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COVID-19 Resource Series | Education



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.

FEDERAL RESOURCES


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 Fund)

  • $14.25 billion for higher education Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEER Fund)

  • $3 billion in state flexibility funding Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund)

  • $3.5 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant

$1.7 billion total CARES Act funding for Florida education:

  • GEER Fund - 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.

  • On September 21, 2020, First Lady DeSantis announced $2 million will be made available for 18 rural school districts to improve access to school-based mental health services.

  • For more information visit: https://www.flgov.com/2020/09/21/first-lady-casey-desantis-announces-2-million-for-rural-schools-to-expand-student-telehealth-services/

  • 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).

  • 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.

  • HEER Fund 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


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

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.

2020 Advanced Placement (AP) Exams


FLORIDA RESOURCES


Florida Department of Education (FL DOE)

  • Governor DeSantis issued Emergency Order (EO) 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.

  • EO 2020-04 seeks to provide summer VPK program providers with greater flexibility by:

  • Cancelling all 2020 summer VPK assessments

  • Reducing the minimum number of summer instructional hours public schools and private VPK providers must offer from 300 to 200 hours

  • Authorizing a private school administrator who holds a valid certificate in educational leadership to satisfy the requirement for a Pre-K director credential.

  • For more information visit: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/2020-EO-04.pdf

  • EO 2020-05 provides students with different pathways to meet eligibility requirements for different Bright Futures Scholarship awards by:

  • Providing families and students with needed flexibility to satisfy volunteer hour requirements.

  • Extending the date a student must take the ACT, SAT, or any other allowable test that may determine scholarship eligibility from June 30 to July 31.

  • For more information see: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/2020-EO-05.pdf

  • All K-12 school campuses will remain closed through the remainder of the school year, June 3, 2020.

  • 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.

  • On June 8th, US DOE granted Florida's request to use federal grants from the Charter Schools Program (CSP) to bolster remote learning at charter schools struggling from COVID-19.

  • For more information visit: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-awards-65-million-create-and-expand-public-charter-schools-areas-greatest-need

  • 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

On July 6th, 2020, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran issued Emergency Order 2020-06 requiring the following:

  • Assurance 1: All school districts and charter schools must reopen physical campuses in August at least five days per week for all students. The EO does not mandate that every student return to a school campus environment 5 days a week.

  • The EO requires school districts and charter school governing boards to submit a re-opening plan to receive flexibility and continuity of funding.

  • School districts and private schools that accept scholarship students must submit a reopening plan to FL DOE. Charter school governing boards must submit a reopening plan to the sponsoring district.

  • All Reopening Plans are due to FL DOE by July 31, 2020.

  • Assurance 2: Full array of services that are required by law must be provided.

  • Assurance 3: Progress monitoring must be extended to all students in the same district or charter school; tiered support must be provided to all students who are not making adequate progress.

  • Assurance 4 and 5: Students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs) and English Language Learners (ELL) must be given necessary services, as their skills may have regressed during school closures.

  • School districts must extend the same flexibility in instructional methods to every charter school that submits a reopening plan to the sponsoring district.

  • School districts must agree to Assurances, submit a Reopening Plan and receive FL DOE approval to secure funding for the fall.

  • The EO does not implement policies or mandate regulation which endanger medically vulnerable student or teacher populations.

  • For more information visit: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/2020-EO-06-SlideDeck.pdf

As of August 31, 2020, FL DOE claims all 74 brick and mortar Florida school districts are open with some form of in-person instruction. Miami-Dade and Broward Counties have in-person instruction for persons with disabilities only. This count also excludes Florida Virtual School, as it remains entirely online and they do not offer in-person instruction.

On September 1, 2020, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-212 that extends the deadline for students graduating in the 2019-20 school year to earn the minimum qualifying SAT or ACT score to earn a Bright Futures scholarship until December 1, 2020.


State Colleges and Universities

  • All state college and university campuses will remain closed through the 2020 summer 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.

  • On June 23, the Board of Governors for the State University System approved the reopening plans of Florida's 12 public state universities after campuses shut down amid COVID-19.

  • For more information on each reopening plan visit: https://www.flbog.edu/session/board-of-governors-regular-meeting-kn7w35nd/



Reopening, Recovery, and Federal CARES Act Education Funding

On June 11, Governor DeSantis and Commissioner Corcoran issued the following implementation plans for recovery and reopening Florida’s schools, and the federal CARES Act Education related funding:

State Recommendations for Recovery and Reopening:

COVID-19 related school closures have disproportionate impacts on students, academic outcomes, and employed parents. The state’s goal is to close achievement gaps and create safe spaces for learning as Florida continues to recover from the pandemic. Reopening is a locally driven decision. However, the state recommends a step-by-step approach for recovery and reopening plans which address early learning, K-12 schools, and state colleges and universities.


State Implementation of CARES Act Education Funding:

  • $64 million for Summer Recovery

  • Funding will provide summer programs for identified students with significant academic needs for 4-6 weeks of face-to-face learning on school campuses.

  • $15 million to build reading capacity, and for highly effective reading coaches and regional support teams

  • $20 million to encourage schools and school districts to identify and adopt B.E.S.T. curriculum for reading and civics

  • $223 million for early learning programs (child care fund)

  • $45 million set aside in safety net reserve funds

  • $30 million to protect Florida Tax Credit Scholarship recipients

  • $15 million to assist voucher schools with a majority of public scholarship students to keep those students enrolled, therefore protecting funding for K-12 public schools by preventing large increases in enrollment from students losing their scholarships

  • $8 million to allow every public school student graduating in the 2020-2021 academic year to take the ACT and SAT free of charge

  • $35 million for rapid credentials

  • Funding will increase capacity for short term technical certificate programs, clock hour career certificate programs, and industry certification preparation courses.

  • $10.9 million for CTE equipment

  • $2 million for increased Telehealth services

  • $250,000 for public school teacher training on virtual learning management systems

For more information on recovery and reopening recommendations, and details on the federal CARES Act Education funding visit: http://www.fldoe.org/core/fileparse.php/19861/urlt/FLDOEReopeningCARESAct.pdf


Online/Distance Learning

  • 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.

  • Florida received federal approval to implement Florida's Pandemic EBT Program (P-EBT) to automatically issue benefits during the month of June to children who no longer have access to free and reduced-price school lunches from COVID-19.

  • For more information visit: https://www.flgov.com/2020/05/27/governor-ron-desantis-announces-floridas-participation-in-the-usdas-pandemic-ebt-program/

  • View the Emergency Rule at www.fdacs.gov/News-Events/Press-Releases/2020-Press-Releases/Commissioner-Nikki-Fried-Issues-Emergency-Orders-Rules-During-COVID-19

  • For more information on the Summer BreakSpot program visit www.summerbreakspot.org/

Florida Virtual School (FLVS)

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.


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