WFIS Updates related to our private schools
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.
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.
Please let us know if you would like to be adde to our contact list for future communication HERE
WFIS Update 4/9/20
Today WFIS emailed the following update to all private school leaders and educators who have asked to receive our communication.
Didn’t get the email but wish you could? Have feedback on the information WFIS provided? Other questions you are looking for support with?
Let us know HERE
Governor's school closure & Private Schools 4/7/20
Washington State’s private school communities are deeply saddened by the Governor’s declaration that all schools will be closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Private schools have demonstrated their commitment to protecting public health during this pandemic. Our communities are still learning even though our campuses are closed!
Private schools are working around the clock to offer students academic – as well as social, emotional, and spiritual – support and guidance at a distance. There is intense dedication and an abundance of creativity at the teaching level. Students are gaining important knowledge and building strong relationships. Parents are continuing to support their schools and communities. Private schools are doing distance learning well!
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.
Early Learning Provider information as of 3/29/20
All early learning providers need to call their licensor to let them know if they are/ or have closed their program.
CARES Act details for Early Learning
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act goes into effect April 1, and remains in effect through December 31, 2020. Two key provisions that pertain to schools are Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law on March 27th. There are several key provisions that can support and impact schools, child-care centers and their employees including Small Business Administration loans, expanded unemployment benefits, and relief to schools.
- $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to ensure continued payment and assistance to child care providers and to support child care for essential workers; Estimated state allocations for Washington for CCDBG is $ 56,813,048.
- $750 million in grants for Head Start, including up to $500 million for support of summer programs.
- Access to small business loans of up to $10 million that can be forgiven, if programs use the loans for specific purposes such as wages, paid sick or family leave, health insurance benefits, retirement benefits, mortgages or rent, or utilities.
- Direct payments to qualifying taxpayers of up to $1,200 ($2,400 for couples), plus an additional $500 per child.
- Access to a pandemic unemployment insurance benefit for four months, on top of the regular unemployment insurance benefit offered by states to qualifying individuals.
- Suspension of payments on federally-held student loans to support the many early childhood educators earning their degrees and credentials.
- Both non-profit and for-profit child care providers with less than 500 employees will be eligible to apply for small business loans of which 8 weeks of payroll, mortgage/rent & utility payments, are eligible for loan forgiveness. Midsize and large child care providers may receive federal loan assistance through the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Act.
- An additional $20 billion in funding for the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, which allows states to award funds to early childhood education programs and services.
WFIS update on PPP loans for Private Schools 4/2/20
- 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:
“It is not clear whether taking the forgivable SBA loans will mean assuming status as a recipient of federal financial assistance (and all the strings that potentially come with that). We are working on the Administration on this issue, we don’t want schools to become recipients of federal financial assistance if they take these funds. But we don’t have answers yet. I’ll definitely keep everyone apprised. As far as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, that should be safe since it’s handled through the equitable services approach.”
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.
Guidance on Policy & Communication
Federal & State Agency messages
OSPI guidelines on Use of School Buildings 4/8/20
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Facilities are not to be used for providing direct services to groups of students.
- 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.
SBE passes Emergency Rules on Waivers 4/8/20
- applies to 2019-20 State Approved private schools
- providing them the ability to implement a waiver of graduation requirements,
- permits online education as defined by RCW 28A.195.090 to have met the instructional hour requirements,
- waives the instructional hours and days requirement,
- and requires that “each private school shall notify the state board of education in a format provided by the board whether the private school is waiving requirements”.
- If your school has been providing students continuous education through online methods, 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. The State would like schools to stay true to the 180 days/ 1000 hours if possible. 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. All schools are allowed to keep their end-of-school date.
- The notification requirement process has not been determined yet, but will be developed with input from private schools. The legislators will want to know how many schools needed the waiver. The State Board of Education is considering what other information the legislators may want and will include that in the notification request for private schools. There has been no timeline set, as of this post.
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.
3/24 NEW federal provisions on Paid Sick Leave & FMLA
Last night Congress passed, and the president signed, a coronavirus aid package that includes provisions on paid sick leave and FMLA. Attached below are summaries from Fisher & Phillips and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops that might be helpful.
3/17 SBE Deadline for Private School Approval Applications Extended
The deadline for private school approval applications is extended from April 1 to April 15, 2020. Schools that complete and submit their application by April 15 will have their approval addressed at the May 2020 State Board of Education Meeting. More information about the approval process may be found on State Board of Education private school approval web page.
Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Transcripts: What are colleges allowing?
There is much discussion locally and nationally about grades for seniors this spring and for underclassmen. The fear is that a student will be negatively impacted in the admissions process for anything but a standard grade.
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.
Across the country institutions of higher education are making determinations about how to deal with the unusual transcripts. The initial information we received is that GRADES will be view more positively than pass/fail for underclassmen. However, we await word whether this will hold true.
Let us know what you have heard on this topic. 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
How are schools going to provide 180 days/ 1000 hours if closed for 2 weeks? And if a school falls short, what happens?
WFIS is confident that the State Board is working with us and will be realistic in the face of this crisis. Parents, however, will expect, and paid for, private schools to live up to this law.
Many schools are crafting plans to use online platforms. Others are planning to open during spring break and/or to extend their daily hours of operation, even preemptively starting next week. Some private schools have extra hours or days in their current schedules; a two-week closure will have little impact.
The State Board would like private schools to use OSPI’s guidelines:
“Districts should feel confident in knowing that if schools are closed for an extended period of time, they will not be required to make up missed days and instructional hours beyond June 19.”
