. Previously, priority was given to students living in shelters, temporary housing and foster care, and to students who are multilingual learners and/or students with disabilities.
  • South Carolina: The South Carolina Department of Education maintains a website that provides information and links to internet service providers offering free or discounted internet services for students impacted by school closures. The department also houses a map showing where Wi-Fi hot spots can be found throughout the state.
  • Texas: The Austin Independent School District developed a program to “get computers and internet access to as many students, homes, and neighborhoods as possible while campuses are closed.” This program has involved the delivery of Chromebooks and Wi-Fi hotspots to students in grades 3-7 who need these devices, as well as the retrofitting of 110 school buses with Wi-Fi capabilities in order to broadcast hot spots up to 200 feet to increase internet access for students. Updates to the AISD webpage indicate that students may continue to use their Chromebooks over the summer and into fall.

Continued and Future Learning

Many schools, states, local education agencies and others have turned their attention toward what school will look like for students beyond the spring 2020 semester. A blog post on Ed Note offers details on the continuation of educational services at state-run schools, such as schools for students with vision and hearing loss and juvenile justice facilities. ExcelinEd surveyed state education chiefs and governors’ offices and found that the majority of education leaders plan to allow local districts to determine their reopening schedules. According to data collected by Education Week, the majority of state’s education reopening decisions are currently being made at the district level. The National Governor’s Association compiled and summarized information on summer camp and summer school reopening policies here.  Below are links to resources that review a range of reopening options states may consider when crafting their reopening plans.

At least one study has projected that school closures will have a negative impact on student academic achievement. In a guest blog post for ECS, the authors of that study discuss what states can and are doing to mitigate the projected negative impacts on academic achievement. An April 7 article from FutureEd questioned how and if summer schools could be used to keep students learning in light of spring school closures. An article in Chalkbeat highlights the issues many districts are grappling with when considering summer school offerings.

Education Next compiled state-by-state information, last updated May 4, on when schools may reopen. In a similar vein, Education Week frequently updates a list of each state’s current learning environment and provides additional context. The Southern Regional Education Board compiled state plans for its member states here. From a postsecondary education perspective, the Chronicle of Higher Education maintains a database of reopening plans for colleges across the country. Below are some examples of education leaders who are considering what education will look like in the summer, fall and future semesters for K-12 schools and higher education institutions. 

