WFIS Covid-19 Resources

The latest information & policy related to private schools

Key Topics

Graduation

5.13.20

Graduation Guidelines

Schools need to know how to best support their seniors. With the onslaught of questions from high schools in the state, the Department of Health developed guidance. Here are the graduation guidelines.

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Create contingency plans to hold graduation and promotion ceremonies when it is safe to do so.

It is unlikely that traditional graduation ceremonies and promotion assemblies will be allowed this spring as convening large groups during this time is still inadvisable.  WFIS has asked Governor’s office for consideration and flexibility to convene school in some manner before the end of the academic year to bring communities back to gather to help remind families of the community they are invested in.

While there is a small chance that graduation ceremonies may be permissible for some smaller school communities in June, doing so may be perceived as a risk by many in your school community. Some parents will refuse to allow their children to participate and others will be angered by the fact that they are being required to make that choice.

What Schools Can Do Now About Graduation

    • Develop plans to hold virtual graduation ceremonies.
    • Develop the capability to webcast these events to allow family members to view the event.
    • Develop plans to equitably include medically fragile students who are graduating.
    • Create contingency plans but hold off on scheduling events until there is greater clarity on when and if these events will be allowable.
Summer Camps & Summer Learning
5.27.20
 
New Childcare, Day Camp and Youth Programming Guidance from the Washington State Department of Health has been posted today at this link:
 
Important things to note:
–          Any day camp the includes sports related activities must also follow forthcoming guidance for youth sports.
–          Not included in this guide:
  • Overnight Camps
  • Youth sports and athletics (example: leagues, recreation teams, clubs)
  • Activities included as part of K-12 basic education or special education programs
And a reminder that:
–          Schools are closed through June 19. Summer Day Camp and Youth Programming included in this guidance may begin on or after June 20.
–          The Safe Start plan for reopening Washington state does not address childcare or education.
–          Child care has remained open and may continue to operate.
 
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5.22.20 
 
Schools looking to offer summer camps after June 19th, should use the CDC Guidance for Schools & Day Camps in conjunction with updates from their local health authority when planning.  The American Camp Association also released this field guide for camps that gives detailed advice about activities popular at camps.
 
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5.13.20
 
There are two statewide work-groups developing guidelines and strategies for providing summer camps, with COVID-19 restrictions in mind, to all age-levels.
 
Schools looking to offer summer (seasonal) camps, after June 19th, may find the CDC Re-Opening Guidance information useful to both summer and fall program planning.
As soon as clear policy is put forth, WFIS will notify all private schools of the specifications.

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Options for Summer are expected to be clarified in May by the Governor.  WFIS has communicated to the Governor’s office ideas for private schools to offer safe summer learning, childcare and camps.

Current Guidelines on Use of School Buildings

The information below is part of OSPI’s BULLETIN NO. 031-20 EXECUTIVE SERVICES  In his April 6 extension of the school closure order through June 19, the Governor provided additional language allowing certain other activities within school facilities if they are deemed necessary and essential.  Based on the Governor’s proclamations, OSPI provided the following updated guidance regarding the use of school facilities:

 
Per the Governor’s directive, during mandatory closures, school districts are prohibited from providing in-person educational, recreational, and other K–12 school programs using their school buildings and facilities.
 
Districts will not be prevented from using their facilities to provide child care, for individual staff to remotely lead or develop content for professional learning or staff meetings, to hold Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings, to provide direct services to individual students, or for other activities deemed essential and necessary by the district administration. If districts determine that the use school facilities to provide educational services is essential and necessary under state or federal law, the following guidelines must be followed:
 
  1. Consistent with the timeline of the Governor’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy directive, no group meetings of staff, including for professional learning or staff meetings, should occur. School districts should utilize online, phone, or other alternatives to address this need. 
  2. Facilities should only be used for providing direct services to individual students where there is no alternative for the service delivery and both the service is necessary and essential AND the use of the facility is both necessary and essential. This is expected to be an unusual occurrence. 
  3. Facilities are not to be used for providing direct services to groups of students. 
  4. Any gatherings within school facilities must comply with applicable social distancing directives and health guidelines. Districts must continue to monitor and implement guidance from state and local health officials.
Preparing for School in Fall

5.22.20

Updating employee contracts and human resources amid Covid-19 will require new thinking.  Fisher Phillips has a webpage full of information for schools. Here is a link to their HR Considerations 

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5.13.20

WFIS was invited to participate on the OSPI Reopening Washington School 2020-21 Workgroup today.  The 6 hour meeting included breakout sessions to allow small groups to dive deeply into a set of scenarios of what an open school might look like next year.   The DOH described three potential virus patterns beginning in the fall as businesses start to open:

1. A spike in Sept/Oct that would close schools down.
2. A rolling high and low all year, which would stop and go schools all year.
3. A ’slow burn’ which is what we have now. Deaths/cases not slowing down dramatically and not improving dramatically.

