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Updates and Information in Response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

MDE Updates and Guidance

The MDE continues to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. We are working with the Mississippi Department of Health (MSDH), the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding preventive measures and the response to COVID-19.

This webpage provides guidance and resources to support the health and well-being of students, school and district employees, and communities. This page will be updated as new information becomes available.

Contact MDE at 601-359-3513 or use our agency directory to locate staff email addresses: www.mdek12.org/directory. 

District Summer Learning Plans 
School districts have submitted plans in accordance with Governor Tate Reeves’ Executive Order 1476. Plans have been reviewed and accepted by the MDE and are posted online.

MDE Daily Updates to Districts May-June 2020

 

Guidance Topics for Districts and Families
Click on the topic name to view guidance and Q&A information

Assessment and Accountability

1. How will the state handle testing as schools are closed?

As of March 19, 2020, all Mississippi spring 2020 assessments have been cancelled.  

The U.S. Department of Education has issued a Fact Sheet: Impact of COVID-19 on Assessments and Accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act 

2. What assessments have been suspended? 

On March 19, 2020, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the State Board of Education granted approval to suspend all federal and state requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System for the 2019 – 2020 school year: 

  • Pre-K and Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (post-test); 

  • Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) and MAAP-Alternate (MAAP-A) English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science – Grades 3 - 8 and High School End-of-Course; 

  • U.S. History; 

  • Statewide sponsored administration of the ACT for 11th graders; 

  • English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT); and 

  • Career Planning and Assessment System (CPAS). 

3. Will the Kindergarten Dyslexia Screener be administered to the kindergarten class of 2019-2020? 

The spring dyslexia screener for kindergarteners in the 2019 – 2020 school year will not be administered. The screener will be administered in the fall of the 22019 – 2020 school year to all Grade 1 students. 

4. Will the students enrolled in Grade 3 in the 2019-2020 school year be promoted to Grade 4 if the reading assessment is suspended? 

All students enrolled in Grade 3 in the 2019 – 2020 school year shall be promoted to Grade 4 for the 2020 – 2021 school year if the student meets all other district requirements for promotion. 

5. Are districts required to administer (K-3) Reading Screeners or Diagnostic Assessments while students are learning from home? 

No. However, if districts choose to administer screeners and/or diagnostic assessments to K-3 students while learning from home, the results may only be used to guide learning. Screening results may NOT be used for promotion or retention (Mississippi Code § 37-23-16). 

6. Are districts required to administer the K-Readiness Assessment while students are learning from home? 

No. On March 26, 2020, the State Board of Education granted approval to suspend all federal and state requirements of the Mississippi Statewide Assessment System for the 2019 – 2020 school year, which included the K-Readiness Assessment for all Pre-K and kindergarten students.

7. What happens to shipments arriving from the assessment vendor? 

The MDE is currently working with all assessment vendors to monitor and adjust the shipments of secure testing materials. 

Please package and ship all testing materials back to the respective vendors. This will include the ELPT to DRC, the ACT to ACT, Inc., and MAAP-A to Questar Assessments. We have asked our vendors to suspend the shipment of all MAAP materials to the districts. 

Please refer to the Test Coordinator’s Manual for instructions on how to package and return materials.  

If you have questions, you can email the MDE assessment coordinators using this site as a reference:  https://www.mdek12.org/OSA/Staff 

8. Is the state working with ACT to identify new dates for testing windows? 

 The MDE is currently in discussion with ACT regarding options for testing the remaining juniors who have not tested. 

9. Will ACT testing be rescheduled? Should students plan to test during the make-up window? 

The ACT administration for March 31 is cancelled. Please package and ship any materials received back to the ACT. The MDE is currently in discussion with ACT regarding options for testing the remaining juniors that have not tested.     

10. Will the MAAP window open this year? 

As of March 19, 2020, all Mississippi spring 2020 assessments have been cancelled. The MDE will work to adjust MDE policies around graduation requirements and provide information soon. 

11. How does the school closure affect state and federal accountability? 

The MDE will work closely with school system leadership, the Mississippi State Board of Education and the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to consider potential policy adjustments. 

12. Has the MDE submitted a waiver to the United States Department of Education for flexibility under ESSA? 

On March 20, 2020, the Mississippi Department of Education submitted an expedited waiver to the United States Department of Education (ED) to waive certain requirements in section 1111 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) related to assessment and accountability requirements. The MDE received formal approval from ED on March 27, 2020 for its waiver from federal accountability requirements. Read the details of the waiver here 

13. Will schools and districts receive accountability measures this year? 

Due to the unique circumstances arising as a result of COVID-19, such as statewide school closures that have occurred during multiple testing windows, it is not feasible for the MDE to administer any of the required state or federal assessments for the 2019-20 school year. Therefore, the MDE will not have sufficient data to produce accountability determinations as required by state and federal law for the 2019-20 school year.  

On March 19, 2020, during its regularly scheduled meeting, the State Board of Education granted approval for districts and schools to maintain the same accountability designation in the 2020 – 2021 school year as assigned in the 2019-20 school year with no cumulative impact for cases where multiple years with the same designation may lead to a more severe consequences. 

14. How will school improvement designations be impacted? 

Schools and districts will retain the same designations for CSI, TSI, and ATSI from the 2018 – 2019 school year.  The three-year average performance used in identification would exclude the 2019-20 school year. 

15. How will growth be calculated for accountability next year if there are no assessments this year? 

The MDE will work with the Accountability Task Force to determine appropriate adjustments to accountability measures for the 2020-2021 school year and future school years due to this disruption.  The MDE is already working with national experts and the United States Department of Education to work through this disruption in accountability and to chart a path forward. 

16. Since the English language proficiency test (ELPT) was suspended, how does that affect students exiting the English learner program (including served and monitored students)?  

The English learner (EL) moves to monitored status when he or she has officially exited the EL Program based on the SBE-approved exit criteria. The student will remain in this status for four (4) years. The student in monitored status no longer receives EL accommodations and does not take the English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT).  

The served English learners who tested in the Spring 2020 ELPT administration will receive student results and, if the exit criteria are met, will be eligible to exit the EL program. Disability preclusions in place as of March 16, 2020, will be applied to the specific student’s respective domain(s). The student results will be posted in the ELPT testing tab in the MSIS. 

17. How will EL placement be addressed next school year since some students are not taking the ELPT this year? 

The existing student’s placement will remain the same for the 2020 - 2021 school year, if the student did not take the ELPT or did not complete the ELPT. A new enrollee from out-of-state or country, who is a potential English learner (EL) based on the Home Language Survey, will take the screener/placement test to determine if he or she will qualify as an EL. 

18. Will the students who already completed the LAS Links entirely be able to keep their scores? For example, will student who completed the LAS Links before spring break and whose scores indicate they are eligible to exit be able to be placed on monitor status for the next school year? 

Yes, the students who tested will be able to keep their scores and will be eligible to exit if the exit criteria are met; however, the scores will not count for accountability for the 2019 - 2020 school year. 

19. What is the plan for students that did not test yet? What will happen to the especially the ones who would have most likely exited. 

The status for students who did not test will remain the same for the 2020 - 2021 school year, and the EL students classified as “served” will be tested in Spring 2021. 

20. Will students who were projected to exit be allowed to exit, if they were not tested or partially tested?

No; however, disability preclusions on file as of March 16, 2020, will be applied to ELs that tested. 

For additional guidance on Assessment and Accountability, view the April 3, 2020 webinar, COVID19 Changes Impacting Accountability, Assessment, Graduation, and Course Grades, and the associated back-up material.  

 

CARES Act

 

1. Has the MDE identified recommended priorities for the use of CARES Act funds?

Yes. See the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Recommendations for District Expenditures document. 

2. What is the availability period for the CARES Act funds? Is a needs assessment required for these funds?

LEAs will have until September 30, 2022 to obligate CARES Act funds.

3. Can a non-public school who only participates in FY20 Title II equitable service, apply for CARES Act funds?

Yes, an LEA must offer to provide equitable services under the CARES Act programs to students and teachers in all non-public schools located in the LEA, even if a non-public school has not previously participated under Title I, Part A or Title VIII of the ESEA.

4. Will there be additional funds allocated under the CARES Act?

At this time, we are not aware of additional funds under the CARES Act.

5. How is the equitable share calculated with Title I, Part A?

The CARES Act require LEAs to follow the Title I Equitable Service procedures. Generally, LEAs must reach out to non-public schools in its attendance area and complete an "Intent to Participate" form. If a non-public school elects to participate in equitable service, then the LEA must begin consultation using an estimated allocation.

6. Considering the time restraints districts are facing with trying to provide online learning, will CARES Act funds allow pre-award cost?

At this time, USDE has not provided guidance in this area. The MDE has requested confirmation from USDE as to whether this will be allowed.

7. For clarity, can career and technical education be included in district planning for the CARES Act funds? If so, is it allowable for LEAs to purchase career and technical education equipment with CARES Act funds?

Yes. Perkins activities are an allowable use of CARES Act funds.

8. Will a new fund number be assigned for CARES Act funds?

Yes.

9. What is the timeframe in which the CARES Act funds should be expended once allocated and distributed to the LEA?

We are unable to answer this question, but we will provide a timeline once the MDE receives funds from USDE.

10. Are there any waivers applicable to FY19 IDEA Part B funds?

There are currently no waivers for these funds.

11. Can these CARES Act funds be used on non-Title schools?

Yes, CARES Act funds can be used on non-Title schools.

12. When will the guidance document will be available?

Guidance documents will be forthcoming.

13. Are schools-at-risk (SAR) able to receive CARES Act funds?

The CARES Act funding is not a school level allocation. LEAs have the flexibility to spend funds as needed.

14. When will LEAs will be able to apply for the CARES Act funds in MCAPS?

We will provide a timeline once the MDE receives funds from USDE.

15. Can LEAs pay mental health services or a behavioral specialist with CARES Act funds?

Yes, this is an allowable cost under ESEA Programs and IDEA, Part B.

16. Are State procurement standards relaxed for the LEAs?

The MDE does not have authority to relax procurement requirements.

17. Are revisions required for emergency purchases using FY19 and FY20 Title I fund?

FY19 and FY20 Title funds require revisions prior to spending funds. Please submit revisions as soon as possible.

18. Does this CARES Act include separate IDEA funds?

The CARES Act funding does not include separate Title I or IDEA funds, but may be used for activities allowed under both projects.

19. Will the CARES Act funds be added to FY20 Title I funds?

No, the CARES Act funds are not Title I funds. CARES Act funds will be managed with separate codes within MCAPS and within district budgets.

20. Will LEAs have to apply for FY19 and FY20 waivers?

Yes, waivers will be a part of the CARES Act application.

21. Is it allowable to pay employees who were once paid from general funds out of the CARES Act funds?

There is no supplement-not-supplant provision with CARES Act fund. Please ensure that the employee's salary would be allowable under the identified programs or activities described in the CARES Act. Also, a Personnel Activity Report (PAR) must be maintained.

22. Since these are not federal funds, will the MDE recommend that LEAs assign the oversight of these funds to a separate department in the district?

CARES Act funding is a federally funded program. LEAs may assign this work as desired.

23. Does the extension of the period of availability apply to IDEA?

No, it does not.

24. How will supplement-not-supplant apply for district level expenditures that apply to several ESEA grants?

There is no supplement-not-supplant provision with CARES Act funds. If an LEA expends CARES Act Funds on any ESEA expenditures, the supplement not supplant requirement is not applicable.

25. EDGAR allows for not adhering to noncompetitive proposals or single source if there is a public emergency.  Does this qualify?

According to Mississippi Code Annotated § 31-7-13, school boards must approve emergency purchases.

26. Will charter schools receive an allocation under the CARES Act?

Yes, charter schools that received a Title I, Part A allocations for the 2019-2020 school year will receive CARES Act funds.

27. Are LEAs allowed to use the same Equitable Service Consultation form that is normally used, or will MDE send a new form to use?

A new form will be used for equitable services under CARES Act.

28. Will LEAs have to visit with those non-public schools again if they refused services previously?

The MDE has not received final guidance on this question from the USDE at this time.

29. Please provide an example of how the funds can be utilized for IDEA.

Funds can be used for any allowable activity under IDEA.

30. Is the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) allocation separate from the CARES Act funds, or is it just another name for the relief funds allocated in the CARES Act?

The ESSERF allocation is a part of CARES Act funds.

31. Is there a requirement to allocate CARES Act funds to schools?

No, the CARES Act funds are not Title I funds.

32. Is it allowable to use the CARES Act funds on food service costs that LEAs may have lost serving grab and go meals?

CARES Act funds may be used for planning and coordinating long term closures, including providing meals, technology for online learning for all students, carrying out requirements under IDEA, and ensuring other educational services can continue.

33. Is the needs assessment required for the FY21 CFPA?

Yes, the needs assessment is required for the FY21 Title programs.

34. Is a budget revision required if LEAs need to move money from professional development (PD) to technology to help with online learning (Title I FY20)?

Yes, a revision is required.

35. If an LEA or individual school is not rated a Level C will they still be eligible for access to CARES Act funds?

All LEAs receiving FY20 Title I, Part A funds will receive CARES Act funds.

36. For Title IV well-rounded education, is a revision required if funds will not be spent according to the budget?

Yes, a revision is required

 

Distance Learning

Many districts have requested additional guidance regarding the feasibility and legality of providing online learning in the event of an extended school closure. For districts considering a transition to online delivery, the following should be taken into consideration. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Ensuring all students in the school or district will have equal access to the learning and required materials, including technology. 

  • Ensuring the online learning system can effectively support the district’s different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well as one-on-one support for students who need it. Regardless of where the learning is happening, supports identified on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be provided if the district is operating. 

  • Ensuring students can access the assessments associated with dual credit coursework. 

  • Ensuring the systems in use are secure and will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information. 

  • The ability to provide school meals. 

Taking a traditional school environment online is not a simple task – nor is it one that should be attempted without serious consideration of the practicality and risk.  

