In today’s update:
- MDE Provides Clarification on Distance Learning for Special Education Students
- Internet Service Providers May Offer Free, Reduced-Cost Internet Access Service Thanks to FCC
- MDE Creates List of Free or Low-Cost Online Learning Resources
- Early On Services Discontinued Under Governor’s Executive Orders
- Medical Supplies/Volunteers Needed at Sparrow Health System, ISDs Donate PPEs
- Earn SCECH Credits with MASA Microcredentials
- MASA COVID-19 Resource Center
MDE Provides Clarification on Distance Learning for Special Education Students
In a memo shared Tuesday morning, MDE provided clarification on distance learning for special education students.
The memo states:
If a district chooses to provide educational support (online learning, instructional packets, enrichment/enhancement activities, among other approaches) to all students, districts must consider the additional needs of students with disabilities, including accessibility. Educational supports provided through distance learning approaches are designed to assist students in maintaining skills, and in some cases, make progress in the general education curriculum. Districts must address the unique and individual needs of students with disabilities when utilizing these approaches. If technology is needed for a student with a disability to access an educational activity, the needed technology and support must be provided by the district at no charge to the student.
USDOE provided additional guidance on this topic last week.
Most notably, the memo states: “At the outset, OCR and OSERS must address a serious misunderstanding that has recently circulated within the educational community. As school districts nationwide take necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their students, many are moving to virtual or online education (distance instruction). Some educators, however, have been reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. We remind schools they should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction, at the expense of students, to address matters pertaining to services for students with disabilities. Rather, school systems must make local decisions that take into consideration the health, safety, and well-being of all their students and staff.
To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),† Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction.”
Internet Service Providers May Offer Free, Reduced-Cost Internet Access Service Thanks to FCC
The Wireline Competition Bureau or the Federal Communications Commission has waived the Universal Service Fund (USF) gift rules until September 30, 2020. Read the press release from the FCC.
By waiving the gift rules, service providers may offer, and E-Rate program participants may solicit and accept, improved connections or additional equipment for remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak.
Services and equipment include but are not limited to:
- Increased bandwidth
- Wi-Fi hotspots
- Equipment supporting internal connections
Service providers may also offer free or reduced-cost internet access services and/or equipment directly to families with school-age children.
MDE Creates List of Free or Low-Cost Online Learning Resources
To support districts as they work to provide students with supplemental learning during this time of school closure, MDE compiled a list of online resources for various content areas. The intent of these resources is to assist with supplemental virtual learning opportunities for all students. Prior to districts moving learning experiences completely to a virtual environment, there are readiness considerations that need to be addressed. Districts can find some of these considerations in this memo, released by MDE on March 18, 2020.
A current list of content area and instructional resources for districts can be found on the MDE website. Please continue to visit this website and review information sent by the department as these resources and guidance will be continually updated. MDE is working with the administration and education partners on longer-term solutions. These resources are available in the interim.
Early On Services Discontinued Under Governor’s Executive Orders
MDE released guidance Tuesday, stating that all Early On services, including Michigan Mandatory Special Education (MMSE) for infants and toddlers must be discontinued for the duration of school closures under Gov. Whitmer’s executive orders.
All Early On services provided by an Intermediate School District (ISD), including services provided through an agreement or contract with a Local Education Agency (LEA) or any other organization/agency or individual, are to be discontinued for the duration of the closure. Services to infants and toddlers will be expected to resume at the conclusion of the closure.
Medical Supplies/Volunteers Needed at Sparrow Health System, ISDs Donate PPEs
Sparrow Health System has reached out to local ISDs for two asks: medical supplies and volunteers. Read their ask here.
Volunteers do not need to have medical experience.
ISDs are encouraged to contact their regional hospital to establish or join a community response for the increasing need for personal protection equipment (PPE). This may include conducting an inventory of local school and ISD-available equipment.
MAISA created a survey to collect information about PPE Inventory so that ISDs can participate in a joint community response.
Earn SCECH Credits with MASA Microcredentials
If you are looking for ways to earn SCECHs or renew your Administrator Certificate during school closures, register for one of MASA’s Microcredentials! Microcredentials allow superintendents and central office administrators to gain the training they need – and up to 30 SCECHs – to become leaders in their field, while mastering those 21st Century skills that their students will also need to know.
In order to help educators keep their costs down, MASA is offering these courses at a reduced fee of $250 (compared to $500).
MASA has partnered with Michigan Virtual to bring microcredentials to MASA members, and they are available through Michigan Virtual’s catalog. Two courses are available now: Communications and District Leadership Teams. An HR course will be available soon.
MAISA and its members are working with MDE and the governor’s office to get a better understanding of technology resources currently available to students at home. MAISA’s Michigan Education Technology Leaders (METL) group is positioned to be able to take a look at connectivity now, while better information is gathered.
As of Monday, 36 ISDs responded to a survey from MAISA on statewide connectivity for students. See the results in MAISA’s daily update from Monday.
Know that members still have many questions about food services and online learning, 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 expect to make some progress on those negotiations this week, but no promises. We know clarity is important for you right now.
We continue to work closely with state agencies to track down information and answers. Please continue to let us know your questions 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 continue to work 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.