We will continue the hard work of walking through the scenarios of opening schools with the public school group, while hosting our own conversations as a private school group. WFIS needs to be clear on how private schools will handle reopening. This will inform the advocacy we do to request independence (or not) from the Governor’s decisions about the public schools.

WFIS has established a work group of private school leaders who will walk through scenarios and think deeply about how private schools might open in the fall. These answers and conversations will inform our advocacy with Governor Inslee’s Office and OSPI.

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Questions to Consider for Reopening Your School

ACSI outlined a set of questions to consider while you plan to reopen your schools.  You may need to plan for “stops and starts” next year.
If this happens:
  • How will you do assessments with students?
  • Does distance learning become an optional path for all?
  • Should we continue formal education over the summer?
  • What about modified bus routes to accommodate fewer students?
  • Should meals be served in classrooms or in a staggered lunch schedule?
  • Should time that students spend on campus be staggered to accommodate social distancing?
  • Should there be a morning and afternoon shift?
  • Do we limit access to campus to students and teachers only, no parents, volunteers, or vendors?
  • How will we do ongoing and regular health screenings for staff and students?
  • Should we modify our policies for absences to encourage people with symptoms to stay home?
  • When will we send a student home and for how long?
  • What do athletics and other events look like?
  • What kind of PPE (personal protective equipment) should be used and by whom?
  • How will we increase our cleaning schedule and budget in order to sanitize effectively?
  • How do we do social distancing in transition times? enrichment classes? recess?
Early Learning & Childcare
5.15.20
 
Application portal is now open for the Child Care Development Block Grant’s CARE Act.
Here is the link to the DCYF Grant Portal. After you log in, select the Child Care COVID-19 Grant tab. For questions about logging in, go to DCYF.

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Friday May 11, the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) announced NEW support to child care providers under the Child Care Development Block Grant’s CARE Act.  This grant is available to any WA State licensed child care provider that is open and providing child care on the date of the grant application and intends to remain open through the end of July.  WFIS and other organizations remain dedicated to working with DCYF so that early learning providers attain the support critical to remain essential service providers during these difficult times.

Providers may apply to receive these one-time funds. An online application will be available in DCYF’s licensed provider portal WA Compass, hopefully by May 20.  In the application you’ll answer a series of questions, and you must complete the application in its entirety in one session.

A flat amount for each interested licensed provider that is open and providing service through July will be based on DCYF’s WA Compass and MERIT licensed capacity data below:

  • $6,500 to Small providers (0-49)
  • $11,500 to Medium providers (50-99)
  • $14,000 to Large providers (100-150+)

Funds can be spent on facility/space rent, personnel, utilities, health and safety/cleaning supplies and food.

Here is the link to the DCYF GovDelivery grant announcement and the link to DOH’s May 8th updated guidelines on Child Care During the Covid-19 Outbreak

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(post from late April 2020)

WFIS is working with our partners at the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the DOH to suggest safety measures that fit early education.  The Department of Health offers guidelines for keeping children and teachers safe at school. These guidelines can serve as a framework for programs to develop their own policies and best practices. It is suggested that schools create clear expectations and policies around safety for parents to agreement to before starting back. Contact your insurance provider and lawyer to understand whether not following the guidance would leave a school liable should anyone get sick.

Here are some highlights of the guidance to think about:

  1. Limit rooms to 10 occupants, children and staff included. Don’t mix groups of 10 people for any reason. Do your best to keep groups the same each day.
  2. Stagger things as much as possible. This includes outside play, eating, and drop-off and pick-up.
  3. Check-in procedures: staff should wear gloves during screening. Children’s temperature should be taken every day, either before they come to the school or by the parent/guardian when they arrive. In the absence of a thermometer from the parent/guardian, staff should provide a clean thermometer and check the child’s temperature by reaching around a protective barrier. Staff should ask questions about child and family health.
  4. Clean and sanitize hands-on materials often and after each use. Remove toys and materials that are hard to clean.
  5. Staff and older children should wear cloth face coverings if possible. Staff who need to hold toddlers and infants should wear long-sleeved, oversized outerwear when holding children and remove any clothes (staff or child’s) that get bodily fluids on it. Staff should was their hands and any other place the infant/toddler touched them while being held.