  • Alaska: The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development published Alaska Smart Start 2020: Restart & Reentry Framework Guidance for K-12 Schools, available here. The department is also holding a Smart Start 2020 Webinar Series, with 7 weeks of webinars planned between May 19 and July 2. Meeting materials from past webinars, including slides, links and further details can be found here.  
  • Arizona: After convening a task force to discuss reopening school for the 2020-21 school year, the superintendent of public instruction has released a Roadmap for Reopening Schools.
  • Arkansas: The state division of elementary and secondary education has updated guidance noting that local districts considering summer school options should plan for digital delivery only until at least July 1.
  • California: On June 5, the California Department of Public Health released a COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Schools and School-Based Programs Also on June 5, the California Department of Education released “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools,” which is described as a “guide for local discussion on reopening schools” rather than a “’one-size-fits-all’ document”.
  • Colorado: The department of education is regularly updating A Framework and Toolkit for School and District Leaders for Feedback. The toolkit aims to “provide K-12 districts and schools with considerations and guidance for the 2020-21 school year that are based on health and safety protocols and advance quality education, equity, and opportunity.”
  • Connecticut: The Office of Gov. Ned Lamont issued this report on reopening higher education institutions. The report contains guidance recommended to the governor from the Higher Education Subcommittee.
  • Florida: On June 11, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced “recommendations for local communities to consider as they finalize plans to re-open safe and healthy schools that are set up for success.” The complete guidance, available here, is divided into four sections on the Impacts on Achievement Gaps, Guidance for Reopening Healthy Learning Environments, the CARES Act and CARES- Safety Net Funds in Reserve.
  • Hawaii: The Legislature adopted R. 144, requesting the Hawaii Department of Education to develop a reopening plan for the 2020-21 school year based on CDC guidelines. HDE is currently developing the guidance, the page can be accessed here.
  • Idaho: The state board of education released ( 18) school re-entry criteria for in-person instruction in line with Gov. Brad Little’s Idaho Rebounds plan. All re-entry plans must be approved by local health districts and contain an immediate closure plan should a student or faculty member be diagnosed with the virus.
  • Indiana: On June 5, the Indiana Department of Education released “Indiana’s Considerations for Learning and Safe Schools (IN-CLASS): COVID-19 Health and Safety Re-entry Guidance,” which is described as a “guide of considerations to inform schools and districts as they approach planning and preparing school operations surrounding COVID-19”.
  • Illinois: On June 4, Gov. J.B. Pritzker released an executive order specifying that reopened schools must take certain proactive measures to ensure safety, such as limiting the number of people in one space to 10 or fewer and ensuring compliance with social distancing requirements to the greatest extent possible.
  • Kentucky: The department of education released on May 15 the Considerations for Reopening Schools—Initial Guidance for Schools and Districts. The department highlights recommended reopening steps and guiding questions directed at school administrators and staff. Updated intermediate school closure guidance was released June 15.
  • Louisiana: The department of education launched Strong Start 2020 to help schools address unfinished learning, set a strong foundation for learning in the upcoming academic year and prepare for modified operation eventualities. The Louisiana legislature enrolled SCR63 on May 31,which requests that the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a task force to “assist the state Department of Education in developing guidance for Louisiana educators to meet the immediate need of supporting learning outside of normal practices”.
  • Maine: The Maine Department of Education released a Return to Classroom Instruction Framework, which was last updated June 11 and is available here. This framework is divided into five parts: physical health and safety considerations; social, emotional, behavioral and mental health considerations; academic programs and student learning considerations; common foundations for remote learning; and additional considerations.
  • Maryland: The state superintendent of schools released Maryland’s Recovery Plan for Education: COVID-19 Response and the Path Forward, which provides tools and resources for districts and schools to use when considering reopening schools.
  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Higher Education Working group released this framework for reopening colleges and universities. The reopening framework includes four phases. This plan is not official guidance but will be considered by the Reopening Advisory Board.
  • Minnesota: On May 20, the department of education published Summer Programming Guidance for Schools. The department determined that a school district or charter school may open school buildings for a hybrid model of in-school learning and distance learning for summer school.  
  • Mississippi: On June 8, the Mississippi Department of Education released Considerations for Reopening Mississippi Schools between June-August 2020, available here. This document provides information on three types of school opening schedules: traditional, virtual and hybrid.
  • Montana: The state rescinded the directive for school closures, allowing schools to reopen as early as May 7. According to the office of public instruction, schools may continue to provide distance learning, a mixed-delivery model or declare local emergency school closures. The office also released a working document with guidance on school re-entry and recovery after a pandemic event. Montana Learn 2020 and Montana Flex 2020 are task forces currently working on K-12 re-opening guidance.
  • Nebraska: The education commissioner released a message on April 23 advising that all summer learning be provided in a remote environment. Remote instruction will qualify as the same as in person instruction for summer school allowance.
  • North Carolina: Part of the state’s COVID-19 Relief package (B. 704) requires schools to open on August 17 — a week earlier than usual — for the next academic year. On June 11, the North Carolina State Board of Education approved the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Lighting Our Way Forward: North Carolina’s Guidebook for Reopening Public Schools resource, which is summarized here and available in full here.
  • Oklahoma: At its May 28 meeting, the board of education voted to allow schools to hold classes on Saturdays. Saturday classes would not be mandatory, but if districts opt to hold Saturday classes, those days would count toward the minimum number of instructional days.
  • Oregon: The Department of Education released guidance to assist the planning between May and the beginning of the 2020-21 school year. Effective June 1, the state is allowing limited in-person summer school, small group instruction and/or summer programing. On June 10, the department published guidance around the 2020-21 school year.
  • Pennsylvania: On June 3, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released Preliminary Guidance for Phased Reopening of Pre-K to 12 Schools. This document includes plan requirements and recommendations for schools considering a return to in-person instruction. More information on Pennsylvania’s phased re-opening of schools can be found here.
  • Texas: As part of Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan, on May 18 Gov. Greg Abbott announced that schools may begin offering in-person summer school beginning June 1. Teachers and staff are encouraged to continue working from home but may return to campus for in-person activities, such as summer school. The Texas Education Agency has released more detailed guidance for summer school. According to the governor’s announcement, higher education institutions may reopen campuses and are encouraged to establish standards that would allow for similar in-person summer learning activities.
  • Virginia: On June 9, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a phased approach to reopening preK-12 schools in Virginia. Opportunities for in-person instruction are rolled out in phases: first for special education programs and with child care for working families; then expansion to include preschool through third grade students, English learners, and summer camps in school buildings; followed by an expansion to all students if strict social distancing measures can be maintained, which may require alternative schedules blending in-person and remote learning for students. The full guidance can be found here.
  • Washington: On June 11, the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction released Reopening Washington Schools 2020: District Planning Guide, available here.
  • West Virginia: The department of education has released guidance on summer learning opportunities. Free books will be available for early elementary students, free credit recovery will be available for students who were failing courses as of March 13, all fees for the West Virginia Virtual School will be waived for middle and high school students, and teachers will have free access to professional learning opportunities.
  • Wisconsin: Released this plan for a phased reopening, which includes resuming in-school operations for K-12 schools in phase one.

