LA Department of Education secure policy waivers in school closures

 

Following Gov. John Bel Edwards’s emergency proclamation to close all public schools to students March 16 through April 13 to slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) today secured initial waivers for various education policies to provide schools and centers increased regulatory flexibilities ahead of, during and beyond the closure period, as well as supplied them with updated guidance and resources.

LDOE also provided additional information to early child care centers and providers that remain open for business. Child care centers are not included in the executive order. They have been encouraged to make closure decisions in coordination with their local public health contacts.

“Today LDOE took additional steps toward supporting schools and centers by securing waivers that grant them increased regulatory flexibilities and by sharing updated guidance and resources,” said Acting State Superintendent Beth Scioneaux. “As we move forward, we remain committed to prioritizing the safety of our students, staff and school communities, and we appreciate our many partners for their support as we navigate this extraordinary time.

Policy Waivers:

The LDOE today requested an initial round of waivers of various education policies set by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) to support school systems and early child care centers impacted by the COVID-19 public health emergency. The length of time each waiver is in effect varies depending on the needs of educators, students, and children.

The waivers were today approved by BESE President Sandy Holloway, who has the authority to make ad hoc decisions for the board in times of emergency. The decisions are subject to ratification by the board at its next regular meeting.

Among the highlights, waivers approved today provide flexibilities related to the:
  • Required number of annual instructional minutes to ensure students do not have to make up days missed, as well as the required instructional minutes to obtain course credit;
  • Number of observations required for educators’ evaluations; and
  • Child Care Assistance Program, in order to maximize dollars to support families and centers.

Guidance and Resources

In addition to securing the aforementioned waivers, the LDOE today hosted webinars to provide updated guidance and resources to school systems and centers and answer outstanding questions.
Among the key guidance and resources, the LDOE shared:
  • Flexibilities to provide meals to children 18 years and under during the extended closure;
  • Information about Internet access for students, including free or reduced-cost packages;
  • Existing resources to support at-home learning, and information about additional resources to soon be released;
  • Updates regarding state and national assessments and accountability measures; and
  • Surveys to inform next steps.
Additional guidance and resources will be directly communicated to school and center leaders, as well as posted to  the LDOE’s dedicated COVID-19 page on its website on an ongoing basis.

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