Here is a PDF of the DOH Guidance for Childcare during the Covid-19 Outbreak

CARES Act & PPP

5.22.20

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF)intended to support schools’ recovery from the current pandemic, will not reach most of WA State’s private schools.  WFIS was told the Office for the Superintendent of Public Instruction will not be following the federal guidelines for disbursement of these relief funds, and thus is denying most private schools in our state – those not previously designated Title I –  access to support.
 
WFIS will continue to work with Superintendent Chris Reykdal to establish a more equitable and supportive way to understand the current Cares Act Law.

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Update 5/1/20

This Guidance from the US Department of Education explains how the CARES Act Relief Funds will support private school students.  WFIS will be meeting with OSPI to clarify best next steps. It is likely that consultation between every private school and their local school district representative will begin quickly.

Small Business Loans

Schools are starting to receive PPP Loans.  Remember to keep careful records, place the money into its own bank account, and understand what your responsibilities are and what federal expectations you must abide by.  Congress also appropriated more funds for the low interest fixed-rate EIDL Loans available for schools and businesses for up to $2 million dollars.  EIDL can’t be used for anything that the PPP loan is covering. Contact your local lender for more information on this program.

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CARES Act Update 4/2/20

Federal Government support for our private schools will become more clear in the weeks ahead, but at this point in time the CARES ACT – Payroll Protection Program (PPP) with Loan Forgiveness is an avenue schools should actively be considering to pursue.  WFIS advises school leaders to:
  • Contact your bank about the PPP Loan program
  • Engage your Operations of Finance Leader in your school to access the needed data for Payroll Cost calculations.
  • Discuss this approach with your Board.
  • Stay in contact with WFIS and your constituency group leadership about this and other aspects of Governor’s Relief funds.

These pdf files will help guide you through the next steps:

Paycheck Protection Program Application

sba cares..reference documents

CARES Act PPP Calculation

Title Funds Support

Title Funds FAQ 4/12/20

Is participation in CARES ACT funding separate from the Private Participation in Federal Programs application that was due April 30?

Yes, they are different, but similar.  Participation in the CARES Act should not be dependent on participation in Federal Title Funds, which was due in April.
 
The guidance for the CARES Act and how the funds should be distributed came out last week, but is being challenged by the Chiefs of State.  If the government decides to change the guidance, then the rules may change.  They have a year to work out the dispute and distribute the funds.  As the guidance stands now, private schools are included in the relief funds and participation is NOT dependent on a school’s indication they want to participate in Federal Programs.

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Title Funds Update 4/6/20

WFIS is working with OSPI Ombuds advocating for as much flexibility in use of current ESEA and soon to be delivered Education Stabilization Funds as possible.

WA State is going to submit the waiver application granting flexibility as described in today’s announcement from Secretary Devos, but clarity on the aspects that will be used in our State have yet to be determined.

The Covid-19 Virus is a public health issue so similar to a natural disaster and therefore it is expected to qualify schools for applying a carryover in any of the areas of the Title Funds.  Whether a written petition is needed to apply for this carryover will be determined in the week(s) to come.

 

Private School Approval & Waivers
5.22.20
 
At the May 2020 State Board of Education meeting, private schools that completed their re-approval / approval application by the April 15th deadline were approved for the 2020-21 academic year.  A handful of private schools still need to complete their Approval Application to be operational in September.  Go here: https://www.sbe.wa.gov/our-work/private-schools/private-school-approval to complete your schools application no later than June 15th!
 
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The deadline for Private School Approval Applications was extended to April 15, 2020. Schools that submitted their completed application by April 15 will have their approval addressed at the May 2020 State Board of Education meeting.  As of April 20th SBE reported that 410 private schools had submitted their approval applications – thank you!  More information about the approval process may be found on State Board of Education private school approval web page.

If your school has not completed the application yet, please do ASAP.

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The State Board of Education passed Emergency Rules on Waivers that directly relate to private schools. Section 180-111-050 Emergency waiver for private schools outlines the following rules:
  • Authorize private schools to waive credit-based graduation requirements for individual students who were on-track to graduate by the end of the 2019-20 school year.
  • Releases private schools from the requirement of providing a certain number of days or instructional hours for the 2019-20 school year.
  • Permits private schools that were approved in 2019-20 to start the 2020-21 school year as online-only schools if the school determines it is necessary.
  • Requires that private schools notify the State Board of Education of the use of these provisions.

Private schools that use either waiver need to complete this quick 7-question Emergency Waiver Notification 2020 before the end of September 2020.  Additionally, SBE has posted a FAQ page addressing the emergency rules & waivers for private schools.