Distance Learning platforms in English and other languages:
Where can private schools get legal insight on Covid-19 issues?
What Schools Can Do
In person AP exams cancelled
Posted by a College Board peer re: AP exams
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.
Remote Learning Resources:
Communicate to parents more than you think is necessary and have accurate information and a plan. Parents want to know you are in the know and whether or not you are planning on closing their school. Have a plan for what your school will do to continue the education of its students when/if the school is closed for 2 weeks or longer.
Employee Compensation for Schools
Private schools should consider the following in determining their employee compensation in their decision making:
- The ADA and WLAD are still operative until a public health emergency or pandemic is declared. When dealing with ill employees, address symptoms or exposure, not diagnoses, in determining if an employee should go home.
- Being generous with sick leave will encourage exposed and ill employees to quarantine and is in the best interest of public safety. You may choose to adopt a temporary Public Safety policy.
- An employee who chooses to self-quarantine who has not been exposed, is not in a high risk group, or caring for a family member who is, may be required to use any available non-medical leave, such as regular PTO.
- An employee who is quarantined because of exposure, is in a high risk group, or is caring for someone who is, should be able to access health care leave benefits. Schools may adopt a temporary Public Safety policy to this effect. Whether the employee can access PFML is not a decision in the school’s control.
- An employee who is ill or caring for a family member who is ill should be able to access all available leave.
If the school chooses to close and teach remotely:
- If employees are teaching remotely or otherwise providing service to the school, this is work and they are entitled to be paid.
- If employees are ill and not teaching remotely or performing other school related services, they should access available leave pay.
This is a general advisory only and any individual decisions should be made in consultation with your lawyer. Additionally, expect to see rapid changes in guidance and response as the situation evolves. Now that a pandemic has been declared ‘force majeure clauses‘ are valid. Check your policy handbooks and with your legal counsel & insurance broker regarding business interruption coverage.
Learning from Home
Zoom 'How-To’s' for Educators
Review the following videos and documents to help students and teachers get up and running with Zoom:
- Zoom 101: Sign-up and Download
- Zoom 101: In Meeting Controls
- Comprehensive Guide for Educating through Zoom
- Tips & Tricks for Teachers Educating on Zoom
The week of March 30th, Zoom released two updates to their system specifically focused on student protection and support for educators to ensure safe & appropriately controlled environments:
- Virtual Waiting Room – Starting April 2nd, the Waiting Room feature will be automatically turned on by default. For more information on adjusting your Waiting Room settings, click here. This security enhancement is one of the best ways to control who’s entering your Zoom virtual classroom by giving you the option to admit participants individually or all at once. Watch this quick video breaking down how to admit participants from your waiting room into the meeting. Watch Now →
Zoom has a blog where users highlight some best practices for securing virtual classrooms. Read Blog →
Equity in Teaching: some things to consider
- How can uniformity between teachers at same grade level be implemented in the lessons offered to students?
- What is the standard of care expected from teachers at every level?
- What kind and how often will teachers have direct contact with students?
- How will teachers be informed or included in decision-making about expectations?
- How will teachers be accountable for student learning/outcomes;
- How will clear expectations be communicated and re-communicated to parents about distance learning plan?
- Regular administration communication with parents;
- Can the school communicate the expectation that parents need to continue to pay tuition so that teachers can be paid?
- Will the school pay for hourly staff while school closed?
Internet access for students
Does your school have an account with Verizon ? If so, these are easy to add for little cost. Verizon Jetpack is a unique 4G LTE mobile hotspot from Verizon offering a solution to the problem. Jetpack allows users to connect with up to 15 devices Wi-Fi enabled, from Smartphones, Tablets to Laptops.
Comcast Increases Access to ‘Internet Essentials’ through Coronavirus Pandemic
- Speeds will increase from 15/2 MBPS to 25/3 for all new and existing customers, and will become the speed of the service going forward.
- New families who connect will get 60 days of Internet service for free.
- The Internet Essentials program is normally available to all qualified low-income households in Comcast’s service area for $9.95/month.
Being a distance student is different
Try to imagine what this change will be like for your students. Gone is the closeness of friends, of easily getting together for group projects, study sessions, conversations and discussions. Gone is their ability to meet with teachers after class for extra help, or to ask a follow-up question. Everything now will be mediated by a computer screen and time management and the vagaries of internet connection. Students may or may not function well in an online environment so being prepared around some of their challenges is important. Additionally, when not in school, some students may be tempted to do other things than school work, so managing student motivation and attendance can become an issue—it is easy to fall behind, especially with asynchronous distance learning models.
- Some things you might consider:
- Holding a focus group with students to understand their fears and what they will find challenging.
- How to engage students so they do not feel isolated. Could you create things like a virtual lunchroom, or study halls? How about group email forums for grades and/or classes?
- Clarity around expectations for submitting work: what format should be used and how should it be organized so the teacher can make sense of what a student has submitted? Imagine receiving a final paper assignment as 15 one-page PDF files out of order per student per a class of 20 students—mayhem.
- In what format will a student receive feedback, and how can you be sure they understand what you have communicated? Expect to do a lot more writing to explain or help students understand a concept. Doing screencasts can be useful.
- What are the expectations for class participation (group or individually)?
- Will you have office hours for teachers, and how will students understand how to contact a teacher?
- Will you be offering student support services (school counselor role); if so, how?
- If a student falls behind in work, or does not show up to virtual class, what will you do?
- Offering some general rules around video chats (use of video or just audio, what are they wearing, what is in the background, background noise, etc.)