Early Learning

Resources and state guidance relevant to early learning responses to the COVID-19 pandemic:

Below we list some examples of relevant policy changes and guidance:

  • Georgia: On March 15, the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning published this guidance to child care and Georgia pre-K providers, detailing, among other things, that “Georgia Pre-K payments will not be impacted, and Pre-K lead and assistant teachers will still be paid” and that child care and parent services scholarship payments would be continued regardless of program attendance. On May 29, updated guidance for child care programs provided a checklist to ensure compliance with health and safety protocols. The state also released an FAQ document related specifically to early learning, last updated June 2.
  • Illinois: Gov. J.B. Pritzker established a COVID-19: Illinois’ Early Childhood Care and Education Response guidance document on March 30. This document established that early education programs funded through the state board’s Preschool for All and Prevention Initiative programs will not have their funding affected by a decision to close. On April 7, the state issued updated COVID-19 Guidance for Child Care and Early Learning Programs, following the extension of the governor’s stay-at-home order. On April 20, the state released updated guidance to complement the previous releases. On May 22, the state released reopening guidance for child care programs.
  • New Mexico: On May 1, the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) announced that it will use a portion of its federal CARES Act stimulus funding to offer incentive pay to early childhood professionals who are working in centers that remain open during the public health emergency. ECECD, in partnership with the New Mexico Economic Development Department, also made $12 million in grant funding available to childcare providers through the Childcare Stabilization and Recovery Grant Program. This funding is to be administered in conjunction with the administration of small business funding provided through the CARES Act.
  • Vermont: The Vermont Agency of Education released Prekindergarten Education and Continuity of Learning guidance on April 13. The guidance covers social and emotional support, pre-K learning resources and tuition payments. On April 28, the agency released this document on pre-K learning at home.

Finance

The federal government, states, state education agencies, local education agencies, schools, postsecondary institutions and others are grappling with how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting finances and education funds. Below we list resources and examples of responses to these financial questions.

Resources related to CARES Act funding:

  • FutureEd published “What Congressional Covid Funding Means for K-12 Schools” which lists 12 allowable uses of the $13.2 billion dedicated to K-12 relief in the CARES Act. The resource also covers funding implications for students with disabilities, child nutrition and student-based health care, information on Rethink K-12 School Models grant, and includes state-by-state education stabilization fund amounts as reported by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. The resource was last updated June 19.
  • This Education Week article features analysis on the economic impact that CARES Act funds will have on states’ school funding.   
  • The American Council on Education created a searchable database simulating and forecasting the distribution of CARES Act funds to higher education institutions, available here.
  • Bellwether Education Partners is releasing a series of briefs on CARES Act funding to help state and local policymakers make informed decisions about how to use the funds.
  • The Student Success Through Applied Research Lab provides an interactive tool for CARES Act funding allocations, specifically at the postsecondary level. The tool provides a map of CARES Act allocations and college score card characteristics, total CARES Act allocation by state and institution type, funding per student and total allocation.

Resources related to state and local funding:

  • An article from Education Dive explores equity concerns that budget cuts could widen racial funding gaps.
  • More Clues From the Great Recession: How Will COVID-19 Affect Community College Funding: Using lessons learned from the Great Recession and IPEDS data on trends in college revenue, the Community College Research Center discusses what community colleges may expect in terms of changing state and local support.
  • How Much Will COVID-19 Cost Schools: Using data provided by the Learning Policy Institute, EdWeek has built an interactive calculator to project increased education costs for states.
  • Brookings has a blog post from April 9 titled “How the coronavirus shutdown will affect school district revenues,” which includes information on how each state relies on state funds for education, projects how 2020-2021 budgets may be more directly impacted by coronavirus cuts than 2019-2020 and warns about the potentially inequitable impacts of a recession. Brookings also has a running blog post series exploring Congressional decisions to provide federal aid for schools during COVID-19.
  • This interactive funding tool provides a range of information on additional sources of funding during COVID, including an overview of the CARES Act, information on LEA stimulus funding, IHE stimulus funding and governor’s funding broken down by state.
  • On May 22, ECS published COVID-19 and School Funding: What to Expect and What Can States Do. The post provides an analysis on determining state budget cuts and links to an interactive tool for budgeting scenarios and suggestions for education leaders around this issue. A blog post from the Learning Policy Institute examines the amount of funding necessary to stabilize falling state and local revenues.
  • This Center on Budget and Policy Priorities fact sheet shows the preliminary estimates of declines in general fund revenue for several states, providing an initial glimpse at potential state budget conditions.
  • An Education Dive article on K-12 budget cuts highlights additional research from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities that suggests that less than half of states have warned their districts of revenue cuts for the upcoming school year.
  • Education Dive also released an article on postsecondary budget cuts highlighting how state policymakers are approaching higher education spending. The report highlights actions taken in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oklahoma and
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts looked at state funding trends during past recessions to examine how state support for postsecondary institutions could change during the pandemic and economic crisis.
  • WestEd published a report providing considerations for state education leaders and policymakers to ensure that reductions to state education budgets are implemented in a fair and equitable manner.