 
IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND
  • If your school has been providing students continuous education through online methods since the Governor’s shutdown, there is no need to use a waiver of instructional hours / days. If your graduating seniors participate in your online education and you deem them having successfully learned / completed the required material, there is no need to use a waiver of graduation requirements.
  • End-of-school dates are at the discretion of each private school.  Each school is responsible for the progression of learning for each of their students.  Because no school has been able to do these days/hours in person, those without online programs will need a waiver.  Those schools offering online learning will not need a waiver.
  • The notification requirement is intended to report data back to the legislators on the emergency law that they passed.

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From 3/27/20

The State Legislature passed a new law (EHB 2965) supporting the state’s response to the novel coronavirus. This law includes a provision (see Section 10) that allows the State Board of Education grant an emergency waiver to local education agencies (e.g., school districts, etc.) and private schools. The waiver will provide flexibility so students in the graduating Class of 2020 or earlier who were on track to graduate are not held back by school closures due to the novel coronavirus.

Under the emergency waiver program, the State Board of Education may waive credit-based graduation requirements in addition to school day and instructional hour requirements for private schools. The law does not require an application for the private schools’ waiver.
 
The State Board of Education is working with partners to review different scenarios and considerations to ensure the program rules effectively support students, schools, and communities. The Board vote to adopt emergency rules is scheduled for the 8th.  If all goes according to schedule, the draft rules will be available for review by the public on April 6, with the deadline for public comment on the rules due the next day.

Grading & Transcripts

May 14, 2020

 
It was suggested that all transcripts indicate the circumstances of COVID-19 with an explanation of the decision your Superintendent made about grading. 

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State Superintendent Chris Reykdal has shared the OSPI Guidance on Grading that may be useful to private schools in developing their own policies.

The emergency rules that OSPI is adopting require schools to provide a letter grade or an ‘incomplete’ on transcripts. There will be no pass/fail or ‘no credit’ designation, and it will be impossible for students to receive and “F” grade. The intent of these rules is to do no harm to students and accommodate for inequities that are exacerbated by online learning systems. An ‘incomplete’ designation will be assigned for students that “cannot engage [in coursework] in an equitable way”. For students that receive an ‘incomplete’, the Superintendent Chris Reykdal explained in his debriefing video, “it’s not a fail, it doesn’t hurt the GPA, it’s not a withdraw, it’s not a no credit, it’s a sort of pause.” Students will have a chance to complete the class and earn a grade through a variety of options:

  • Summer school
  • Online courses
  • Independent study
  • Competency-based courses
  • Backfilling grades from the grade of the next course taken in the subject area
  • Courses in the next term or year

In addition to the grading policy, OSPI has also announced that all high school transcripts will have a designator that means the class was taken during the COVID-19 school closures. This is meant to ease stress about future evaluations of transcripts for students.

These are the bullet points they’re giving:

Grades 9–12 and middle school students taking credit-bearing high school level work will be graded using the following principles:

    1. Do no harm!
    2. Every student will get an opportunity to improve their grade with their March 17 status as a baseline.
    3. No student will receive a “pass,” “fail,” or “no credit” grade for any course.
    4. Teachers will assign grades or assign an “incomplete” for students that cannot engage in an equitable way.
    5. Every class taken during the closure period will be given a statewide designator on the high school transcript to denote the unique environment in which the course was taken.
    6. Students assigned an “incomplete” for a course will be given opportunities to re-engage in the learning standards based on local school district decisions in consultation with the student/parents/guardians, including but not limited to:
      • Summer school,
      • Courses in the following term or year,
      • Independent study,
      • Competency-based courses,
      • Online courses, or
      • Backfilling the incomplete grade with the letter grade obtained in the next course taken in that subject area.
    7. All students will be given an opportunity to engage in continuous learning to maintain or improve their mastery of essential standards.

https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources

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Higher Ed

The Washington Colleges and Universities are committed to holding harmless the seniors for their transcripts this year, but have not come out with a unified position on how underclassmen’s transcripts will be viewed in the admissions process.  This is understandably making students, parents and school counselors very nervous.

WFIS continues to meet with higher ed leadership weekly.  Here is a link to a joint statement by WA Council of Presidents and the Independent Colleges of WA: https://councilofpresidents.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Fall-2020-Admission-Statement.pdf

Testing

To keep students safe, and in alignment with public health guidance and school closures across 192 countries, the College Board Administration will not be able to administer the SAT or SAT Subject Tests on June 6, 2020.  Students can transfer their June registration to a 2020-21 administration when registration opens for 2020-21 test dates.  Students will be emailed on the evening of Thursday, May 28 with more information. Eligible students can register with a fee waiver.

