Updated: May 21
The Florida House Majority Office is publishing a series of sector-specific resource blog posts and downloadable documents to aid constituents in understanding the support available to them during the coronavirus crisis. This post contains information and resources for educators and students. Download the PDF version here.
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
The CARES Act allows states and school districts to redirect and devote more of their federal resources to technology infrastructure to support distance learning for students and for professional development for teachers who are teaching remotely.
Nearly $31 billion for the U.S. Department of Education
Education Stabilization Fund: Flexible funding to states, local school districts, and institutions of higher education to help schools, students, teachers, and families with immediate needs related to coronavirus
$13.5 billion for elementary and secondary education – Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER Funds)
$14.25 billion for higher education – Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF)
$3 billion in state flexibility funding – Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERF)
$3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant
$1.7 billion total CARES Act funding for Florida education:
GEERF - Florida’s share is one of the top in the nation for state flexibility funding at about $173.6 million
Funds are to be used at the Governor’s discretion to meet the current needs of students, elementary and secondary schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions and other education-related organizations in the state.
Applications are due to US DOE no later than June 1, 2020.
ESSER Fund – Florida’s share is $770.2 million for Florida K-12 schools
ESSER funds must be allocated in proportion of the funds received under Title I, Part A of the 2019 Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Applications are due to US DOE no later than July 1, 2020.
Funds are to be used by school districts to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools.
No less than 90% of funding must be allocated to school districts, including charter schools that are local education agencies.
No more than 10% of funding may be retained by FL DOE for emergency needs.
HEERF – Over $760 million for Florida institutions of higher education
Funding will be awarded to institutions based on a formula stipulated in the legislation.
Child Care and Development Block Grant – Florida’s share is $223.6 million to help low-income families access child care/school readiness services.
Funds will be distributed to the Office of Early Learning for allocation to the early learning coalitions.
For more information, visit https://oese.ed.gov/offices/education-stabilization-fund/ and https://oese.ed.gov/files/2020/04/ESSER-Fund-State-Allocations-Table.pdf
Student Loan Relief
All borrowers with federally held student loans will automatically have interest rates set to 0% through September 30, 2020.
Each borrower has the option to suspend their payments for at least two months during the national emergency — without worrying about accruing interest.
The Department has also authorized an automatic suspension of payments for any borrower more than 31 days delinquent as of March 13, 2020, or who becomes more than 31 days delinquent — essentially giving borrowers a safety net during the national emergency.
Free & Reduced Lunches
FoodFinder is a national nonprofit with a website and mobile app (“FoodFinder – Fighting Hunger”) that shows low-income families when and where to get nutritious free food from their closest food pantry.
For more information, visit https://foodfinder.us/
Summer Food Service Program (SFSP)/ National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option (SSO) requires flexibilities that would allow schools, child care institutions, and community organizations to provide meals to low-income children through the Summer Food Service Program or National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option during school closures related to the novel coronavirus disease.
For more information, visit https://www.fns.usda.gov/sfsp/covid-19-meal-delivery
Broad Flexibilities for States to Cancel Testing During National Emergency
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved waivers for all 50 states to cancel federally mandated standardized testing in response to school closures from COVID-19 for the 2019-2020 school year.
For more information, visit https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/helping-students-adversely-affected-school-closures-secretary-devos-announces-broad-flexibilities-states-cancel-testing-during-national-emergency?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term=
Deadline Extensions for States
The U.S. Department of Education has provided additional time and flexibility for States to submit their Perkins V State Plans, which were previously due on April 15, 2020.
This allows for states to develop career and technical education plans, and focus on serving students during the COVID-19 outbreak.
For more information visit, https://cte.ed.gov/cal/perkins-v-state-plans-due-april-15-2020
2020 Advanced Placement (AP) Exams
2020 AP Exams will be taken from home, beginning May 11 through May 22, 2020. AP scores will be released beginning about July 15, 2020.
For more information, visit: https://apcoronavirusupdates.collegeboard.org/educators/taking-the-exams
Florida Department of Education (FL DOE)
Governor DeSantis issued Emergency Order 2020-01 requiring all school districts, private scholarship schools, state colleges, and career, technical and adult education services shift to non-classroom/virtual teaching methods.
For more information, see www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/DOEORDERNO2020-EO-01.pdf
Governor DeSantis created the Re-Open Florida Taskforce Industry Working Group on Administrative, Education, Information and Technology, Manufacturing, Mining, Utilities, and Wholesale, led by state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran.
All K-12 school campuses will remain closed through the remainder of the school year, June 3, 2020.
All state college and university campuses will remain closed through the 2020 spring semester.
State colleges and district technical colleges will continue remote operations through the first summer sessions, which begin in May and June. Some will have targeted, limited in-person learning and training for certain CTE programs.