State Responses:

According to a June 15 article from Education Dive, most states plan to use GEER funds to expand or continue meeting students’ needs for access to reliable, high speed internet and devices. In some states, funds will also be used to create grant programs for districts and provide professional development for teachers.

  • Colorado: Jared Polis announced several budget cuts for the current fiscal year because of insufficient revenues. Some of the programs for which funding was cut include the Educator Loan Forgiveness Fund, the Colorado Second Chance Scholarship, teaching fellowship stipends and the teacher mentor grant program. On May 18, Polis issued an executive order directing CARES Act funds: $510,000,000 to K-12 school districts and $450,000,000 to higher education institutions. The School Finance Unit maintains a COVID-19 Questions and Answers webpage. The Joint Budget Committee released on May 18 a memorandum on revised long bill recommendations for school finance.
  • Florida: The department of education released “Reopening Florida’s Schools and the CARES Act” which outlines how CARES Act funds will be used in alignment with the governor’s education priorities.
  • Illinois: A Chalkbeat article details how the state board of education plans to allocate its $569 million in CARES Act funding, including $512 million to school districts based on how many low-income students each district serves, $32.9 million to additional technology and device purchases, $7.1 million to internet connectivity and $12 million to coaching educators on remote learning.
  • Indiana: The department of education released guidance on reporting virtual students for the 2020-21 school year, which addresses differences in funding for students participating in virtual learning because of COVID-19 school closures and students participating in virtual learning prior to the pandemic.
  • Minnesota: Recently enacted F. 4415 adjusts school aid formulas in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with adjustments for specific expenditures and forms of aid.
  • Montana: Montana expects to receive $41.3 million of CARES Act funds. The Montana Office of Public Instruction has published guidance for the allocation of these funds, including preliminary estimations of how these funds will be allocated to individual schools throughout the state.
  • North Carolina: On March 24, the North Carolina superintendent of public instruction released this memorandum, announcing a new $50 million “flexible allotment for all public school units to address COVID-19 related expenses” and newly granted flexibilities for districts to use existing allocations to meet student needs. Recently enacted B. 704 also provides additional state funds for education and H.B. 1043 appropriates CARES Act funding.
  • South Dakota: Kristi Noem announced on May 26 that $68 million in federal CARES Act funding has been allocated to education efforts in the state, with that amount going into three policy buckets: $41 million to elementary and secondary schools for technology and internet access, cleaning expenses and other health measures; $19 million to higher education emergency relief funding; and roughly $7.9 million to the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Funds.
  • Tennessee: A May 29 presentation by the department of education details SEA allocation of CARES Act funding.
  • Virginia: On April 7, the Virginia superintendent of public instruction announced that the U.S. Department of Education had approved the state’s application for additional flexibility in using federal education funds, as detailed in this press release.

Instructional Time and Grade Promotion

This 50-state resource on instructional time offers information that includes minimum day, hour or minute requirements. Although it does not specifically capture information regarding exceptions or waivers to these requirements because of emergencies (such as for an epidemic), many states make mention of such emergency provisions in similar or adjacent sections of code to those cited on this page.