The MDE is not directing districts that they must transition to delivery of all content online, as we recognize that online access and remote support for rural students and students with disabilities will certainly pose equity issues across the state. Districts need to consider how they can help facilitate continued learning within homes across the state – either through online opportunities or by making grade-level instructional packets, Family Success Guides, or other resources available for pick-up at school or various locations within the district. Packet delivery could take place in conjunction with lunch pick-ups or via bus routes deployed to deliver meals. MDE staff are working on short, informal video lessons that may be helpful to families, and we have met with Mississippi Public Broadcasting to adjust daytime programming for elementary, middle, and high school students in the coming weeks. 
 
The MDE recognizes and appreciates that districts are taking different approaches depending on their local capacity and infrastructure during this closure, and the MDE recognizes that parents across the state are now trying to balance additional day-to-day stress and responsibility. MDE is pursuing flexibility within existing laws and policies regarding instructional time, graduation requirements, attendance, assessment and accountability. Ultimately, districts need to focus on the health and safety of their communities and support continued learning by our students. 

The MDE Learning-At-Home Resources for Districts webpage contains materials and tools that may be used to provide additional resources to parents or students. This information is only intended to be a general summary of information provided to the public. The resources in the COVID19_Guidance for Districts document may be helpful to districts and teachers looking for off-site learning opportunities during an extended school closure. 

Digital Access Continuum for Distance Learning 
 
The MDE created this Digital Access Continuum infographic to show the approaches districts could take to support distance learning based on their capacity to reach students. Distance learning looks different from district to district, and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Districts are encouraged to consider all feasible options to help students continue learning at home. 

 

Educational Stability for Students in Foster Care

As Local Education Agencies (LEAs) look to respond to individual student needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to consider the unique and individualized needs of students in foster care. Maintaining positive connections, ensuring educational stability, expediting enrollment, withdrawals, and simplifying transitions in the event of a school transfer are vital during this time. 

1. How can LEA Foster Care Points of Contact (POC) work with the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services (MDCPS) Education Liaison or Social Worker to support students in foster care during COVID-19? 

LEA Foster Care POC and MDCPS staff are encouraged to collaborate to ensure educational stability for students in foster care during the COVID-19 pandemic. There are several actions that can be taken: 

  • Develop a shared strategy for addressing the needs of students in foster care and supporting caregivers locally. 
  • Provide information to the MDCPS staff regarding the LEA’s enrollment and withdrawal processes and educational stability process. This information will be shared with caregivers, caseworkers, and other relevant parties involved in the child’s case.
  • Include the MDCPS staff in virtual meetings and planning to support students (e.g. Best Interest Determination (BID), IEP, etc.).
  • Assist MDCPS staff with contacting school personnel (e.g. student services, special education, etc.), while school buildings are closed and staff are working remotely.
  • Contact the MDCPS when the LEA is not able to contact with a student or family. MDCPS will assist the LEA in locating students who may have moved.
  • Coordinate collaborative training opportunities virtually. 

2. Who should check in with students in foster care during the COVID-19 pandemic

Preferably, a member of the LEA that a student has a relationship with should follow-up (e.g. teacher, counselor, liaison, etc.) to check on the student. Maintaining positive relationships and connections with caring adults is especially important for students in foster care. Weekly safety check-ins are recommended with students regarding their progress and well-being. 

3. What strategies can LEAs implement to support caregivers and foster parents during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Communicate the LEA’s plan for instruction.
  • Check in with MDCPS staff (including foster care parents or caregiver) to ensure they have proper equipment and ability to access online learning platforms.
  • Inquire to determine if the MDCPS staff (foster care parent or caregiver) needs assistance accessing available tools and resources. 
  • Provide caregivers information to support social and emotional well-being, trauma-informed approaches, mindfulness, and related strategies to reduce anxiety and promote positive learning environments. 
  • Reiterate opportunities for the caregiver to connect with teachers and school staff virtually (phone, text, online, etc.).
  • Host virtual support opportunities for caregivers to ask questions, receive coaching, and connect with LEA staff and one-another while students are at home. 

4. How can Foster Care POCs support enrollment and withdrawal for students in Foster Care, during COVID-19 pandemic? 

Provide direction on how to enroll and withdraw students while schools are closed, including:

  • Share contact information on who to call.
  • Assist with record transfers between the sending and receiving schools.
  • Support communication between the caseworker, school, and others involved in the child’s case. 
  • Prominently place the LEA’s enrollment and withdrawal processes and expectations during COVID-19 on the LEA’s website.
  • Develop a checklist with enrollment and withdrawal information that can be shared. 

5. Are there any special considerations for maintaining a student in their school of origin (or current school placement) during COVID-19?

Yes. As a reminder, children in foster care are to remain in their school of origin (or current school placement) even when placed in a residence outside of their school district, if it is the best interest of the student while in the care of the state.  These guidelines remain during COVID-19 or any other disaster. When students are participating in school virtually, the distance between the school and the residence of the student becomes less of a consideration in determining which school is in the student’s best interest. Similarly, if a student needs to change schools during COVID-19 pandemic, ensure that the receiving school has a streamlined and clear process for enrollment and can provide educational continuity, prior to withdrawing the student. It is critical that students remain enrolled in school and have minimal disruptions, during this time.  

6. May LEA’s deny enrollment while schools are transitioning to virtual instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

No. LEAs are required to fulfill all statutory responsibilities concerning student enrollment. Even while school buildings are closed, LEAs must have a process in place for enrolling students. The LEA’s process for enrollment and withdrawal should be prominently placed on the district/school’s website and in a manner that is parent friendly. 

7. How can LEA Foster Care POC or other LEA staff, such as school counselors, support students in foster care during COVID-19?

LEA Foster Care POC and other support staff should:

  • Check in remotely on a regular basis to ensure educational support and continuity.
  • Ensure students in foster care have equitable access to adequate learning resources that best fit their environment.
  • Determine whether foster care students have the appropriate resources to meet their needs.
  • Provide tips, resources, and strategies for caregivers on promoting positive at-home learning environments.
  • Provide resources that link students with social and emotional supports.
  • Ensure there is a process in place for enrolling and withdrawing students while schools are closed.

8. If an LEA wants to reach out and follow up with a student in foster care, where can they locate the contact information for the student? 

In addition to the LEA’s student information system, information for the student’s caregiver can be obtained from the student’s social worker or educational liaison.

9. Who can the LEA contact from the MDCPS if they have education-related questions or concerns pertaining to students in foster care? 

MDCPS has designated Ashley Falgout (Ashley.Falgout@mdcps.ms.gov) as the point of contact.

10. Is there guidance available for students in foster care who are receiving Special Education services? 

Yes. Visit the Special Education section of the Mississippi Department of Education COVID-19 Guidance webpage, www.mdek12.org/covid19. The list of questions and answers is updated regularly to provide up-to-date guidance and information. 

11. Are there any resources available to help caregivers and parents talk to their children about COVID-19? 

Yes. The National Association of School Psychologists COVID-19 Webpage contains a valuable information to share with caregivers and parents. The page can be accessed at https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/helping-children-cope-with-changes-resulting-from-covid-19.

12. Are there resources available for families that do not have access to internet?

Yes. A list of providers who can assist families while schools are closed due to COVID-19 can be accessed through the following link: https://www.mdek12.org/covid19/districtresources#Internet%20Services

13. Who can enroll students in placed in foster care?  

A student in foster care can be enrolled by a MDCPS representative (i.e., case worker, educational liaison or an individual with MDCPS foster parent verification).

14. Is there any guidance for students in foster care during school closure?  

It is recommended that the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services and foster parents follow guidance provided by the district.   

15. Are Local Education Agency’s (LEA) Foster Care Points of Contact (POC) required to continue collaborating with Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services to assist with the Best Interest Determination (BID) Process and with school enrollment for foster care students?  

LEA Foster Care POCs must ensure their contact information is easily accessible to the Mississippi Department of Education staff and/or foster parents to ensure compliance with federal guidelines as it relates to immediate enrollment.  The district may need to revise the POC’s contact number on the district’s website. 

16. Is a Local Education Agency (LEA) required to have separate procedures for foster care students to receive class work during school closures?  

No, LEAs are not required to have separate guidelines for students in foster care.  Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services and foster parents will need to follow guidance provided by the district. 

17. How will students in foster care placement receive educational assignments?  

Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services and/or foster parents will need to follow guidance provided by the district to all students.  

18. Is there an expectation that school districts will operate in the same manner as prior to school closures?  

There is no expectation of school districts to operate in the same manner as prior to school closures. Gov. Reeves declared a “State of Emergency” closing all schools until April 17, 2020. Therefore, each district has devised a plan including resources for families and students.  Please check with district’s foster care POC or the district’s website for further guidance. 

 

Educational Services for Students Placed in a Youth Detention Center

How will educational services be provided to students detained in youth detention centers?  

Sponsoring schools should follow the guidelines established by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), state, and local health departments. It is recommended that educational staff consult with youth detention center officials to determine the level, if any, of in-cell educational services. Education packets are an option if detention officials will accept them. Ensure there is a process in place to determine if students with disabilities are detained, and follow the guidelines provided by the MDE Office of Special Education. Sponsoring school districts may want to ensure that youth detention center officials have the various educational resources that have provided to families.

 

Educator Effectiveness

1. With school closures due to COVID-19, is there consideration being given to suspending the rules under Process Standard 3: The school district implements an annual, formal personnel appraisal system for licensed staff that includes assessment of employee on-the-job performance. 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to suspend the requirement for districts to submit annual employee performance data for the 2019-20 school year via Sharepoint; however, districts may choose to submit available Professional Growth System (PGS) data to MDE. 

The suspension will remove sanctions for districts failing to adhere to the reporting guidelines of the Educator and Administrator Professional Appraisal System for the 2019-20 school year.   

Districts will not be required to attend the MDE approved PGS training for the 2019-20 school year. It is recommended that districts attend future PGS training in preparation for the upcoming school years in which Process Standard 3 is reinstated. 

 

Educator Licensure 

1. With the closure of test centers due to COVID-19, is there consideration being given to suspending the Educator Preparation Program Entry testing requirements? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the educator preparation program entry testing criterion only, for all candidates seeking admission to a Mississippi State Board of Education approved traditional or nontraditional educator preparation program on or before December 31, 2021. 

Individuals seeking admission to a nontraditional educator preparation program only, shall be required to meet one (1) of the following measures of subject matter competency at the time of admittance:  

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in the endorsement area in which the license is being sought from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred;   

OR  

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area and eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the endorsement area in which the license is sought. Both the degree(s) and the eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework must have been earned from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred. Remedial courses (also referred to as compensatory, developmental, or basic skills) will not be recognized for certification purposes and are usually numbered below 100 on the transcript (Elementary Education is not included under this option);  

OR  

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred and a passing score on the appropriate Mississippi State Board of Education approved licensure Subject Area Assessment in the endorsement area in which the license is requested.  

Beginning January 1, 2022 and thereafter, applicants seeking program admission shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received by the Mississippi State Board of Education approved educator preparation program provider.   

Note of Clarification:  The educator preparation program entry/admission testing requirement is the only requirement for admission that has been suspended.  This includes Twenty-one (21) ACT equivalent and Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators examinations.  Grade Point Average (GPA) and all other criteria for program admission remain in effect.  

2. With the closure of test centers due to COVID-19, is there consideration being given to suspending Educator and Administrator Licensure testing requirements?   

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the licensure testing criterion only, for all complete applications received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before December 31, 2021 for Five-Year Standard Licenses sought by way of the completion of an approved traditional or nontraditional educator or administrator preparation program as defined by the Mississippi State Board of Education.  

Please note that applicants seeking the three-year internship license or five-year standard license by way of the completion of the respective appropriate components of a nontraditional educator preparation program only, shall have met one (1) of the following measures of subject matter competency at the time of program admittance:  

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in the endorsement area in which the license is being sought from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred; 

OR  

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area and eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the endorsement area in which the license is sought. Both the degree(s) and the eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework must have been earned from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred. Remedial courses (also referred to as compensatory, developmental, or basic skills) will not be recognized for certification purposes and are usually numbered below 100 on the transcript (Elementary Education is not included under this option);  

OR  

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred and a passing score on the appropriate Mississippi State Board of Education approved licensure Subject Area Assessment in the endorsement area in which the license is requested. 

Beginning January 1, 2022 and thereafter, applicants for licensure shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure.   

3. With the MDE’s and local school districts’, as appropriate, inability to ensure equitable access to high-quality professional learning opportunities for all educators and administrators for the purpose of meeting State Board of Education Licensure Renewal Requirements due to COVID-19, is there consideration being given to suspending Educator and Administrator Licensure Renewal requirements for licenses scheduled to expire June 30, 2020? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the renewal requirements for those who hold licenses that are set to expire on June 30, 2020 and grant a one-year extension for all license types with a current valid expiration date of June 30, 2020. Qualifying licenses will be dated to expire June 30, 2021.  

Beginning July 1, 2021 and thereafter, applicants for licensure renewal shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure.  

The request is due in part to the MDE’s and local school districts’, as appropriate, inability to ensure equitable access to high-quality professional learning opportunities for all educators and administrators for the purpose of meeting State Board of Education licensure renewal requirements. 

Note of Clarification and Licensure Application Process: 

Those educators and administrators who hold a Mississippi license of any type with a current valid expiration date of June 30, 2020 are eligible to receive a one-year extension. Qualifying licenses will be dated to expire June 30, 2021.  Please note that the extension of local district requested license types (i.e. Special, Non-renewable, Emergency Certificate for Veteran Teachers, Expert Citizen…) would have to be requested by the employing local school district or eligible nonpublic school.   

Application Process for Requesting the COVID-19 Extension of All License Types Except Local District Requested Licenses: 

To receive the extension for licenses other than those that are requested by a local school district or eligible nonpublic school, the educator or administrator must complete the paper application located via the web link below and under the “Licensure Request” section of the licensure application, select COVID-19 Extension and All Other License Types.   

www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms  

All original documents to be used as part of the licensure application review process must be scanned, and then uploaded to your ELMS account as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Uploaded images and screenshots/photographs of documents including documents submitted using business applications such as CamScanner, Office Lens, or equivalent applications will not be accepted.         