Fall 2020 SAT Dates:
  • August 29
  • September 26
  • October 3
  • November 7
  • December 5

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In person AP exams cancelled

Traditional face-to-face AP exam administrations will not take place for the 2019-2020 academic year.  For the 2019–20 exam administration only, students can take a 45-minute online exam at home. There will be 2 different testing dates for each AP subject.

New at-home testing option. Additional details are now available around exam features, time and tasks, scores, and security.  LEARN MORE

Students will be able to take these streamlined exams on any device they have access to—computer, tablet, or smartphone. Taking a photo of handwritten work will also be an option.

Beginning on Wednesday, March 25, you can attend free, live AP review courses, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. These courses:

  • Are optional, mobile-friendly, and can be used alongside any work your teacher may give you.
  • Will be available on-demand, so you can access them any time.
  • Will focus on reviewing the skills and concepts from the first 75% of the course. There will also be some supplementary lessons covering the final 25% of the course.

Updates: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/about-ap/news-changes/coronavirus-update?excmpid=FB-ED-CB-1

Remote Learning Resources:

https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/coronavirus-updates#free-ap-classes

Construction Projects

Governor Inslee’s March 25 guidance that construction related to essential activities “to further a public purpose related to a public entity or governmental function or facility” applies to both public and private school buildings.  Your construction projects can continue but must follow the mandates of Covid-19 health practices and social distancing.

The guidance memo can be found HERE

WFIS at Work

As WFIS responds to Covid-19 questions from private schools, we’ll post answers and where ever possible provide links to appropriate resources.

If you have a question that is not being resolved, please contact us directly, and we’ll do our best to get you an accurate answer.

WFIS Email Updates during Covid-19

WFIS Update 5/29/20

We made it to the weekend everyone!  WFIS Update for 5.29.20 is available when you have a few moments. 

Questions, comments or requests?  Reach us HERE

WFIS Update 5/22/20

Read the weekly WFIS Update 5.22.20   Have questions, comments and requests?   Reach us HERE

WFIS Update 5/15/20

The WFIS Update 5.15.20 covers topics shared at today’s Zoom meeting for those who could not make it.  

Have a great weekend everyone.

Questions, comments and requests can be sent to us HERE

WFIS Update 5/8/20

The WFIS Update 5.8.2020 includes:

Questions, comments and requests can be sent to us HERE

WFIS Update 5/1/20

Read our email Update 5.1.2020 which includes information on certification extensions, childcare guidelines from DOH, precautions with Small Business loans, and more.

Questions, comments and request can be sent to us HERE

WFIS Update 4/24/20

Read our email Update 4.24.20

Questions, comments and request can be sent to us HERE

WFIS Update 4/15/20
This week WFIS emailed two important messages to all private schools, both included a reminder regarding annual approval applications being by April 15th.

WFIS Update 4.15.20 Two Application Deadlines, Similar Due Dates and WFIS Weekly Update 4.14.20 with details on GEER, the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

GEER is a flexible “emergency block grant” Governors can tap that is designed to support all kinds of schools and other education-related organizations.  GEER funds must provide equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools in the same manner as provided under section 1117 of the ESEA, as determined through timely and meaningful consultation with representatives of non-public schools.  The Federal Education Department is planning to provide additional information to States and sub-recipients on the GEER funds, including guidance on this equitable services requirement.

Some good news!  We heard from the Governor’s Office today that the guidance given to public schools about continuing construction and facility work was meant to include private schools, as well.  

 

Please let us know if you would like to be adde to our contact list for future communication HERE

Launch of Covid-19 Resource Page for WA Private Schools
Dear Private School Community Members,

On this page, WFIS will share information, answer questions, and connect you to model communication with parents.

Know you are part of a community of educators who are also dealing with the hardships of this crisis.  The decision-making, tracking down accurate information, following the news, and keeping up with what other schools are doing is taking up a lot of time and creating much stress.  We hope this webpage will help.

Should you have any specific questions about this content contact us.  WFIS seeks your insight to grow support for our private school communities.

 
With Care,
Suzie
 
 
Suzie Hanson, Executive Director of WFIS

DeVos Demands Public Schools Share Pandemic Aid With Private Institutions

“The CARES Act is a special, pandemic-related appropriation to benefit all American students, teachers and families, …There is nothing in the act suggesting Congress intended to discriminate between children based on public or nonpublic school attendance, … The virus affects everyone.”