Several states have introduced legislation, published guidance or enacted new policies regarding graduation requirements for high school students in light of coronavirus disruptions. The National Association of State Boards of Education published an overview of state board adjustments to graduation policies, available here. Education Week is tracking changes to state graduation criteria for the class of 2020, as well as other graduation requirement flexibilities. Below, we review recent policy changes in several states:

Graduation Requirements

  • In Colorado, graduation requirements are currently determined by the district, which offers flexibility in the ability to adjust graduation requirements. The state department of education has published guidance for districts.
  • Mississippi: The state board waived certain end-of-course assessments that could not be administered.
  • The North Carolina State Board of Education announced that seniors will receive a pass/fail designation, that failing students should receive remote learning opportunities, and districts cannot require more than 22 credit hours (the state minimum) to graduate.
  • Tennessee: The state board of education released guidance for what components must be included in a LEA’s continuous learning plan for the 2020-21 school year, including how the LEA will meet instructional time requirements.
  • Ohio: B. 197 (enacted) permits public and nonpublic schools to grant a diploma to any student on track to graduate and for whom the principal, in consultation with teachers and counselors, determines has successfully completed the high school curriculum or individualized education program at the time of the order to close schools.
  • Section 10 of Washington B. 2965 (enacted) authorizes the state board of education to administer an emergency waiver program to ensure that students on track to graduate before February 20, 2020 are not negatively affected. On April 8, the state board approved emergency rules “that allow school districts to apply for greater flexibility in awarding a diploma to high school seniors impacted by closures”.

Grade Promotion

Postsecondary

Postsecondary institutions — and the students who are both currently enrolled or who soon hope to be enrolled in their programs — are facing much disruption related to the coronavirus. Resources relevant to postsecondary education responses to COVID-19 include:

Below are some institutional policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • California State University issued a one-time $500 payment to full-time, low income students, who have attended the university for at least one year. Undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive these grants.
  • On June 4, the Iowa Board of Regents approved a tuition freeze for the Fall 2020 semester.
  • The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, among other institutions, have adjusted their Fall 2020 schedule to end the semester before the Thanksgiving holiday. Institutions are looking to stave off a second wave of COVID-19 in the late Fall or early Winter with these decisions.
  • On April 29, Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education Board of Governors approved a tuition freeze for the 2020-21 academic year.
  • The University of Washington announced that it will use funds from the CARES Act to provide $1,200 per student who qualifies for financial need. Students who meet financial need and have dependents will receive $1,700. Funds are not available to international students, undocumented students, non-matriculated students or students enrolled in distance-only degree programs. The university is also keeping the campus food pantry open by taking orders online.

Below are examples of postsecondary education policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • California: The University of California and the California State University systems provide examples of higher education institutions relaxing admissions A joint statement from the California State Board of Education, the California Department of Education, California State University, the University of California, California Community Colleges and the Association of Independent California College and Universities addressing “university admissions and placement challenges presented by the suspension of in-person instruction” can be found here.
  • Colorado: The Colorado Department of Education has published guidance FAQs on both concurrent enrollment and higher education admissions.
  • Georgia: Guidance from the department of education includes information on college admissions and scholarship eligibility. The University System of Georgia will not require students applying for admission in fall 2020 to submit an ACT or SAT score, though students who have scores are still free to submit them for consideration. The Technical College System of Georgia suspended placement exam requirements, as well as requirements to submit official high school transcripts or equivalency transcripts for admission in summer and fall 2020 classes.
  • Maryland: B. 329 and H.B. 187 (enacted) require a public institution of higher education to submit an outbreak response plan to the Maryland Department of Health on or before August 1 each year, beginning in 2021. Additionally, the bills outline certain conditions under which a public institution of higher education is required to implement the outbreak response plan and certain processes that must be included in the plan.
  • New Jersey: B. 2356 (enacted) exempts the Spring 2020 semester from counting towards the number of semesters a student is eligible for a scholarship award. Additionally, the bill waives any costs a student would have to pay back when moving from full- to part-time enrollment status if the status change was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Pennsylvania: The department of education released preliminary guidance for resuming in-person instruction at postsecondary institutions and adult education programs.
  • South Dakota: The South Dakota Board of Regents provided temporary policy exemptions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Policies listed under the exemptions include academic probation and academic suspension, acceptance of AP credits, alternative grading options for spring 2020, alternative math placement, maximum number of course withdrawals, registration and course attempts, tenure review extension and transfer of credit.
  • West Virginia: The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and Council for Community and Technical College Education voted to improve flexibilities for students. Among other things, the commission approved suspending GPA requirements to renew certain scholarships and grants. Similarly, the council suspended the community service and GPA requirements to maintain the West Virginia Invests Grant.
  • Virginia: Gov. Ralph Northam released guidance for reopening higher education institutions. The guidance includes public health conditions and considerations, developing campus reopening plans, and licensing and regulatory flexibilities.