Application Process for Requesting the COVID-19 Extension of Local District Requested Licenses: 

Role of Applicant:  Applicant requesting an extension of a local district requested license must also complete the paper application located via the web link below and under the “Licensure Request” section of the licensure application, select COVID-19 Extension and Local District Requested License and list the name of the local district or eligible nonpublic school that has requested a special license on your behalf.  

www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms 

All original documents to be used as part of the licensure application review process must be scanned, and then uploaded to your ELMS account as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Uploaded images and screenshots/photographs of documents including documents submitted using business applications such as CamScanner, Office Lens, or equivalent applications will not be accepted.         

Role of Requesting Local School District or Eligible Nonpublic School: Local school district or eligible nonpublic school must complete a special short form COVID-19 one (1) page extension request application which will be posted to “forms” page of the licensure section of the MDE website by no later than 5:00 PM Friday, April 3, 2020.  The completed application must be scanned as a PDF and uploaded into your respective district portal of the Educator Licensure Management System (ELMS).    

www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms 

All original documents to be used as part of the licensure application review process must be scanned, and then uploaded to your ELMS account as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Uploaded images and screenshots/photographs of documents including documents submitted using business applications such as CamScanner, Office Lens, or equivalent applications will not be accepted.         

4. With the closure of test centers due to COVID-19, is there consideration being given to suspending Educator Licensure Reciprocity testing requirements? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special-Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the licensure testing criterion only for all complete applications for Five-Year Standard Reciprocity received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before December 31, 2021.  

Beginning January 1, 2022 and thereafter, applicants for reciprocity shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. 

5. In order for an educator to apply for licensure extension for one year, does the educator have to have transcripts for both graduate and undergraduate just to extend for one year or just email the application? 

Application Process for Requesting the COVID-19 Extension of All License Types Except Local District Requested Licenses:  

To receive the extension for licenses other than those that are requested by a local school district or eligible nonpublic school, the educator or administrator must complete the paper application located via the web link below. Under the “Licensure Request” section of the licensure application, select COVID-19 Extension and All Other License Types: www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms   

All original documents to be used as part of the licensure application review process must be scanned, and then uploaded to your ELMS account as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Uploaded images and screenshots/photographs of documents including documents submitted using business applications such as CamScanner, Office Lens, or equivalent applications will not be accepted. 

6. I have 5 CEUs and I am registered to take a week class in June to get my other 5 CEUs. My license goes out at the end of June. What will happen if I am not able to attend these classes? Will MDE extend these licenses for another year in order to complete the classes to renew my license. 

Those educators and administrators who hold a Mississippi license of any type with a current valid expiration date of June 30, 2020 are eligible to receive a one-year extension. Qualifying licenses will be dated to expire June 30, 2021. Please note that the extension of local district requested license types (i.e. Special, Non-renewable, Emergency Certificate for Veteran Teachers, Expert Citizen, etc.) would have to be requested by the employing local school district or eligible nonpublic school.   

Application Process for Requesting the COVID-19 Extension of All License Types Except Local District Requested Licenses:  

To receive the extension for licenses other than those that are requested by a local school district or eligible nonpublic school, the educator or administrator must complete the paper application located via the web link below and under the “Licensure Request” section of the licensure application, select COVID-19 Extension and All Other License Types. www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms   

All original documents to be used as part of the licensure application review process must be scanned, and then uploaded to your ELMS account as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Uploaded images and screenshots/photographs of documents including documents submitted using business applications such as CamScanner, Office Lens, or equivalent applications will not be accepted.         

7. In order for the educator to apply for licensure extension for one year, does the educator have to have transcripts for both graduate and undergraduate just to extend for one year or just email the application? 

To receive the extension for licenses other than those that are requested by a local school district or eligible nonpublic school, the educator or administrator must complete the paper application located via the web link below and under the “Licensure Request” section of the licensure application, select COVID-19 Extension and All Other License Types. www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms   

All original documents to be used as part of the licensure application review process must be scanned, and then uploaded to your ELMS account as a Portable Document Format (PDF) file. Uploaded images and screenshots/photographs of documents including documents submitted using business applications such as CamScanner, Office Lens, or equivalent applications will not be accepted. 

8. Will license extension apply to district requested 1-year emergency licenses and 3-year Career and Technical Education (CTE) licenses that are set to expire June 30, 2020? 

Yes. COVID-19 Extension Request Application Process: The COVID-19 extension request must be initiated by the employing local school district using this Short Form Application: COVID-19 Extension Request document.   

Step 1:   “Part A” of this form must be completed by the requesting local school district  

Step 2:   Requesting local school district must provide the prospective teacher with a PDF version of the completed “Part A”  

Step 3: Prospective teacher must complete “Part B” of this form in its entirety and save as a PDF document  

Step 4:  Prospective Teacher must upload a PDF copy of “Parts A and B” of the completed form to the correspondence section of his/her ELMS account.  

While “Parts A and B” of this form are included as part of one document for the purpose of ease of access, the requesting local school district and prospective teacher should only complete, print, and save as a PDF, the portion of the form that is relevant to them. However, both, “Parts A and B” must be submitted together by the prospective teacher by uploading the documents to the correspondence section of his/her ELMS account. www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms 

9. Will students who wish to enter MAT programs be able to secure their three-year non-renewable internship licenses without taking the Praxis II in their subject area? 

Yes. However, applicants seeking the three-year non-renewable internship license or five-year standard license by way of the completion of the respective appropriate components of a nontraditional educator preparation program only, shall have met one (1) of the following measures of subject matter competency at the time of program admittance:   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in the endorsement area in which the license is being sought from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred;  

OR   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area and eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the endorsement area in which the license is sought. Both the degree(s) and the eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework must have been earned from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred. Remedial courses (also referred to as compensatory, developmental, or basic skills) will not be recognized for certification purposes and are usually numbered below 100 on the transcript (Elementary Education is not included under this option);   

OR   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred and a passing score on the appropriate Mississippi State Board of Education approved licensure Subject Area Assessment in the endorsement area in which the license is requested.

Beginning January 1, 2022 and thereafter, applicants for licensure shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure.   

10. Is the spring 2020 test exemption for ACT and Praxis Core scores only? Will students be exempt from Praxis II and the Foundations of Reading test for licensure this spring and summer? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the educator preparation program entry testing criterion only, for all candidates seeking admission to a Mississippi State Board of Education approved traditional or nontraditional educator preparation program on or before December 31, 2021.

In addition, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the licensure testing criterion only, for all complete applications received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before December 31, 2021 for Five-Year Standard Licenses sought by way of the completion of an approved traditional or nontraditional educator or administrator preparation program as defined by the Mississippi State Board of Education.   

The test suspension includes Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Praxis Core), ACT, SAT, Praxis Subject Assessments, Foundations of Reading, Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT), School Leaders Licensure Assessment, and ALL other tests that make up the Mississippi Administrator and Educator Testing Program. 

11. For May graduates, what will be the field experience requirements for students who have not completed 12-week internships but who have continued to work virtually with their school placements this spring in order for them to secure licensure upon graduation? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special-Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to issue a one-year suspension of the requirement that students shall successfully complete a minimum of 12 weeks of full day student teaching for program completion for spring 2020 prospective program completers, by allowing candidates’ virtual experiences to be acceptable for a portion of the minimum 12 weeks of the required student teaching. The MDE will continue to work collaboratively with Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) to determine the acceptable experiences necessary for student teaching and demonstration of teaching competency prior to licensure.

12. Please consider including in the 1-year license extension those of us who have a Career and Technical Education (CTE) 3-year license for adding an endorsement that will expire 6/30/2020. RCU is not testing for the IC3 technology tests at this time and I cannot finish my requirements to fulfill the endorsement. I requested an extension under the current extension and was denied because it is 3 years instead of standard 5. I have a standard 5 that is current until 2023. 

Career and Technical Education (CTE) 3-year provisional licenses that are scheduled to expire June 30, 2020 are eligible for a one-year extension. The process for obtaining the extension must be done in collaboration with and initiated by the local school district.  

COVID-19 Extension Request Application Process: The COVID-19 extension request must be initiated by the employing local school district using this Short Form Application: COVID-19 Extension Request document.   

Step 1: “Part A” of this form must be completed by the requesting local school district  

Step 2:  Requesting local school district must provide the prospective teacher with a PDF version of the completed “Part A”  

Step 3: Prospective teacher must complete “Part B” of this form in its entirety and save as a PDF document  

Step 4: Prospective Teacher must upload a PDF copy of “Parts A and B” of the completed form to the correspondence section of his/her ELMS account.

While “Parts A and B” of this form are included as part of one document for the purpose of ease of access, the requesting local school district and prospective teacher should only complete, print, and save as a PDF, the portion of the form that is relevant to them. However, both, “Parts A and B” must be submitted together by the prospective teacher by uploading the documents to the correspondence section of his/her ELMS account. www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms 

13. Is the suspended entry/CORE/ACT and licensure requirement also in effect for MAT programs? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the educator preparation program entry testing criterion only, for all candidates seeking admission to a Mississippi State Board of Education approved traditional or nontraditional educator preparation program on or before December 31, 2021.

In addition, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the licensure testing criterion only, for all complete applications received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before December 31, 2021 for Five-Year Standard Licenses sought by way of the completion of an approved traditional or nontraditional educator or administrator preparation program as defined by the Mississippi State Board of Education. 

Applicants seeking the three-year non-renewable internship license or five-year standard license by way of the completion of the respective appropriate components of a nontraditional educator preparation program only, shall have met one (1) of the following measures of subject matter competency at the time of program admittance:   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in the endorsement area in which the license is being sought from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred; 

OR   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area and eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the endorsement area in which the license is sought. Both the degree(s) and the eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework must have been earned from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred. Remedial courses (also referred to as compensatory, developmental, or basic skills) will not be recognized for certification purposes and are usually numbered below 100 on the transcript (Elementary Education is not included under this option);   

OR   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred and a passing score on the appropriate Mississippi State Board of Education approved licensure Subject Area Assessment in the endorsement area in which the license is requested.

Beginning January 1, 2022 and thereafter, applicants for licensure shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure.

14. Will MDE prepare a statement for CAEP regarding this suspension and how it will impact data collection for various standards? 

The MDE Division of Educator Preparation is willing to provide, as appropriate, an official statement that outlines current COVID-19 related policy revisions as approved by the State Board of Education.   

15. Are testing requirements for program entry and administrator licensure also being suspended for advanced programs such as leadership programs? 

Yes. The test suspension includes Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Praxis Core), ACT, SAT, Praxis Subject Assessments, Foundations of Reading, Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT), School Leaders Licensure Assessment, and ALL other tests that make up the Mississippi Administrator and Educator Testing Program. 

16. Will candidates be required to pass any licensure tests in order to be licensed by May 2021? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the licensure testing criterion only, for all complete applications received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before December 31, 2021 for Five-Year Standard Licenses sought by way of the completion of an approved traditional or nontraditional educator or administrator preparation program as defined by the Mississippi State Board of Education.

17. Will admission to Teacher Educator Preparation Program test requirements be reinstated for those who do not complete the program by Dec. 2021 even if they will be completing student teaching in spring 2022? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the educator preparation program entry testing criterion only, for all candidates seeking admission to a Mississippi State Board of Education approved traditional or nontraditional educator preparation program on or before December 31, 2021. 

According to current guidelines, candidates for program entry who have met all admission requirements on or before December 31, 2021 as outlined above, will not be required meet the testing criterion only. Please remain mindful that applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure.       

18. Will candidates be required to have 21 ACT, Praxis and FOR to gain a 5-year license? 

On March 26, 2020 during its Special Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to suspend the educator preparation program entry testing criterion only, for all candidates seeking admission to a Mississippi State Board of Education approved traditional or nontraditional educator preparation program on or before December 31, 2021. 

According to current guidelines, candidates for program entry who have met all admission requirements on or before December 31, 2021 as outlined above, will not be required meet the testing criterion only. Please remain mindful that applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. 

19. Will any tests requirements be required for those graduating during the pandemic period in order to reapply for the 5-year license after their first 5-year renewal cycle? i.e.-go back to take FOR, PLT, etc.

Applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. At present, testing is not included as an option or requirement for licensure renewal.   

20.  I am teaching on a Two-Year Reciprocity license pending passing the "Foundations of Reading" test. All other documentation for my five-year license has been submitted. As per the March 26 meeting, MDE has suspended the test criteria of the licensure requirements until January 1, 2022. I have fulfilled all other requirements for licensure. As I understand it, I will be granted a five-year standard license for reciprocity. My question is:  Will I still be required to pass the "Foundations of Reading" test after January 1, 2022, or does the suspension of the requirement due to COVID-19 exemptions supplant that requirement for me permanently? 

Applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. If a standard license is granted to an applicant in accordance with current requirements, no additional requirements must be met.  

21. My Special, Non-renewable license ends on June 30, 2020, what will I need to do to keep my certification, I was registered to take Special Education test, but it was cancelled by the testing company. 

COVID-19 Extension Request Application Process: The COVID-19 extension request must be initiated by the employing local school district using this Short Form Application: COVID-19 Extension Request document.   

Step 1: “Part A” of this form must be completed by the requesting local school district  

Step 2:  Requesting local school district must provide the prospective teacher with a PDF version of the completed “Part A”  

Step 3: Prospective teacher must complete “Part B” of this form in its entirety and save as a PDF document  

Step 4: Prospective Teacher must upload a PDF copy of “Parts A and B” of the completed form to the correspondence section of his/her ELMS account.  

