In today’s update:
- MDE – Online Learning Won’t Toward Instructional Time During Closures
- USDOE Announces Broad Waiver of School Standardized Test Requirements
- MASA Food Service Program Survey Results
- MASA COVID-19 Resource Center
MDE – Online Learning Won’t Toward Instructional Time During Closures
MDE sent a memo on Friday to stating that it won’t count online learning during the period of school closures toward required annual instructional hours.
“There is no mechanism to earn instructional time during a period of mandated school closure, however schools are encouraged to offer supplemental learning opportunities to students using distance learning methods if they see fit,” the memo stated.
The memo also noted that ISDs and LEAS can offer professional learning to employees, but it would not qualify for instructional time during the mandated school closures.
MDE also said it will not be granting seat time waiver requests at this time.
Later in the day, State Superintendent Dr. Rice issued a press release regarding MDE’s decision.
The press release states:
“State law limits us in this situation – not for an individual child in an individual cyber school or an individual virtual course offering, but for children across the state, many of whom have no computers at home, no connectivity, and no adults to monitor their learning and/or technology,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice.
“The state legislature should change state law to permit days out of school for this public health emergency to be counted as instructional days. Last year, the state legislature took similar action with the polar vortex January 29 through February 2, 2019,” Dr. Rice added. “Under the current conditions, the legislature should make clear in law that the school year will not be extended into the summer.”
USDOE Announces Broad Waiver of School Standardized Test Requirements
President Trump and the U.S. Department of Education announced Friday that the federal government will waive assessment requirements amid COVID-19 disruptions. Read the press release.
“Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment. Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions.”
States can apply for waivers using a checklist.
This announcement comes after AASA and all of its state affiliates, including MASA, wrote a letter calling on Congress to support narrow-in-scope waivers related to assessment and accountability in the context of the current national crisis related to COVID-19.
All 49 affiliates of AASA signed the joint letter to the leaders of the U.S. House and Senate education committees.
The letter states, “With more than three-quarters of our states issuing statewide school closures—closures that are increasingly likely to last the remainder of the school year—it is clear there will be an impact on our ability to comply with assessment and accountability requirements.”
MASA also shared the letter with the Michigan delegation.
Click here to read the letter.
MASA Food Service Program Survey Results
Thank you to those of you who took time out of your busy schedules to complete the Food Service Program Survey. This survey has allowed us to collect data on what districts are providing meals to students and the schedules you have designed to provide this important service to your students. The results of the survey provide insight on practices currently happening as well as areas on which we need to focus our attention to provide better supports and services to districts and students. We will be sharing these survey results with MDE, so we can continue to support all of you as together we work through these unprecedented times!
Know that members have asked many questions about Title I funding, spring break, open meetings, food services, etc. The big question is the forgiveness of days that districts will be closed. MASA, MASB, labor leaders, and lawmakers are working on a solution and we will share that information with you as soon as we have something definitive to share.
We continue to work closely with state agencies to track down information and answers. Please continue to pass along your questions to contacts at MASA and we will reach out to the appropriate officials and agencies to track down answers as soon as we can. Please know that while schools might be closed to children, MASA staff are working diligently to keep you informed.
MASA COVID-19 Resource Center
As a reminder, please visit MASA’s COVID-19 Resource Center for the latest information and resources to help during this period of time.