Remote/Virtual/E-Learning

States, districts and schools have developed and implemented remote learning plans to accommodate school campus and building closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Enterprise Institute has been tracking the implementation of remote learning plans. In an ongoing analysis of school district responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, AEI found that over half of schools rely most or completely on online platforms to provide remote instruction. For information on how states and districts are addressing internet and technological device access, consult the Broadband and Technology Access section of this resource. For information on how states and districts are working to support student learning for the remainder of the 2020 calendar year see the Continued and Future Learning section of this resource.

The Center for Reinventing Public Education conducted an analysis of remote learning plans for 477 school districts. Among other key findings, the analysis discovered that just a third of school districts have provided clear expectations that teachers provide remote instruction, track student engagement or monitor academic progress. The analysis also found gaps between affluent and low-income districts, and between urban/suburban and rural districts, in expectations for instruction.

Resources to Support Remote Learning:

  • The Aurora Institute published a blog post detailing new flexibilities in using federal funds to support technology infrastructure and teacher professional development for remote learning.
  • The Digital Learning Collaborative has a resource from December 2019 called “eLearning Days: A Scan of Policy and Guidance,” available here.
  • A survey of state guidance from MIT Teaching Systems Lab found that “the most substantial point of divergence in remote learning policy guidance” was whether local education agencies were advised to focus on “enrichment,” emphasizing the review of previously taught skills, or to focus on “new material,” seeking to advance standards-based learning. The question of whether to emphasize enrichment or new material will be an important question for education leaders when considering future semesters.
  • On May 14, Education Week released their review of state remote learning directives and guidance. They found that states largely focused on providing recommendations rather than guidance, loosened seat time requirements, shifted from enrichment to new material, and adopted hold-harmless grading provisions.
  • The State Educational Technology Directors Association released a June 1 report providing considerations for state education agencies around CARES Act funding in relation to digital learning. The report makes recommendations on state digital learning plans, district digital learning plans, equitable access to technology and internet, and implementing digital content. The report also examined how CARES Act funding may be useful in pursuing these recommendations.

State Responses:

State education agencies continue to release and update guidance and resources for remote and online learning. A couple of examples include Ohio’s remote learning resource guide and Massachusetts’s remote learning guidance.

Florida provides an example of virtual education used in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Florida Virtual School also formed a partnership with the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development to offer the Alaska Statewide Virtual School, which is intended for students in Alaska to supplement remote learning opportunities provided by their local schools.

The Alabama Department of Education released an RFP to “provide and manage a comprehensive statewide K-12 virtual school.” The RFP closed on June 5. A statewide virtual school would provide education options for families hesitant to send their children into schools in the fall as well as help the state prepare for future, unanticipated closures because of continued spread of COVID-19.

While Education Commission of the States has not completed a 50-state scan on this issue, this Virtual School Policy Snapshot provides an overview of state legislative activity from 2017 to 2019 and may be useful. The snapshot provides information in three primary areas: attendance and engagement, authorizing and governance, and funding. This 50-state scan on charter school policies provides information on virtual charter schools.

Special Education

As noted in the federal guidance section of this resource, the U.S. Department of Education produced a fact sheet for students with disabilities. The Center on Reinventing Public Education released a 50 state database on how states are providing local districts with resources, learning plans and help with compliance issues. Below are examples of state-level guidance for special education.

  • California: The California Department of Education published updated special education guidance on April 9, which includes a FAQ section for schools and local education agencies. The Marin County Office of Education is running a Spring Pilot Program, with protocols in place to reopen alternative and special education classrooms. Phase one of the pilot program was scheduled to run May 18-June 11, phase two is from June 12-July 31, and phase three is from August 6-August 20.
  • Illinois: The state board of education put forward a series of guidance pieces addressing how to serve students with special needs during remote learning in April and May. A FAQ on this topic was last updated on May 8.
  • Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released an FAQ for schools and districts regarding special education, which was most recently updated on May 15. This document provides guidance on such topics as district obligations to provide education to students with disabilities, state and federal timelines, and recommended educational resources for students with disabilities. The department also has a COVID-19 Information and Resources for Special Educators landing page, which includes slides from recent special education directors’ meetings.
  • New Jersey: Legislation enacted in April (A 3904) allows for special education and related services to be delivered to students with disabilities through the use of electronic communication or a virtual or online platform and as required by the student’s Individualized Education Program to the greatest extent possible.
  • New York: On June 5, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order to allow special education services and instruction to be provided in person for the summer term, effective through July 5.
  • Virginia: The department of education has compiled an FAQ page on special education student services, last updated on May 20, providing information about equitable access and support for a variety of student learning needs in preschool, elementary and secondary schools. On June 9, guidance was released by the state that allows school divisions to elect to provide in-person instruction for students with disabilities in both school year services and school year special education services, with strict social distancing rules.
  • Washington: The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction has several resources available on a special education guidance landing page, including an FAQ, a Supporting Inclusionary Practices during School Facility Closure guidance document, an Online (and Offline) Resources to Support Continuous Learning for Students with Disabilities resource list and a list of Professional Development Opportunities for Supporting Students with Disabilities resources. 