Most state universities have reported they will continue classes via online learning through Summer C.
All remaining assessments for school readiness, voluntary pre-K and K-12 assessments are waived for the 2019-2020 school year. Requirements for graduation and final course grades will be evaluated without these assessments.
K-12 school grades will not be calculated for 2019-2020 and schools in turnaround may continue their current status for 2020-2021 to avoid disruption to school leadership and operations.
All school districts have implemented their instructional continuity plans. Parents and students should visit their school district website for more information on that specific instructional continuity plan.
FL DOE waived exam fees for teacher-certification testing requirements from April 1 to July 31 and granted an extension to test takers who were unable to take an exam due to closed test-site locations. Beginning May 20, exam fees will no longer be waived, as the voucher limit has been reached.
32,624 laptops have been purchased and distributed for 34 mostly small, rural school districts.
FL DOE offers weekly webinars to provide technical assistance to stakeholders, such as early learning providers, blind-services providers, CTE programs, and instructional continuity for public and private school instruction of students with special needs.
FCS and private institutions statewide have donated more than 130 ventilators typically used in medical training programs to local hospitals, community medical centers, and other facilities.
For recent updates and additional information, visit www.fldoe.org/em-response/
On May 13, 2020, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued Emergency Order 2020-02 to alleviate guidelines, expand childcare eligibility, and provide school districts and teachers greater flexibility moving forward:
EO 2020-02 extends an expiration deadline for renewing teacher certifications from June 30 to December 31, 2020.
It suspends the need for schools to conduct teacher and administrator evaluations for the 2019-2020 school year, leaving guidelines on performance-based salary schedules up to each respective school district.
It also extends various deadlines and procedural requirements relating to reading plans and, subject to federal approval, for special education, English Language Learners (ELL) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR).
It suspends reporting requirements related to instructional materials certification and testing requirements for dual enrollment for courses taken through December 31, 2020.
The EO suspends the 20-hour per week work or educational requirement for school readiness, expanding eligibility for childcare services for families seeking employment.
For more information visit: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/DPSEO-Webinar513.pdf
As school districts and colleges transition to online education, several companies have offered their services at no cost or reduced rates.
AT&T’s offer specifically covers households participating in the National School Lunch Program and Head Start.
Teachers may also receive free or discounted rates on certain teaching applications, such as Adobe, Newslea, and Zoom.
For a list of companies offering services at no cost/discounted rates, visit www.fldoe.org/em-response/distance-learning.stml#virtual
For families seeking online learning resources for young learners, see www.fldoe.org/em-response/resources-families.stml
Florida Education Foundation
The Florida Education Foundation has provided an opportunity for school districts, traditional public schools, public charter schools, and nonprofits to apply for innovation mini-grants up to $5,000 to support Distance Learning through innovative initiatives and strategies.
For more information, visit www.floridaeducationfoundation.org/mini-grants
Free & Reduced Lunches
The Summer BreakSpot program has been activated to connect students with meals during school campus closures.
Floridians can text FLKIDSMEALS to 211-211 to find the closest participating Summer BreakSpot location with meals available. Residents can also call 211 to speak with a live operator for additional information.
Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner issued Emergency Rule 5PER2-2, which extends the deadlines for sponsors participating in the National School Lunch Program to appeal agency action that may be issued against them by the Department in the coming weeks.
The extended deadlines are to allow sponsors the extra time needed to comply with recommendations for social distancing when responding to the agency action and to allow the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to safely hold hearings at a later date.
For more information on the Summer BreakSpot program visit www.summerbreakspot.org/
Florida Virtual School (FLVS)
FLVS has made 100 digital courses available to all state K-12 schools for free.
FLVS is dramatically expanding services to create a safety net that could serve more than 2.7 million students by early May, should that be necessary.
Mental Health Services
FL DOE is providing guidance to school districts to enhance student access to mental health services, so that students can continue to have one-on-one time with their social worker, school psychologist, counselor, or school nurse on a virtual platform.
School mental health workers are ensuring that all of Florida’s students are getting the support they need to be successful in the classroom through virtual counseling settings.
Child Care Services
The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Early Learning (OEL), in coordination with local early learning coalitions, has prioritized and increased access to child care services for first responders and health care professionals.
OEL has created a referral process, in partnership with employers and statewide early learning coalitions to swiftly provide priority access and expedited referrals for children of first responders and health care professionals.
First responders and health care workers needing help finding a child care provider should contact their local early learning coalition for assistance. To find a map of Early Learning Providers throughout the state, visit www.floridaearlylearning.com/family-resources/find-quality-child-care/locate-your-early-learning-coalition
These services will be authorized for three months from April 20, and the continued need for child care will be reevaluated prior to the end of services.