While “Parts A and B” of this form are included as part of one document for the purpose of ease of access, the requesting local school district and prospective teacher should only complete, print, and save as a PDF, the portion of the form that is relevant to them. However, both, “Parts A and B” must be submitted together by the prospective teacher by uploading the documents to the correspondence section of his/her ELMS account. www.mdek12.org/OEL/Forms 

22. Would Alternate Route program candidates in Mathematics (7-12) licensure area need the specific 21 hours required for the 7-12 endorsement if they are not using the PRAXIS content area? 

Applicants seeking the three-year non-renewable internship license or five-year standard license by way of the completion of the respective appropriate components of a nontraditional educator preparation program only, shall have met one (1) of the following measures of subject matter competency at the time of program admittance:   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in the endorsement area in which the license is being sought from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred; (Mathematics (non-education) Degree)   

OR   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area and eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the endorsement area in which the license is sought. Both the degree(s) and the eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework must have been earned from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred. Remedial courses (also referred to as compensatory, developmental, or basic skills) will not be recognized for certification purposes and are usually numbered below 100 on the transcript (Elementary Education is not included under this option);  (Eighteen (18) hours of undergraduate and/or graduate level coursework with a grade of “C” or higher in the area of Mathematics bearing the MAT prefix)   

OR   

Holds at least a bachelor’s degree in any area from an institution of higher education that was regionally/nationally accredited at the time the degree was conferred and a passing score on the appropriate Mississippi State Board of Education approved licensure Subject Area Assessment in the endorsement area in which the license is requested.

Beginning January 1, 2022 and thereafter, applicants for licensure shall meet all requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. 

23. Are School Counseling, Traditional/Nontraditional Educator and Administrator Preparation Programs and all other licensure programs requiring the completion of an internship subject to the same interpretation of statute and policy as field experiences for undergraduate licensure candidates? 

Yes. While on March 26, 2020 during its Special-Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to issue a one-year suspension of the requirement that students shall successfully complete a minimum of 12 weeks of full day student teaching for program completion for spring 2020 prospective program completers, by allowing candidates’ virtual experiences to be acceptable for a portion of the minimum 12 weeks of the required student teaching, the same is applicable to all other licensure programs requiring the completion of an internship. The MDE will continue to work collaboratively with Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) to determine the acceptable experiences necessary for student teaching and demonstration of teaching competency prior to licensure.  

24. Will candidates who receive a 5-year license need to take the suspended state required test in order to renew the license for another five-years? 

Applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. At present, testing is not included as an option or requirement for licensure renewal. 

25. Will teacher candidates who have applied recently for admission to a teacher prep program but who have not met the CORE or ACT requirement ever be expected to meet that requirement? 

According to current guidelines, candidates for program entry who have met all admission requirements on or before December 31, 2021, will not be required to retroactively meet the testing criterion. However, please remain mindful that applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. 
 
26. Will current teacher candidates who have met all other requirements for licensure except for passing their licensure exams ever be required to go back and pass those exams? 

According to current guidelines, candidates for licensure who have met all requirements on or before December 31, 2021, will not be required to retroactively meet the testing criterion. However, please remain mindful that applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure. 
 
27. If a teacher candidate who met all other requirements for licensure 10 years ago except for passing his/her licensure exams be able to get their 5-year renewable license now? 

Applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application for admission is received by the approved educator preparation provider. In addition, applicants shall meet requirements in effect on the date the complete application for licensure is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure.

28. I have completed a specialist in administration and was planning to take the SLLA to add the endorsement to my license. Is it true the SLLA has been waived and that I may add that endorsement without the test? 

The test suspension includes Praxis Core Academic Skills for Educators (Praxis Core), ACT, SAT, Praxis Subject Assessments, Foundations of Reading, Principles of Learning and Teaching (PLT), School Leaders Licensure Assessment, and ALL other tests that make up the Mississippi Administrator and Educator Testing Program. Please remain mindful that all other criteria for obtaining licensure in the area of Administrator shall be met prior to the issuance of the license.      

29. I am seeking to add the 154 math 7-12 endorsement to my standard five-year license. Can the 154 mathematics endorsement now be added by 18 hours of coursework just as other endorsements can be added, per the new requirement established in February of this year? If the 154 endorsement can now be added by coursework, would my EDEL 403 Math Elem Sch course that I completed at the University of Mississippi (Fall 2011) as part of my professional education courses count towards my 18 hours?

Recent COVID-19 policy related revisions granted by the Mississippi State Board of Education did not include modifications to the current guidelines for obtaining licensure endorsements by 18 hours of acceptable coursework.

30. I am seeking to add the non-practicing administrator endorsement to my license. My transcript from the university where I completed my master's degree in Educational Leadership is already on file with MDE. I just attempted to go through the application section of ELMS in order to apply for the endorsement; however, I cannot get beyond the initial screen with the 6 yes/no questions. What steps do I need to take to add the administrator endorsement to my license?

In order to receive a license in the area of Administrator, the applicant must be recommended by the institution of higher education/approved educator preparation provider from which the appropriate degree was earned. The institutional program verification recommendation serves as but one criterion in the multi-step licensure process. Please visit mdek12.org/OEL to obtain additional information. 

31. Will an applicant for the Five-Year Standard Mississippi Educator License who was unconditionally admitted to an undergraduate traditional teacher education preparation program on or prior to December 31, 2021, under the State Board of Education’s COVID-19 program admission test rule suspension, but, did not complete the program until after that date, be required to retroactively meet the program admission requirement as one condition for the issuance of the Five-Year Standard Mississippi Educator License at the time the completed licensure application is received by the MDE? 

An applicant for licensure who completed a traditional teacher preparation program, who was unconditionally admitted to an undergraduate traditional teacher preparation program under the State Board of Education’s COVID-19 program admission test rule suspension on or before December 31, 2021, will not be held to program admission testing requirement as established in Miss. Code Ann. § 37-3-2 provided a complete application for licensure is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before December 31, 2023. 

32. Will an applicant for the Three-Year Alternate Route Nonrenewable Internship License or the Five-Year Standard Mississippi Educator License who was unconditionally admitted to a nontraditional (alternate route) teacher education preparation program on or prior to December 31, 2021, under the State Board of Education’s COVID-19 program admission test rule suspension, but, did not complete the program until after that date, be required to retroactively meet the program admission requirement as one condition for the issuance of the Three-Year Alternate Route Nonrenewable Internship License or the Five-Year Standard Mississippi Educator License at the time the completed licensure application is received by the MDE?   

An applicant for licensure who completed a nontraditional (alternate route) teacher preparation program, who was unconditionally admitted to a nontraditional (alternate route) teacher preparation program under the State Board of Education’s COVID-19 program admission test rule suspension on or before December 31, 2021, will not be subject to meeting the testing requirement as established in Miss. Code Ann. § 37-3-2 and/or State Board of Education for the issuance of the Three-Year Alternate Route Nonrenewable Internship License or the Five-Year Standard Mississippi Educator License, provided a complete application for licensure is received in the MDE Division of Educator Licensure on or before July 31, 2022. 

 

For additional guidance on Educator Licensure, view the April 3, 2020 webinar, COVID19 Changes Impacting Licensure and Educator Preparation Programs, and the associated back-up material for Licensure and Education Preparation.

 

Educator Preparation

1. For the spring of 2020, acknowledging school closures based on COVID-19, will there be accommodations made regarding the minimum number of weeks of student teaching required for program completion?   

On March 26, 2020 during its Special-Called Meeting, the Mississippi State Board of Education granted approval to the MDE to issue a one-year suspension of the requirement that students shall successfully complete a minimum of 12 weeks of full day student teaching for program completion for spring 2020 prospective program completers, by allowing candidates’ virtual experiences to be acceptable for a portion of the minimum 12 weeks of the required student teaching. The MDE will continue to work collaboratively with Education Preparation Providers (EPPs) to determine the acceptable experiences necessary for student teaching and demonstration of teaching competency prior to licensure. 

2. May universities recommend undergraduate candidates for certification if the candidates were unable to complete student teaching hours or the yearlong residency? 

Yes. If school or university closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak prevent undergraduate candidates from completing the required number of student teaching hours, universities may recommend candidates for certification so long as they have successfully completed their courses. Each university will have its own policy relative to successful completion of courses during this time.

For additional guidance on Educator Preparation, view the April 3, 2020 webinar, COVID19 Changes Impacting Licensure and Educator Preparation Programs, and the associated back-up material for Licensure and Education Preparation.

 

English Learners

1. How do we support English Learners during the extended school closure?
To support educators working with English learners, the MDE has created guidance for distance learning that focuses on adapting instructional strategies related to the four language domains and best practices for EL students in a distance learning situation. This resource also provides guidance on issues related to Language Service Plans and SET meetings during distance learning. The document is posted on the MDE website.     

 

Federal Programs

1. With schools and businesses closing, will we continue to be reimbursed our Federal Funds once we resume? 

We have not been notified by ED of any pause in reimbursements. 

2. Will funds be frozen?  

We do not anticipate a change with districts receiving funds. 

3. Districts that have been scheduled for monitoring, still receive a monitoring visit? 

Monitoring for ESSA programs will be paused until LEAs are open and operational. The Office of Federal Programs staff members are working from home and following up with LEAs regarding outstanding corrective actions. If you are unable to respond because you are away from the office, we asked that you please do so once LEAs are open and operational.  

I have purchased Chromebooks using Title I funds. I have never allowed these to be taken off campus for several reasons, i.e., increased risk of being lost or stolen, damaged, not returned, etc.)  Under the current circumstances would it be allowable to for a student to be issued one of these devices to use.  We are not doing anything new all students are going to do will be enrichment or remediation type activities which could just as easily be done with pencil and paper. 

Distance learning is certainly allowable; we just asked that the district follow the policy/procedure regarding equipment checkout. If the district does not have any policy/procedure regarding equipment checkout, especially for students, then we would recommend having some type of written documents as evidence of equipment check-out.

 

21st Century Community Learning Centers

1. We are planning alternative ways to engage our scholars due to the school closings, are we allowed to still provide STEM enrichment virtually?  If so, can we pay our afterschool staff for providing STEM instructions online via webinars?   

Afterschool program staff may continue to be paid with 21st CCLC grant funds, for work including remote work at the discretion of the supervisory leadership in service to your local 21st CCLC projects.  Hours worked should remain commensurate to the need. Also, documentation of all 21st CCLC program related activities must be maintained and provided upon MDE’s request. In addition, Federal Supplement not Supplant provisions remain in force. 

Allowable work includes: 

  • Virtual staff meetings (conference calls, Zoom meetings, Skype, etc.) 

  • 21st CCLC Curriculum work 

  • 21st CCLC Lesson plan development  

  • 21st CCLC program data entry/validation 

  • Online professional development 

  • Systems planning work (e.g., summer programs, evaluation, sustainability, safety, budgeting) 

  • On-line programming for youth that may be reasonable and necessary 

  • Other expectations and associated job tasks listed in job descriptions that are reasonable and necessary during the closure period 

21st CCLC Grantees are to request permission in writing to participate in the allowable work activities above. All requests should be submitted via email to Chris Norwood, 21st CCLC Coordinator, at crnorwood@mdek12.org.

 

Gifted Education Programs

1. Service to Students: How should our district provide gifted program services to students during a period of extended school closure? 

  • Districts may provide assignments and activities to families based on the Outcomes for Gifted Education Programs 
  • Parents may opt the students out of receiving gifted classroom assignments during the extended closure 
  • Assignments and activities can be distributed digitally or through work packets 

2. Gifted Student Identification: How should our district complete the gifted identification process? 

  • If the district has completed annual universal screening, it may proceed with the referral process. Subjective measures can be completed with teachers/parents via phone or teleconference if needed. 
     
  • If the district has not completed universal screening as planned, the screening should be postponed until classes resume. Once school is on its normal schedule:
    • Screening should be scheduled and completed as quickly as possible  
    • Following the screening, the gifted student identification process should be expedited  
    • As districts schedule events as schools plan to reopen, they should ensure that a grade level is not missed in the universal screening for gifted identification. 
    • The universal screening provision within the Regulations for Gifted Education Programs 2013 assures that every student in Mississippi is screened for potential identification at least once during their academic career.  
       
  • Individual Referrals: Districts may collect individual referrals for students in any grade level during an extended school closure, including:
    • Students who did not pass the universal screener when it was administered.  
    • Students in the grade level in which universal screening was postponed. 
    • Subjective measures may be collected from teachers and parents virtually, via phone or teleconference per the publisher. 
    • Districts may schedule individual assessments once government officials lift social distancing or shelter-in-place requirements. 
    • Once these steps are completed, the district shall follow the gifted identification process as prescribed by the Regulations for Gifted Education 2013. 

3. Gifted Student Placement: If a student is ruled eligible for a gifted program for services during an extended school closure, how should they be placed in the program? 

If a student is ruled eligible for a gifted program for services during an extended school closure, permission to place should be collected from the parents and the student should be served as all other identified gifted students in the district. This includes inclusion in telelearning environments and receipt of activities and assignments.  

4. Gifted Program Monitoring: Should districts plan for gifted program monitoring

Regularly scheduled gifted program monitoring will not be conducted during extended school closures. Once schools return to in person service models, monitoring visits will be scheduled/rescheduled with ample time given to districts to prepare for the visit. 

 

Graduation Requirements and Earning High School Credits (Carnegie Units)

1. Will seniors be able to graduate in 2020?

Current seniors who meet all district and state requirements may graduate this school year. The requirement that students take end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, English II, Biology and U.S. History has been suspended for seniors because these assessments cannot be administered in spring 2020. Statewide, students are required to earn a minimum of 24 Carnegie units to graduate.  

2. If state and federal assessments are not being administered, how will students meet graduation requirements? 

Any student grades 7 through 12 enrolled in school during the 2019 – 2020 school year as of March 16, 2020, the first date of school closures due to COVID-19, that has passed the Algebra I, Biology, English II, and/or U.S. History course(s), but has not passed the corresponding EOC subject area test(s) or met one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the test(s), will be allowed to graduate, if all other state and local graduation requirements have been met. 