In compliance with a provision of the CARES Act, the U.S. Department of Education reviewed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to recommend if certain waiver authorities are necessary to provide flexibility to state and local education agencies to comply with the provisions of IDEA. The U.S. Department of Education “is not requesting waiver authority for any of the core tenets of the IDEA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.” 

Student Health and Wellness

Although many states closed school campuses and buildings as a method to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, school closures can have unintended consequences for students who rely on other services provided in or by schools to maintain and promote student health and wellness, such as free or reduced-price lunches, physical and mental health care, and services for students who are homeless.

Below are some examples of education policy responses to COVID-19 related to student health and wellness:

  • California: The California Department of Education published guidance on School and Child and Adult Day Care Meals, last updated June 12. The department also created an interactive CA Meals for Kids mobile app, which offers maps, directions, service times and more information to help students and families find meals during COVID-19 related emergency school closures.
  • The Hawaii State Department of Education provides a health hotline and telehealth services to students and their families. Services are provided at no cost to students.
  • Maine: Maine P. 789 (enacted) authorizes the governor, in consultation with the commissioner of education, to implement a plan to “continue to provide nutrition services to students when schools are closed in response to the threat posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” for elementary and secondary schools.
  • New Jersey: New Jersey 3840 (enacted) directs school districts to “implement a program during the period of the school closure to provide school meals to all students enrolled in the district who are eligible for the free and reduced-price school lunch and school breakfast programs.” The bill also specifies the identification of delivery sites and the use of school buses to deliver up to three school days of food per delivery to students who are not within walking distance of those delivery sites.
  • Ohio: The department of education’s telehealth guidelines include an FAQ for service providers of mental and behavioral health services to students. Additionally, they offer guidance around preventing abuse and neglect, including suggesting a reporting procedure if there is a case of suspected abuse. The department has also released guidance for supporting students in foster care to ensure educational stability during a school closure.

Physical Health and Safety

While many schools, districts and states have not yet finalized where learning will take place in the fall, they are beginning to issue physical health and safety guidance for returning to in-person learning. The School Superintendents Association estimates that an average school district can anticipate $1,778,139 in additional expenses incurred by 1) adhering to health monitoring and cleaning protocols, 2) hiring additional cleaning, nursing and transportation staff in order to implement protocols (the biggest cost driver in this estimate), 3) providing PPE for staff and 4) transportation and childcare. Education Week released a guide to help schools reimagine and repurpose large common areas and calculate social distance spaces in classrooms. Below, we outline policies and guidance to ensure physical health and safety in schools. For general information about school reopening guidance, see the Continued and Future Learning section of this resource.

  • California: The department of education’s reopening guidelines address health and safety plans for illness prevention, passive and active monitoring for symptoms related to COVID-19, hygiene, protective equipment, and cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Massachusetts: In a June 5 letter to superintendents and other school leaders, the commissioner of education outlined health guidelines and supply requirements. Masks must be worn by students and staff, and schools must supply disposable masks for students who need them. Temperature checks will not be required as part of entry screening protocols. The letter also clarifies that it is the responsibility of the district to secure disposable masks, hand sanitizer and safety materials like gloves, gowns, eye protection and N-95 masks for certain staff under certain conditions.
  • Maine: The department of education includes a physical health and safety section in the Return to Classroom Instruction Framework. Suggestions include removing furniture that cannot be easily cleaned, installing plexiglass shields for high traffic staff, marking traffic flow lines and/or 6-foot distance indicators, and being prepared to isolate, care for and transport anyone who exhibits COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Pennsylvania: The department of education released Preliminary School Sports Guidance to address sports organizations and team needs.
  • Tennessee: On June 6, the department of education announced that the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency has agreed to purchase thermometers for all schools. Schools are allocated one thermometer per 40 students.

Teachers

Given abrupt switches to online instruction and the cancellation of state assessments, some states have waived teacher evaluation requirements, provided guidance, or allowed local flexibility around evaluations. Examples of adjustments are below. Additional examples of state action around teacher evaluations can be found in this recent Education Commission of the States information request.

  • Colorado: In an executive order, Gov. Jared Polis suspended the requirements “regarding the frequency and duration of employment performance evaluations” with the goal that this would “enable schools and districts to focus on providing alternative learning opportunities for students.”
  • Louisiana: Gov. John Bel Edwards issued an executive proclamation that, among other things, suspends provisions that make teacher evaluations a necessity in order to advance or renew teaching credentials. The department of education offers additional guidance on evaluation questions in this FAQ, last updated June 3.
  • New Jersey: Gov. Phil Murphy issued an executive order that, among other things, waives the use of student growth data and requirements for observations in educator evaluations.
  • Ohio, Texas and Virginia issued some guidance to localities on teacher evaluations to provide flexibility at the district level, especially for districts unable to complete educator evaluations.

This public health crisis not only impacts current teachers but also those who are preparing to become teachers. Deans for Impact released a COVID-19 Teacher Preparation Policy Database detailing the guidance every state has issued. The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has built an interactive map showing changes and guidance provided in four areas: initial licensure and certification, clinical experiences, hiring and induction, state standards and other program requirements. The Southern Regional Education Board also identified policy areas in which states may act to “ensure that current policies do not prevent student-teachers from graduating and becoming licensed to teach in the upcoming school year.” NCTQ has collected several state examples of changes to student teaching and initial licensure requirements in an April 16 blog post. Below are some examples of state responses related to teacher preparation and licensure:

  • California: Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order suspended requirements for credential candidates to take the Teaching Performance Assessment, California Administrator Performance Assessment and other requirements if the candidate was unable to complete an assessment or requirement because of COVID-19 related closures.
  • Kansas: The Kansas State Department of Education has issued guidance on Licensure Policies during COVID-19 Pandemic that includes information on emergency substitute licenses, one-year nonrenewable licenses, testing and renewal processes.
  • Mississippi: Guidance from the department of education states that candidates seeking admission to state board-approved educator preparation programs through the end of 2021 are exempt from the program entry testing criterion. Spring 2020 educator licensure candidates are exempt from the 12-week full-day student teaching requirement to become licensed.
  • Washington: On March 19, the Legislature passed legislation pertaining to emergency teacher certificates, and has provided a document with related frequently asked questions.
  • This Education Commission of the States resource discusses how some states have turned to alternative teacher certification to mitigate teacher shortages. Although this report is from 2016, some states may consider alternative teacher certifications in light of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on educator preparation programs. Similarly, this Education Commission of the States information request response from 2019 provides examples of state legislation that allows greater flexibility in teacher licensing.

As the public health crisis continues and economic conditions create uncertainty around education funding, other teacher workforce issues are emerging. Below are resources that touch on teacher workforce related policies such as pay, working conditions, and the teacher labor market.

  • On March 11, Brookings provided information on using federal stimulus to help during the pandemic, including teacher pay.
  • Education Week has an article that discusses “this year’s statewide initiatives to increase salaries,” with an interactive map showing the status of some statewide teacher pay proposals.
  • The National Council on Teacher Quality published an article assessing how district policies on emergency school closures in 41 large districts across the country address and adapt teacher policies during emergency closures. NCTQ updated this data in a May 28 article. In a similar vein, the New York Times published an article about how unions, teachers and districts are navigating teacher work policies during this public health crisis.
  • An article featured on The 74 discusses how the new economic conditions that states face may affect teacher pensions and how states handled changes to public pensions in the previous recession.
  • On ECS’s blog, Ed Note, a recent post looks at data that can provide insights about potential changes in the educator workforce.
  • A recent blog post from the Learning Policy Institute discusses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic recession on teaching positions.

Workforce

Responses to the coronavirus pandemic are also impacting workforce development, particularly those efforts related to education. Below we have compiled some resources regarding these impacts:

Below are some examples of responses to workforce education policy:

  • U.S. Department of Education: On April 27, Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the allocation of $127.5 million for Reimagining Workforce Participation Grants. The Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants are designed to expand short-term postsecondary programs and work-based learning programs. On March 31, DeVos announced an extension for states to submit their Perkins V plans while allowing states to receive their funds on time.
  • Education Dive highlighted how some institutions and states have altered career and technical education models in response to the pandemic.
  • North Carolina: The General Assembly enacted B. 704, granting students in community college apprenticeship programs a tuition waiver if they were unable to complete coursework or field experience related to their program because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ohio: The department of education issued guidance, last updated May 21, around career and technical education during the COVID-19 health crisis. This guidance addresses testing requirements that are normally required for postsecondary credit and high school equivalency degrees.


 PUBLISHED: May 20, 2020

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 STATE(S): Nationwide

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