See backup material (item 1) from the March 26, 2020 meeting of the State Board of Education for details regarding graduation requirements (Process Standard 14) for students impacted by the suspension of state and federal assessments due to the COVID-19 school closures. 

3. What students are exempt from ever having to take or pass the Algebra I, Biology, English II and/or U. S. History end of course assessment(s)? 

Answers (please read each one) 

  1. Any student grades 7 through 12 that is enrolled in Algebra I, Biology, English II and/or U. S. History during the 2019 – 2020 school year and earns the Carnegie Unit credit will not be required to take and/or pass the corresponding EOC subject area test(s) or meet one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the test(s) in order to meet the graduation requirements regardless of their expected graduation date/year. 

    Clarification: The student will need to have earned the Carnegie unit credit prior to the end of the 2019 – 2020 school year before the summer MSIS data submission deadline. If the Carnegie unit for the course is not earned by the end of the Spring 2020 semester or prior to the summer MSIS data submission deadline through credit recovery, extended school year, and/or summer school, etc., this rule suspension will not apply. 

  2. Any student grades 7 through 12 enrolled in school during the 2019 – 2020 school year as of March 16, 2020, the first date of school closures due to COVID-19, that has passed (earned the Carnegie Unit credit) the Algebra I, Biology, English II, and/or U.S. History course(s) prior to or during the 2019 – 2020 school year, but has not passed  the corresponding EOC subject area test(s) or met one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the test(s), will be allowed to graduate, if all other state and local graduation requirements have been met regardless of their expected graduation date/year. These students are typically referred to as “retesters”.  

  3. Any student in grades 7 through 12 who took a Fall 2019 EOC assessment as a first-time test taker (4x4 districts) and failed the corresponding EOC assessment will not be required to re-take the corresponding EOC assessment or meet one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the test(s), in any future school year to meet graduation requirements regardless of their expected graduation date/year. 

  4. Any student enrolled in Algebra I, Biology, English II, or U.S. History in the 2019 – 2020 school year who fails the course (does not earn the Carnegie Unit credit) in the 2019 – 2020 school year and must repeat the course in the 2020 – 2021 school year (or thereafter) to earn the Carnegie Unit credit will be required to pass the corresponding EOC assessment or meet one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the assessment as outlined in Appendix A-5.   

  1. Any student currently enrolled in school in the 2019 – 2020 school year who earned a Carnegie Unit credit in Algebra I, Biology, English II or U.S. History in a school year prior to 2019 – 2020, but took the assessment as a first time test taker in the Fall 2019 or was planning to take the assessment as a first-time test taker in Spring 2020 will not be required to take and/or pass the EOC assessment or meet one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the assessment when school reconvenes regardless of their expected graduation date/year. 

  1. The composite score option outlined in Appendix A-5 will not be available to students who do not have four (4) EOC subject area test scores. 

  1. Students who are not currently enrolled in the 2019 – 2020 school year, but are still attempting to meet the graduation requirements through re-test opportunities will be required to pass the EOC assessment or meet one (1) of the options in lieu of passing the assessment as outlined in Appendix A-5. 

Clarification: “Enrolled” refers to students enrolled in a public school (in or out of state) or a nonpublic school accredited by the MDE or other regionally accrediting agency to be determined by the local school district.  Students transferring from a public school (in or out of state) or a nonpublic school accredited by the MDE or other regionally accrediting agency to be determined by the local school district may enroll in a subject area tested course unit bearing course after March 16, 2020, the first date of school closures due to COVID-19, if the student was previously enrolled in the course in his/her transferring school. (April 10, 2020)

4. How are Carnegie units addressed under minutes requirements? Will Carnegie credit be awarded by grade only? 

The MDE is suspending the requirement of the minimum of 140 hours of instruction required for each Carnegie unit of credit offered and 70 hours for each one-half (½) unit offered. School districts shall determine a process for awarding a Carnegie unit credit for courses that are incomplete for school year 2019-20. Carnegie units shall not be granted for courses where the student was never enrolled during the 2019-20 school year.  Districts may not enroll a student in a Carnegie unit bearing course after March 16, 2020, the first date of school closures due to COVID-19, for the sole purpose of awarding a Carnegie unit credit, unless one (1) of the following conditions are met:  

  1. the district is on a 4x4 block schedule and the student is taking a one-half (½) credit course, or  
  1. the student is enrolling in an approved online course through Mississippi Online Course Approval (MOCA) with the expectation that the student will complete the course by the end of the Spring 2020 semester. 

The conditions outlined above are not applicable to transfer students enrolling in a school district on or after March 16, 2020. 

Clarification:  Students transferring from a public school (in or out of state) or a nonpublic school accredited by the MDE or other regionally accrediting agency to be determined by the local school district may enroll in a Carnegie unit bearing course after March 16, 2020, the first date of school closures due to COVID-19, if the student was previously enrolled in the course in his/her transferring school. (April 10, 2020)

Based on approved school board policy, local school districts have the authority to issue a standard high school diploma to any student who meets the minimum graduation requirements as approved by the State Board of Education. See Appendix A in Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards, 2019. 

5. Will students still have to meet the Carnegie Unit credit requirements outlined in Process Standard 14.1 and the Appendices of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards, 2019? 

Due to the impact of school closures related to COVID-19, the MDE will suspend citations associated with changing local school board graduation requirements mid-year. The local school board has the authority to suspend and/or amend the graduation requirements set forth by the local school board for the 2019-2020 school year. In no circumstance shall a student be allowed to graduate with less than the minimum number of Carnegie units set forth by the State Board of Education and outlined in Appendix A. 

Clarification:  Local districts may establish additional local requirements approved by the local school board as authorized under Miss. Code Ann. § 37-16-7.  Local districts have the option of granting high school diplomas as outlined in Appendices A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4.  The waivers granted by the State Board of Education allow districts to amend or establish local board policy to waive additional requirements above the state minimum and allow students to graduate using the minimum requirements outlined in Appendices A-1, A-2, A-3, and A-4. 

6. Will students who began the 2019-20 school year as an 11th grader but chose the Appendix A-1 option to graduate and were on track to graduate in May fall into the same category as the seniors who were on track to graduate in May? 

Any student grades 7 through 12 enrolled in school during the 2019 – 2020 school year as of March 16, 2020, the first date of school closures due to COVID-19, who has passed (earned the Carnegie Unit credit) the Algebra I, Biology, English II, and/or U.S. History course(s) prior to or during the 2019 – 2020 school year, but has not passed the corresponding EOC subject area test(s) or met one of the options in lieu of passing the test(s), will be allowed to graduate, if all other state and local graduation requirements have been met regardless of their expected graduation date/year. The Appendix A-1 option ends with 9th graders of 2017-18. 

For additional guidance on Graduation Requirements, view the April 3, 2020 webinar, COVID19 Changes Impacting Accountability, Assessment, Graduation, and Course Grades, and the associated back-up material.  

 

Guidance About Personal Protection and Hygiene

  • Basic infection control in school settings should always be promoted and maintained.
  • Hand hygiene - Students and staff should be encouraged to wash hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing. If soap and water is unavailable, sanitizers may be used.
    Kids Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJG72sycQB8
    Printable: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/campaign.html
     
  • Respiratory etiquette - MSDH and CDC recommend covering the nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or a shirt sleeve or elbow if no tissue is available) and throwing the tissue in the trash after use, followed by hand washing.
    Kids Video: https://youtu.be/mQINuSTP1jI
    Printable: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/pdf/protect/cdc_cough.pdf
     
  • Routine Cleaning - School staff should routinely clean areas that students and staff touch often with the cleaners they typically use. Cleaning should take place immediately if there is contamination of surfaces with blood, stool or vomit.  CDC recommends personal protective equipment as part of universal precautions when cleaning body fluid spills.
    CDC Instructions: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm
     
  • Separate ill students and staff - Students and staff who seem to have flu symptoms should be separated from others until they can be sent home. CDC recommends personal protective equipment as part of universal precautions when caring for infected individuals.
     
  • Stay home when sick - Those with flu like symptoms, including respiratory symptoms, should stay home from work or school and seek medical attention if the symptoms get worse. This includes uncontrolled temperature, difficulty breathing, worsening headache, unusual muscle weakness or seizure activity. Remain home until fever has been gone for at least 24 hours without the use of fever reducing medications.
     
  • Responding to Viruses in Schools
     
  • Lesson Plans for Dealing with Communicable Diseases
     

Intervention Services

1. How should we conduct our teacher support team meetings during this time?  

Whether or not a meeting is conducted will be determined by the number of weeks the school/district is closed as well as the time of year.  For example, if a school is closed for 3-5 weeks, meetings may be suspended until faculty and staff return. However, in a situation such as this extended closure in which students will not return for the remainder of the school year, it is recommended that districts hold virtual end-of-year meetings to review data and create end-of-year notes to be used when making decisions regarding student placement for the fall. When school resumes in the fall, meetings will be held to make decisions regarding Tier placement, utilizing available data in the decision-making process. 

2. What intervention support should be provided to students receiving Tier II or Tier III supports?  

During this time districts are encouraged to send home online access to any intervention programs that students are utilizing at school. They are also encouraged to send home any reading materials that can be used to reinforce interventions that the student received before the break. The reading materials should be on their reading level so as not cause frustration for the student. 

3. Will there be an extension for the kindergarten dyslexia screener due to the students being out of school?  

Due to the schools being closed, the kindergarten dyslexia screener will be waived for this school year. If you have already completed the kindergarten screener, please submit that data.

4. What supports should be provided to students receiving Tier II or Tier III intervention?   

During this time, districts are encouraged to send home online access to any intervention programs that students are utilizing at school, if available. Districts should also provide reading materials that can be used to reinforce interventions that the student received before the break. The reading materials should be on the student’s reading level so as not cause frustration for the student. 

5. How can districts support students receiving more intensive interventions such as dyslexia therapy?  

If possible, therapists should send home a copy of the card decks students use during dyslexia therapy so that parents can continue to review them with students. Districts should also send home packets of oral language skills, phonological awareness skills, and letter tiles for students to work on their alphabetizing skills. The goal is to offer supports that parents can provide to their students while they are at home. It is not recommended that they introduce new skills, but rather review the previously taught skills. Therapists may also provide recordings of themselves to show parents how to practice certain skills with their children. 

6. If a district is using an online resource for all students, what should be done for students in Tier II or Tier III? 

It is essential that specific deficit areas are on the student’s dashboard/assignment list for Tier II and Tier III. Documentation for how the student is progressing in those deficit areas is provided through the resource.

7. How can a district support students who do not have access to online interventions due to lack of a device or lack of access to the internet? 

Support should be given to students through paper printouts specifically related to the deficit area if they do not have access to the online intervention. Determine if the district has a technology “check-out” policy for devices or hotspots that can be utilized by students during extended school closure. 

8. What resources should a district provide for students receiving intervention? 

Consider sending home typical manipulatives used by students such as counters, geoboards, or other math materials. These types of materials might also be in the form of materials made by the school (e.g., counters made from construction paper cut into pieces). Additional resources might include decodable or leveled readers.

9. What types of data can be used for documenting student growth when making decisions while students are out of school? 

Acceptable data may include information such as reports from online interventions, collected and scored paper/pencil assignments specific to deficit areas, and/or student performance on virtual face-to-face assessments. These data points can be used for documenting student growth and decision making while students are out of school. 

 

Learning-at-Home Resources for Families

The resources on the Learning-at-Home pages are designed to provide supplementary learning materials for when students are out of school for extended time.

 

Literacy

1. Are coaching supports currently being provided to literacy support districts and schools to assist with distance learning?  

Yes. MDE literacy coaches are providing supports to literacy support schools through virtual coaching. Supports include leveraging resources for working parents, hosting virtual professional learning opportunities for teachers, and assisting with Learning-at-Home resources, available online at https://mdek12.org/LearningAtHome.  

 

MSIS and OTSS Support

Monthly MSIS Student Data 

  • All districts will continue to submit their monthly student data to MSIS.  Because schools are currently closed, OTSS will open the Month 7 Student Data Submission window on March 18th for early submission, but the deadline to complete Month 7 will remain April 10th. 

MSIS and the District Events Calendar 

  • For reporting of any days of closure due the ongoing state of emergency, please use the code “COVID-19”. 

Recording Attendance  

  • For every instructional calendar day throughout the governor-declared state of emergency, all students should be marked as “present”. 

OTSS Support 

  • If districts have MSIS questions or require MSIS support, please send an email to mdeapps@mdek12.org and please include a contact number.  An OTSS staff member will respond. 

  • If districts have SharePoint questions or require SharePoint support (e.g., I cannot log in, I need help uploading a file), please send an email to mdenet@mdek12.org and please include a contact number. An OTSS staff member will respond. 

E-Rate Form 471 Deadline 

  • The FCC sent a notification to USAC to extend the Form 471 window until April 29, 2020.  All forms must be submitted by 11:59pm EDT (10:59pm CDT).  This gives you an additional 35 days to submit your Form 471. 
     

School Closures and Reopening

Background on School Closures:

Gov. Tate Reeves on April 14, 2020, directed all Mississippi schools to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus). Schools will continue to receive funding, and teachers and school staff will continue to be paid. Local school districts are responsible for deciding whether staff report to school facilities.

CDC Guidance on Reopening:

CDC: CONSIDERATIONS FOR SCHOOLS - Released May 19, 2020

As some communities in the United States open K-12 schools, CDC offers the following considerations for ways in which schools can help protect students, teachers, administrators, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19. 

CDC INTERIM GUIDANCE FOR SCHOOLS AND DAY CAMPS - Released May 17, 2020 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has posted more detailed interim guidance on the reopening of physical child care programs and schools and day camps. This guidance is meant to supplement the decision tools CDC released on May 14, 2020. It lists specific practices that employers may find helpful at particular stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

1. What steps should a district take to reopen buildings after a prolonged shutdown or reduced operation? The CDC has recommendations to ensure the safety of occupants and the operation of building systems (HVAC and water), online at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/building-water-system.html.

2. Is a deep cleaning required upon reopening a school? According to the CDC website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/reopen-guidance.html), if your workplace, school, or business has been unoccupied for 7 days or more, it will only need your normal routine cleaning to reopen the area. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.

 

School Improvement

1. What is the expectation for presentation of the Monthly Update for schools identified as Comprehensive Support and Improvement (CSI), Targeted Support and Improvement (TSI), Additional Targeted and Support and Improvement (ATSI), and Schools At Risk (SAR)? 

The required components of the Monthly Update template cannot be addressed during the period of school closure established by the Governor’s Executive Order.  Therefore, monthly updates during the local school board meeting (virtual or in person) are waived until districts and schools return to normal operations.  

2. If an LEA was scheduled to be monitored during the months of March, April, or May, will the monitoring proceed as planned? 

Monitoring is a required process for sub-recipients of Title I School Improvement (1003) and competitively awarded School Improvement Grants (SIG).  Therefore, monitoring is postponed until additional guidance is available following districts and schools return to normal operations. 

3. If an LEA wants to know the status of its MCAPS school improvement application or revision, who will the district contact during the time the MDE is working remotely? 

Federal Programs directors should contact A’Lisa Bryant at abryant@mdek12.org or Re’Nona Jackson rjackson@mdek12.org.  Your questions will be routed to the appropriate contact.  In addition, district MCAPS personnel will continue to be updated through the MCAPS notification system when changes have been made to the district’s school improvement application. 

4. If an LEA who implements a School Improvement Grant (SIG) 1003g wants to submit or know the status of a school’s revision, has specific questions on grant implementation or established deadlines, who will the district contact during the time the MDE is working remotely? 

The School Improvement Grant (SIG) Officer should contact Shakinna Patterson at  spatterson@mdek12.org.

 

School Nutrition Program Meal Service

  • MDE has received approval from USDA for schools eligible for the Summer Food Service Schools may serve non-congregate meals, such as grab and go meals, during the Coronavirus emergency. The OCN has implemented an expedited approval process to allow schools to begin serving meals as quickly as possible. A list of schools serving meals and other information may be found here: www.mdek12.org/OCN
  • It is at the discretion of each school district whether to serve meals while schools are closed. Districts may choose which schools will serve meals, what meal types will be served, and the times of meal service. Parents should check with their local district for the most current information about meals in their area.
  • The MDE is in constant communication with schools, USDA, and other stakeholders regarding providing nutritious meals to MS children during this emergency. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

School Nutrition Program Meal Service Q&A 

1.    May schools serve meals during closures related to the coronavirus? 

Yes. In anticipation of school closures, the MDE Office of Child Nutrition (OCN) has secured two waivers from the USDA. These waivers allow all schools to serve meals to students during an unanticipated school closure through provisions of the Summer Food Service (SFSP) 

2.    Is it mandatory that meals be provided during a school closure? 

No. However, SFAs are encouraged to support the needs of Mississippi children, especially those who are economically disadvantaged, as there may be limited access to food during extended periods of school closure. 

3.    How do schools apply to serve meals during closures related to the coronavirus? 

The OCN has implemented an expedited two step approval process to allow schools to begin serving meals as quickly as possible. 

Before serving meals, the School Food Authority (SFA) must complete Step 1 of the Unanticipated School Closure approval process, details may be found here: www.mdek12.org/OCN 

Step 2, completion of the full agreement in MARS, will occur when all initial requests have been processed. SFAs may begin the MARS application process immediately if they choose. 

4.       May schools serve grab-and-go meals? 

Yes, Schools may serve non-congregate meals, such as grab and go meals, during the coronavirus emergency.  The United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) has waived the requirement at 7 CFR 225.6(e)(15) that meals be served and consumed in a congregate setting, in order to support any social distancing requested by Federal, State, or local authorities. 

5.    Can a school with less than 50% free and reduced-price eligibility participate? 

Yes, for dismissed schools with less than 50% free or reduced enrollment, meal distribution methods must more directly target the households of enrolled children who are eligible for free or reduced priced meals. It is recommended to use a roster or take children’s names of enrolled students when they receive a meal(s). As much as possible, continue with standard POS practices.   

6.    How can a school with less than 50% free and reduced-price eligibility target economically disadvantaged children without overtly identifying those children as eligible for free or reduced-price meals? 

This will depend in large part on how SFAs intend to provide meals and should be described in the method of meal distribution on From B. For example, meal distribution sites might be located in areas that are easily accessible to low-income children while avoiding identification of individual children as low income. Bus routes may be implemented in lower income areas. Reminders that free meals are available during the school closure may be sent to the parents of all F/R eligible students.   

Reminder: Requests to operate sites 50% free and reduced-price eligibility must be approved by OCN before meals are served.  

7.    What are the requirements for the meals? 

The meals must meet the regular menu planning requirements of the SFSP.  Offer versus serve (OVS) will not apply and all meals must be unitized, meaning a complete reimbursable meal that meets the requirements of the menu planning method used, including milk, must be distributed. Shelf-stable milk may be used. USDA commodity foods may also be used. If availability of milk or other meal components becomes an issue, contact Bill Urban burban@mdek12.org OCN will work with USDA for possible waivers or other flexibilities should food availability become an issue.      

8.    How many meals per child may be offered each day? May supper be provided?  

The maximum number of meals that may be offered remains the same as under the SFSP: up to two meals, or one meal and one snack, per child, per day, in any combination except lunch and supper for open or closed enrolled sites. SFAs/Sponsors may serve breakfast, lunch, snack or supper in any combination except lunch and supper. 

9.    Can meals be distributed for more than one day?  

OCN may approve a distribution approach that includes meals for multiple days per week. OCN will consider the capacity of the SFAs to execute such an approach effectively, including meeting food safety requirements. Such distribution requires prior approval, in writing, by OCN. 

10. What distribution methods are envisioned for Coronavirus (COVID-19) meal service, and what logistical issues should be considered?    

We anticipate meal distribution methods will involve pick up or delivery models in order to meet the need for social distancing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) unanticipated school closures. If employing a method other than Grab and Go, delivery methods must be documented in the SFA’s Unanticipated School Closure Form B: https://www.mdek12.org/OCN 

Options may include using a vehicle to deliver meals based on the usual bus route, drive-thru windows or stations, and other options that support the service of safe and wholesome reimbursable meals to students. 

11.  Are transportation costs eligible for reimbursement in the event that school systems decide to deliver meals? 

No, there is no mechanism for reimbursement of transportation costs. While an allowable expense for the SFSP, funds available for transportation will be minimal after food, supplies, and labor costs. 

12. Can the LEA use school buses to deliver meals to students during unanticipated closure?  

Yes, LEAs may choose to use school buses to deliver meals to students during periods of unanticipated school closure. Please coordinate with your Superintendent and Transportation Director to ensure compliance with laws that govern the use of buses.  

13.  Is notification to households still required during this time?  

Yes. Schools must notify households of the availability of meals at specified sites and times through normal means (i.e. flyers posted at schools, school system websites, etc.). 

14. What are some suggested solutions for staffing sites during the coronavirus (COVID-19) school closure?  

SFAs/Sponsors are encouraged to collaborate with a variety of school, civic, governmental and community organizations for help with serving eligible children. Some suggestions include Police and Fire Departments, hunger solution organizations, teachers, parents, and other volunteers. Basic food safety instructions and precautions should be provided to anyone who will assist with meal delivery.  

15. With the potential for school nutrition staff shortages, and the need for students to be fed, can other staff assist with prepping and serving meals? Volunteers, teachers, etc.? 

Yes, according to the Food Code, "Employee" means the PERMIT HOLDER, PERSON IN CHARGE, FOOD EMPLOYEE, PERSON having supervisory or management duties, PERSON on the payroll, family member, volunteer, PERSON performing work under contractual agreement, or other PERSON working in a FOOD ESTABLISHMENT. Reminder: only employees and volunteers directly involved in the production and distribution of meals will be eligible for “in-kind” meals.                                                                                                                                                        

It is prudent for the Person-in-Charge (PIC) to use the HACCP Plan new employee checklist or some other training tool with any volunteer employee to ensure some level of basic food safety instruction.

16. Since Gov. Tate Reeves issued a shelter-in-place order on April 1, what is the recommendation for districts for feeding students?  

On April 1, 2020, Gov. Tate Reeves issued Executive Order 1466 directing Mississippians to shelter in place and non-essential businesses to cease. The order directed “Essential Business or Operations to Remain Open.” The shelter-in-place order begins at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3, 2020, and ends at 8 a.m. Monday, April 20, 2020.  

Executive Order 1466 references the previously released Executive Order 1463, which defines essential businesses/operations. Executive Order 1463 specifically names the preparation and delivery of school meals as an essential function. Further, Executive Order 1466 allows for meals to be served by drive through, curbside or delivery methods, which have been implemented by Mississippi schools. With this in mind, school meal programs should remain open whenever possible to aid the community during this emergency. 

Mississippi has a high percentage of students who are eligible for Free or Reduced meals and rely on the nourishment provided by school nutrition programs. We strongly encourage each of you to continue to provide this essential service to a vulnerable population, Mississippi’s children. We understand there are concerns about protecting staff and anxiety that schools might be a source of spreading the virus. We recommend that you to discuss any concerns with the Mississippi State Department of Health, especially if considering closing sites. The MDE understands these are difficult decisions for local district superintendents and will defer to their judgment regarding school meal programs. 

 

Special Education

Services for Students with Disabilities During School Closures

Questions and Answers for Districts
As new information is made available, the MDE Office of Special Education will post additional guidance to this Q&A list. New updates will be noted by date. 


March 17, 2020: Questions 1-8

1. Should a student with disabilities be receiving special education services during the school closures?

Based on guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special if the district is not providing educational services to students during the closure, then there is not a requirement to provide special education services to students with disabilities during the same time period.
 

2. If the LEA provides formalized educational services through online instruction to the general student population, would the LEA be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period? 

Yes. If a LEA continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. (34 CFR §§ 104.4, 104.33 (Section 504) and 28 CFR § 35.130 (Title II of the ADA)). SEAs, LEAs, and schools must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504. (34 CFR §§ 300.101 and 300.201 (IDEA), and 34 CFR § 104.33 (Section 504). It is important to note that if educational services are being delivered to students in any form, in order for the district to remain open, those services must be provided to all students, including students who don’t have access to technology at home and students receiving special education services.
 

3. How will special education services be provided during school closures?

If the district is not providing educational services to students during the closure, then there is not a requirement to provide special education services to students with disabilities during the same time period. However, the delivery of special education services will be determined by each local school district.
 

4. If an LEA determines that they want to provide special education services during the school closures, what should they do?

The student’s IEP Committee, or the personnel responsible for ensuring FAPE to a student for the purposes of IDEA, can be utilized to assist with the effort to determine if some, or all, of the identified services can be provided through alternate or additional methods. Accessible technology may afford students, including students with disabilities, an opportunity to have access to high-quality educational instruction during an extended school closure, especially when continuing education must be provided through distance learning. Many of the online learning options available to districts have accommodations embedded in lessons. Each student’s special education needs should be determined on an individual basis and outlined in the student’s IEP.

5. What will happen if a student is not able to receive certain special education services during school closures?

Based on the current circumstances and the highly individualized nature of special education services it is possible that in some cases it may be very difficult to fully implement a student’s IEP. If that is the case, IEP Committees should make every effort to meet and make any necessary revisions or additions to the student’s IEP.
 
Any need for compensatory services related to school closure or inability to fully implement a student’s IEP can be addressed after school resumes and should be addressed on a case-by- case basis. This might include discussions of compensatory education and extended school year (ESY) services, made on a case-by-case basis. When your district resumes standard operations, the district should collect student data to determine any student progression or regression on annual IEP goals. This data can be used to inform IEP Committee decisions and assist in compensatory service decisions.
 

6. What should I do if a student’s IEP will expire during school closures?

Districts should consider ways to use distance technology (e.g., Zoom, conference calls, Skype, etc.) to the extent possible to provide annual IEP meetings if staff and parents are available but not able to attend in person. If staff and/or parents are not available or believe their participation is impacted by the lack of an in-person meeting, districts should document the reason. IEP Committee meetings may take place while schools are closed as long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. Each student decision should be handled on a case-by-case issue. 
 

7. What should I do if a student had an evaluation/eligibility meeting that was scheduled during the school closure?

Districts should consider alternate ways to use virtual technology (e.g., Zoom, conference calls, Skype, etc.) to the extent possible to conduct meetings pertaining to evaluation if staff and parents are available but not able to attend in person. If an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. IEP Committee members may contact parents to schedule virtual meetings while schools are closed. These same principles apply to similar activities conducted by appropriate personnel for a student with a disability who has a plan developed under Section 504, or who is being evaluated under Section 504.

8. How should districts communicate with parents concerning expiring timelines, annual, and individual IEP evaluations? 

Districts should communicate the expectation and plan to meet with IEP committees, including parents, virtually, to address student-specific needs resulting from the closure.

March 23, 2020: Questions 9-23

9. Are school districts required to hold an IEP meeting to revise IEPs to reflect a change in services if a district is unable to deliver those services during a school closure due to health and safety concerns?  
 
No. The MDE, OSE understands that the current circumstances will affect how special education and related services are provided, and flexibility will be provided when possible. An IEP Committee should not revise an IEP to remove services that are currently on the IEP solely because the district is unable to provide a particular service due to the circumstances created by school closures and social distancing. Where there has been an inevitable delay in providing services or even making decisions about how to provide services, IEP Committees must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when schools resume normal operations.  

10. Do you have you to amend the IEP to reflect a change in location of services?  
 
No. Online instruction or instruction delivered through supplemental activities is considered an alternate mode of instructional delivery. 

11. Do special education and related services have to be provided if the district is providing educational opportunities through supplemental activities to general education students?  
 
Yes. Districts must ensure the provision of equitable services to all students. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. The determination of how FAPE is to be provided may need to be different in this time of unprecedented national emergency. For example, districts may choose to use “instructional check-ins” as a method of working with students and parents. However, all decisions must be made on an individual basis.  

12. Can special education and related services be delivered online or telephonically? 
 
Yes. The MDE, OSE understands that, during this time, schools may not be able to provide all services in the same manner they are typically provided. While some schools might choose to safely, and in accordance with state law, provide certain IEP services to some students in-person, it may be unfeasible or unsafe for some institutions, during current emergency school closures, to provide certain special education or related services that require hands-on instruction. However, many disability-related modifications and services may be effectively provided online. These may include, for instance, extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing. Service delivery methods must be considered on the basis of individual student needs.  

13. How should districts address the provision of homebound services?  
 
Services should continue when possible without risking the health and safety of the student, student’s family, or service provider. It is understandable that there may be a delay in providing some services or even in making decisions about how to provide those services. The IEP Committee must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when school resumes normal operations. 

14. How should districts address the provision of itinerant services for 3 to 5-year olds?  
 
Services should continue when possible without risking the health and safety of the student, student’s family, or service provider. It is understandable that there may be a delay in providing some services or even in making decisions about how to provide those services. The IEP Committee must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when school resumes normal operations.  

15. Should districts continue to hold ESY meetings?  
 
Districts may continue to conduct ESY meetings virtually or by other methods. The deadline for ESY determinations has been extended. ESY determinations must be received 30 days after all schools resume normal operations. The MDE, OSE will be in communication regarding revised timelines due to the ESY determination extension.  

16. Will all students qualify for ESY based on the current COVID-19 extenuating circumstances?  
 
No. All ESY determinations must be made on an individual basis by each student’s IEP Committee. 

17. Will Educable Child contracts/applications be honored during this time?  
 
Yes. The district must be in communication with the private facility to determine continuation of services. The MDE, OSE will be in contact with districts regarding timelines and pay periods for Educable Child. Ed Child will continue to be funded based on the services provided by the private facility in accordance with the district and the private facility contract. The current process for new and established students will remain the same.  

18. When determining if a student requires compensatory services do those begin immediately or can ESY be utilized as compensatory services? What are some specific examples of compensatory services and how do we pay for these if we have limited resources?  
 
Upon resuming normal operations, the IEP Committee will determine the need for compensatory services on an individual basis. Information and recommendations regarding compensatory services will be forthcoming.  

19. May districts continue to submit FY 19 and FY 20 Revisions via MCAPS as needed?  
 
Yes. MDE OSE staff will continue to review and approve FY 19 and FY20 revisions throughout school closures 

20. How should districts complete the parent survey since IEP meetings are being held via alternate means?  
 
The link to the parent survey may be shared by the district with individual families via email. If the parent does not have access to the internet to complete the parent survey, then the survey may be completed once school resumes normal operations.  

21. If a MET meeting was previously scheduled and the LEA is now closed, will the timeline to conduct the meetings be waived?  
 
To the extent practicable, initial evaluation team reports must be completed within the 60-day mandated timeline as prescribed in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Reviews of the evaluation team report can be completed using a virtual format or via telephone. Participation and required signatures can be documented via email attachment, standard mail, scanned signature, photograph of the signature or any other electronic means. Due to health and safety concerns, if an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation will need to be delayed until the schools resume normal operations. Any delay in meeting timelines should be documented appropriately. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place during school closure, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. These same principles apply to similar activities conducted by appropriate personnel for a student with a disability who has a plan developed under Section 504 or who is being evaluated under Section 504. As is the case with a typical re-evaluation, a district may choose to conduct a records review. This allows the district to update the evaluation without needing to conduct face-to-face assessments and observations. The method of conducting an evaluation team report review and signature collection should be documented in a prior written notice. 

 22. If the annual IEP review dates are required prior to school reopening, will there be a waiver of this timeline?  
 

IEP annual reviews may be completed virtually or via telephone. Participation and required signatures can be documented via email attachment, standard mail, scanned document, photograph of the signature or any other electronic means, and the method of IEP team review and signature collection should be documented in a prior written notice form. If parents do not agree to conducting an annual IEP review via alternate forms of communication, the meeting may be delayed until an agreed upon time and location can be set once schools resume normal operations.  

23. What should a district do if online or distance learning has been assigned and a student does not have access to technology?  
 
It is up to each local district to determine how they will provide an alternate access path for students that do not have the technology to support virtual learning. However, equitable educational opportunities must be provided for all students.   

For additional information, please use the link below to view information from the U.S. Department of Education addressing the protection of student’s Civil Rights during the COVID-19 response: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/USED/bulletins/2817fed

March 26, 2020: Questions 24-27

24. Can the Amendment process be used to revise IEPs?

Yes. IEP Committees may choose to revise IEPs via an amendment. The amendment process requires that all proposed revisions to the IEP be documented on the amendment form. Any revisions must be made with parent input. If the parent is not in agreement with the proposed change or does not choose to use the amendment process, then you must hold an IEP meeting. Once the revisions have been agreed upon by the IEP Committee the revisions must be documented on the IEP and a copy of the revised IEP should be given to the IEP Committee and the parents.

According to the March 21, 2020 guidance provided by OSEP:

Most importantly, in making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency may agree to not convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. 34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(4)(i).

25. Do all required IEP Committee members need to participate in an IEP Committee meeting?

Yes. All required IEP Committee members must be present. Any revisions to the IEP should be made based on the decisions of the IEP Committee. If any IEP Committee members cannot be a part of the decision-making process, then the procedures for excusing IEP Committee members should be followed. (300.321)

26. What are Services?

Services are any special education or related services that are outlined on the IEP. This includes special education services such as specially designed instruction and related services, including, but not limited to, speech/language services, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

27. What does delivery of services of mean?

Delivery of services is the method by which services are provided to students. This may include but is not limited to 1:1 instruction, whole group instruction, and small group instruction, virtual or online education, teletherapy, distance instruction, or telephonically as well as online options for data tracking and documentation.

According to the March 21, 2020 guidance provided by OSEP:

Where technology itself imposes a barrier to access or where educational materials simply are not available in an accessible format, educators may still meet their legal obligations by providing children with disabilities equally effective alternate access to the curriculum or services provided to other students.

Point of Clarification on Revising or Amending IEPs: Guidance provided by MDE OSE regarding the revision of IEPs due to the disruption in services caused by the COVID-19 Health Crisis is that services that cannot feasibly be provided due to the health and safety concerns not be revised/deleted on a student’s IEP. Services may include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided through distance instruction provided virtually, online, or telephonically. If services can continue to be provided virtually, online, or telephonically, a revision to the IEP is not necessary.

According to the March 21, 2020 guidance provided by OSEP:

Where technology itself imposes a barrier to access or where educational materials simply are not available in an accessible format, educators may still meet their legal obligations by providing children with disabilities equally effective alternate access to the curriculum or services provided to other students. For example, if a teacher who has a blind student in her class is working from home and cannot distribute a document accessible to that student, she can distribute to the rest of the class an inaccessible document and, if appropriate for the student, read the document over the phone to the blind student or provide the blind student with an audio recording of a reading of the document aloud. Consider practices such as distance instruction, teletherapy and tele-intervention, meetings held on digital platforms, online options for data tracking, and documentation. In addition, there are low- tech strategies that can provide for an exchange of curriculum-based resources, instructional packets, projects, and written assignments.

Just because services cannot be provided due to the current circumstances does not mean they are no longer necessary. Current services should remain on the IEP and will be used to help IEP Committees determine, if and to what extent compensatory services are necessary once schools resume normal operations. If an IEP Committee chooses to provide some type of intermediary service to students during school closures, such as consulting with parents or online services, the IEP Committee may convene an IEP meeting via technology or utilize the amendment process to add these services to the IEP.

According to the March 21, 2020 guidance provided by OSEP:

As a general principle, during this unprecedented national emergency, public agencies are encouraged to work with parents to reach mutually agreeable extensions of time, as appropriate. FAPE may be provided consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing special education and related services to students. Where, due to the global pandemic and resulting closures of schools, there has been an inevitable delay in providing services – or even making decisions about how to provide services - IEP teams (as noted in the March 12, 2020 guidance) must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed when schools resume normal operations.

April 28, 2020: Questions 28-37 and Information on Compensatory Services and Extended School Year (ESY)

28. Is there any guidance available regarding our vendor contracts? Currently, my contractual vendors for related services are not providing services to students. 

Districts will need to review their contracts with the vendor and abide by the contract that is currently in place. Districts should work with vendors to make any necessary revisions. Payment cannot be made until services are rendered. If contractors continue to work in any capacity during school closures, they must provide documentation of the services that were provided prior to payment. 

29. Can a school district require a related service provider to provide in-person services during the COVID-19 school closures? 

Services provided during school closures should be considered on a case-by case basis and provided at the discretion of the district in accordance with social distancing guidelines issued by the State of Mississippi. Districts should carefully consider the health and safety of related service providers, students, and their families.  

30. Should school districts be providing transportation for students they are implementing in-person services to during this time?

Districts should carefully consider the health and safety of related service providers, students, and their families in accordance with social distancing guidelines issued by the State of Mississippi. If districts are providing in-person services while practicing social distancing guidelines, and the student requires transportation, then the IEP should reflect this service and it should be implemented. 

31. Should school districts document that students were offered educational/enrichment packets during school closures?

All services and efforts, including phone calls, mailings, etc., offered during school closures should be documented. The district may choose to also document when learning packets are picked up by parents.  

32. Does there need to be an IEP amendment page completed to add on a new service if the current services on the IEP page are not able to be completed and the teacher and/or related service providers is going to offer “consultative” services with the parents via phone or technology weekly as a sort of new related service? 

It is the position of MDE OSE that services that cannot feasibly be provided due to the health and safety concerns not be revised or deleted on a student’s IEP. Services may include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided through distance instruction provided virtually, online, or telephonically. If services can continue to be provided virtually, online, or telephonically, a revision to the IEP is not necessary. Ultimately, decisions regarding the provision of services and timelines for students with disabilities should be made by the local school district using the guidance that the district sees fit. The MDE OSE will continue to provide up to date guidance based on additional communication with the USDE, OSEP, CIFR, CCSSO, and other national partners.  

33. If schools remain closed through the summer due to the current health crisis, how will services be provided to students eligible for ESY? The deadline for ESY determinations has been extended. 

Due to the flexibility needed to provide ESY services, deadlines have been adjusted as follows: Previous guidance indicated that Districts would have 30 days after schools open to hold individual student determination meetings.  Due to the fact that schools will not open this school year, the MDE OSE is removing this requirement. 

Determinations must be made prior to the provision of services and the submission of your district’s ESY application.  

  • It is essential that your ESY application is uploaded into Sharepoint and that an email is sent to Roscoe Jones at rjones@mdek12.org once the ESY Application is uploaded.  
  • ESY applications should be uploaded to each district’s SharePoint folder.
  • ESY Applications should be completed based on projected services and will be due June 30, 2020 even if you are providing services prior to June 30, 2020 
  • Amendments will be accepted until August 1, 2020.   
  • Request for Reimbursement forms are due on or before September 30, 2020. 

34. If a district chooses to stop sending enrichment packets to all students, should the IEP be revised to reflect that special education students will not be receiving enrichment packets? 

This should be an IEP Committee decision and handled on a case-by-case basis. If enrichment packets were added to a student’s IEP then it must be determined by the IEP Committee if this special education services should be revised.   

35. How should duration and frequency be documented if a district chooses to revise IEPs to reflect the services that are currently being provided? 

IEP Committees should document the frequency of services based on the decision made by the IEP Committee. Duration should be documented to reflect that services will continue as stated in the IEP until schools resume normal operations and the IEP Committee reconvenes to revise the IEP.   

36. Is student confidentiality being violated if group instruction or services is provided via Zoom or some other platform and family members or others come into the room? 

According to FERPA guidelines regarding a student’s Personally Identifiable Information (PII), school officials (including teachers) should take every precaution to ensure that a student’s private information is not shared with those who are not invested in the student’s education. Best practice is to follow each district’s policy and/or guidelines for distance learning. Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists may refer to the MS Speech-Language-Hearing Association guidelines for telehealth.    

37. Should IEP Teams add extended school year services (ESY) to every child’s IEP as a way to provide compensatory services when schools resume normal operations next school year? 

No. ESY and compensatory services are not synonymous or interchangeable. 

Compensatory Services
Compensatory services are to enable the student to make progress and should be determined after normal school operations resume. Compensatory services should be determined on a case-by-case basis. Districts should examine the effects of the closure on the student’s progress towards their IEP goals. The United States Department of Education understands there may be exceptional circumstances that could affect how a particular service is provided. In addition, an IEP Team and, as appropriate to an individual student with a disability, the personnel responsible for ensuring FAPE to a student for the purposes of Section 504, would be required to make an individualized determination as to whether compensatory services are needed under applicable standards and requirements. 

ESY Services 
Extended School Year (ESY) services are for maintaining skills and are required if the student is eligible for services based on regression and recoupment criteria, critical point of instruction based on documented evidence, or extenuating circumstances that require the student to receive services in order to maintain skills.  The need for ESY should be examined on a case-by-case basis for each student, as required in IDEA. 

Must ESY be provided? Will the federal government step in and issue some form of “hold harmless”? 
All of the federal guidance issued thus far, including the March 21, 2020 Supplemental Fact Sheet, indicates that districts must maintain a free appropriate public education (FAPE) and civil rights for students. Districts should not expect to be “held harmless” with respect to providing ESY services.   

About ESY
ESY is an extension of special education and related services that are provided to students beyond the normal school year.  Students with IEPs must meet eligibility criteria as outlined in SBP Rule 74.12.  ESY services must be provided outside of the school year which allows the potential of providing services from the day after a district’s scheduled school year concludes until the day before school begins in August.  

If ESY determinations have already been completed, the MDE OSE understands that variations in the types of services may occur due to continued social distancing guidelines. Any variation in the delivery of services due to the COVID-19 health crisis will be not require an amendment. Districts should document the actual provision of ESY services.  

ESY services, as outlined on the Extended School Year page of the student’s IEP can be provided in many ways with health and safety taken into consideration. There is no single correct approach, and the actions taken to provide services will vary district by district. Delivery of services may include a combination of providing printed learning materials (packets), online learning options, teletherapy, or itinerant services in homes or daycares. ESY services may also include providing some students with laptops and/or mobile hotspots during facility closure. If districts allow the use of buildings, it may be possible for small groups to meet, keeping social distancing requirements in mind.  IEP Committees should continue to make decisions on the frequency and duration of services based on individual student needs. Due to extended school closures, it may be necessary for some IEP Committees to reconvene and review ESY decisions made for students who were previously found not eligible for ESY services.  

Mississippi State Board Policy Rule 74.12 governs the ESY determination process and provision of services ESY (https://mdek12.org/sites/default/files/Page_Docs/Rule%2074.12.pdf). Important and helpful information is included in this document.                                                                                                       

ESY Application 2020 
The ESY Project Application found at https://mdek12.org/OSE/funding/special-education-extended-school-year should be completed and submitted as outlined in the application packet. Due to the flexibility needed to provide ESY services, deadlines have been adjusted as follows: Previous guidance indicated that Districts would have 30 days after schools open to hold individual student determination meetings.  Due to the fact that schools will not open this school year, the MDE OSE is removing this requirement.  

  • Determinations must be made prior to the provision of services and the submission of your district’s ESY application.  
  • It is essential that your ESY application is uploaded into SharePoint and that an email is sent to Roscoe Jones at rjones@mdek12.org once the ESY application is uploaded.    
  • ESY applications should be uploaded to each district’s SharePoint folder using the path below.     
  • ESY Applications should be completed based on projected services and will be due June 30, 2020 even if you are providing services prior to June 30, 2020 
  • Amendments will be accepted until August 1, 2020.   
  • Request for Reimbursement forms are due on or before September 30, 2020. 
May 27, 2020: Questions 38-47

38. Can MDE give guidance to districts on marking progress for the 4th 9 weeks?

Due to school closures, the MDE OSE understands that marking progress for the 4th 9 weeks may be difficult. Teachers should use the data collected through distance learning to mark progress. Data collected through distance learning may include a combination of information for example, information provided by parents, learning packets, or data from online learning platforms. In instances where there is not enough data to support marking progress, the teacher should document the reason for the lack of data. The IEP Committee is responsible for making decisions as to how goals that could not be progressed monitored should be addressed when school resumes.

39. Can districts have their ESY program in the month of July since July begins a new fiscal year?

ESY services must be provided outside of a district’s academic year. Districts may begin providing ESY services any time from the day after a district’s scheduled academic year concludes until the day before school begins in August. Special education services provided during a district’s regular academic year are not considered ESY services.

40. Are teachers required to have signatures on the Notice of Committee Meeting?

Signatures are not required on the Notice of Committee Meeting. The Notice of Committee Meeting should document all participants invited to the IEP meeting as well as who is sending the Notice.

41. How should signatures be obtained for the Individualized Education Plan (IEP and Prior Written Notice?

Signatures are not required on the IEP, however, if your district requires signatures, you must follow your district policies.

The IEP should document who attended the meeting. A signature is only required on the Prior Written Notice if the parent waives the 7-day period prior to the implementation of any changes made during the IEP meeting. If meetings are being held via technology or alternate means of communication, and a signature cannot be obtained, agreements and consent to waivers can be documented by the IEP Committee.

42. How should districts proceed with entry and exit BDI assessments?

Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed as long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. Additionally, if parents agree, districts may conduct in person assessments at their discretion. If districts are unable to administer entry and exit assessments due to health concerns, the district should document the reason the assessment could not be administered. THE MDE OSE has requested guidance from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and further guidance is forthcoming.

43. If a district is considering having a summer program for all students based on funds made available through the CARES Act, will special education receive additional funds for this purpose?

The CARES Act has a provision that will allow districts to use funds from the CARES Act for any allowable IDEA activity. How those funds will be used is a district decision. Additionally, IDEA Part B funds may be used to provide allowable special education services during the summer for enrichment activities. If summer programs are offered to general education students, they must also be offered for special education students.

44. If private facilities were unable to provide services for the first 5 days of school closure, is there anything in policy or procedures that would prevent them from making up those 5 days on Saturdays or tacking on an additional 5 days at the end of the school year?

At this time, there is nothing in policy or procedure that would prevent reimbursement for districts and facilities who make up those days. It is imperative that facilities work closely with their districts to develop and implement plans during these unprecedented times. In addition, the facilities must provide an updated calendar to the districts and the calendar must reflect the additional days that have been added to the original calendar submitted. Districts should ensure that facilities are only charging for services rendered.

45. What is the recommended procedure for completing and signing semi-annual forms?

Semi-annual forms should be completed and signed by the supervisor and employee. Digital signatures will be accepted.

46. How should districts handle “First Steps” referrals for students transitioning from Part C to B?

If an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation may be delayed until it is determined by your district that all safety and health concerns have been resolved. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed as long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. Secretary of Education DeVos has recommended to Congress that services continue to be provided by Part C until a child can be evaluated by Part B. However, this recommendation has not been approved by Congress, nor has a funding mechanism been put in place for these services to be provided. This guidance may change if Congress approves this recommendation, but there is no timeline for approval.

47. If there are unexpended funds remaining (FY19 Function code 2190 and Function code 1295 for FY20), what is the guidance for LEAs regarding the amount to be expended for parentally placed private school children with disabilities?

After month 24 of the grant eligibility:

  1. The LEA shall have documentation that timely and meaningful consultation has taken place throughout the year to ensure parentally placed non-public school children with disabilities can meaningfully participate; and,
     
  2. At that time, if the LEA is in compliance with Child Find, consultation, and other IDEA equitable service requirements, the LEA may use the unexpended funds to pay for other allowable Part B expenditures for the same LEA using the following procedures:

    1. Funds must be moved through an approved revision process;

    2. LEAs must upload documentation of consultation that was ongoing throughout the program (for FY20 the LEAs must be collecting this documentation beginning now through month 24 – June 30, 2021); and,

    3. LEAs must upload a signed letter from each non-public school representative showing that ongoing consultation took place and that the non-public schools are aware and in agreement that the unexpended proportionate share funds will be used by the LEA to pay for other allowable part B expenditure for the LEA.

 

Grant Award Year FY19 (FFY18)

July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

Grant Award Period of Availability

July 1, 2018 – September 30, 2020 (27 months)

Carryover Period of Availability

July 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020 (15 months)

Carryover Year

July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

Deadline for Obligation of Funds

September 30, 2020

Liquidation of Funds

December 2020

 

Grant Award Year FY20 (FFY19)

July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020

Grant Award Period of Availability

July 1, 2019 – September 30, 2021 (27 months

Carryover Period of Availability

July 1, 2019 – September 30, 2020 (15 months)

Carryover Year

July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021

Deadline for Obligation of Funds

September 30, 2021

Liquidation of Funds

December 2021

 

Services for Students with Disabilities During School Closures
Questions and Answers for Parents: March 17, 2020

1. Should my child with disabilities be receiving special education services during the school closures? Based on guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education, if the district is not providing educational services to students during the closure, then there is not a requirement to provide special education services to students with disabilities during the same time period.
 

2. If the LEA provides formalized educational services through online instruction to the general student population, would the LEA be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period? Yes. If a Local Educational Agency (LEA) continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the delivery of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
 

3. How will special education services be provided to my child during school closures? If the district is not providing educational services to students during the closure, then there is not a requirement to provide special education services to students with disabilities during the same time period.
 

4. What will happen if my child is not able to receive certain special education services during school closures? Any need for compensatory services related to school closure or inability to fully implement a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be addressed after school resumes and should be addressed on a case-by- case basis. This might include discussions of compensatory education and extended school year (ESY) services, made on a case-by-case basis. When your district resumes standard operations, the district should collect student data to determine any student progression or regression on annual IEP goals. This data can be used to inform IEP Committee decisions and assist in compensatory service decisions.
 

5. What should I do if my child’s IEP will expire during school closures? Districts are currently considering alternate ways to use virtual technology (e.g., Zoom, conference calls, Skype, etc.) to the extent possible to provide annual IEP meetings if staff and parents are available but not able to attend in person. IEP Committee members may contact you to schedule meetings while schools are closed. These meetings can be hosted virtually as long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. Each student decision will be handled on a case-by-case issue. 
 

6. What should I do if my child had an evaluation/eligibility meeting that was scheduled during the school closure? Districts are currently considering alternate ways to use virtual technology (e.g., Zoom, conference calls, Skype, etc.) to the extent possible to conduct meetings pertaining to evaluation if staff and parents are available but not able to attend in person. If an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents. IEP Committee members may contact you to schedule virtual meetings while schools are closed.
 

7. What will happen to my child’s services if school remains open, but my child is sick at home? Students who are sick and who need to stay home for more than 10 days may need to receive homebound instruction. The IEP committee must meet to determine how to provide services for your child. This may include schoolwork packets, virtual online instruction, or some other type of learning adapted to the student’s needs and location.

 

Student Enrollment and Residency

1. What is the protocol for enrolling or withdrawing students?  

Districts are still required to enroll and withdraw students based on current MDE and local board policies.  Parents seeking to enroll students should contact their local school district for specific details such as hours of operation and locations.

The district will need to enroll students if contacted, but the district will need to consider grading and credits awarded under district policy. For instance, if a student dropped out previously and wants to re-enroll to graduate now that an EOC test is not required, that may be a district concern. It is suggested that a Local Education (LEA) put enrollment procedures in place during this time. A LEA may consider providing an alternative method (phone) to temporarily enroll a student until further notice (the receipt of records once things are back to normal). A LEA does not have the authority to deny enrollment to a student unless there are federal provisions that would overrule our state law. As always, districts should consult with their local board attorney. 

 

2. Can a district still require annual residency verification in light of the recent exemption by the State Auditor?

In an effort to free local district staff from a burdensome process, Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education, recently contacted State Auditor Shad White to request an exemption to the requirement of proving residency for returning students in districts for this upcoming school year (for districts with such a policy). He has granted the request for this year and asked that documentation be maintained showing what was required of the parent.

For returning students to your district whose address has not changed, you may create a form for parents to sign stating that their address has not changed from the previous year as part of your registration process. This can be done as paper/pencil or digitally if you have online registration, but a copy should be placed in the child's cumulative record for documentation purposes.

New students to your district or returning students whose addresses have changed will still be required to prove residency as has been done in the past. This also should be placed in the cumulative record for documentation purposes. This exemption is only for returning students who remain in their current address.

State Board Policy Rule 68.1 outlines the minimum requirements relative to school district verification of student residency. Districts have the authority to require additional requirements including annual residency verification. 

Issues involving local school board policies and procedures governed by Miss. Code Ann. § 37-7-301.1, provides wide latitude to school districts to “adopt any orders, resolutions or ordinances with respect to school district affairs, property and finances which are not inconsistent with the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, the Mississippi Code of 1972, or any other statute or law of the State of Mississippi.”  Therefore, based on this home rule, the local school board has the authority to adopt additional requirements, including those pertaining to residency verification.

If a district wishes to continue the process of annual verification based on local school board policy, the MDE recommends the district consult with their local board attorney.

 

Student Technology Support

1.How can we help students access computers? 

Schools need to review their current device policies to decide if students will be able to utilize school-owned student devices at home in order to continue learning opportunities.  

To address school system/school concerns relative to tracking and managing school devices off-campus, the MDE is working with Absolute Software to create a low-cost offering that will provide hardware tracking, monitoring, and reporting as well as investigating and recovering stolen/missing devices. Additional details will be provided to the school system technology directors   

2. What resources are available if students do not have internet at home and/or need assistance with accessing the Internet? 

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has launched the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” which many broadband carriers have signed. For the next 60 days, its provisions will: 

  • not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; 

  • waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and 

  • open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.  

3. Will the current E-Rate application deadline of March 25, 2020 be extended? 

Yes. The FCC has extended the deadline for schools to submit Funding Year (FY) 2020 FCC Form 471 applications by an additional 35 days. E-Rate applicants will now have until Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. EDT to submit. This also means, any school system who may need to post a new Form 470 for additional service(s), can file a form 470, post an RFP for 28 days and file a Form 471 for FY2020 E-Rate funding. 

The FCC has also directed USAC to provide all applicants undergoing Program Integrity Assurance (PIA) reviews with an automatic, 14-day extension for all PIA requests. 

Waivers for additional deadlines and Requests (Form 486, Form 472, COMAD, invoicing, etc.) have been requested and are under review. 

Applicants are encouraged to also monitor USAC’s webpage (https://www.usac.org/ ) and news feed for relevant information in addition to Department communications. 

4. Are school systems required to provide internet access? 

If a school system enrolls a student in a distance education program, the school shall ensure that all students enrolled in a distance learning course are provided with the necessary course materials and technical support.

 

Textbooks and Library Books

1. What should districts do to facilitate the return of student-issued textbooks since schools will be closed for the rest of the year? 

Districts should schedule times when groups of students (no more than 10 at a time) can return textbooks to a designated location over an extended period. If the district is distributing breakfast and lunch, perhaps a textbook depository could be set up for students to turn in their textbooks during food distribution. 

2. How should schools disinfect textbooks? 

Quarantine textbooks in a room for 24-48 hours and then wipe down books with Absorene book cleaner. The Absorene does not kill germs, but it does not harm the textbooks. Wiping the textbooks down with Lysol wipes or spraying with Lysol would introduce moisture to the paper and cause mildew and mold to grow. Placing them in direct sunlight would cause the pages to dry out and become brittle, which would lead the pages to fall out of the spines. There is research that states COVID-19 stays active on cardboard or paper for at least 24 hours. Ensure that any staff handling the textbooks always wear gloves and masks and wash hands afterwards. 

3. How should schools disinfect library books?

Quarantine library books in a room for 24-48 hours and then wipe down books with Absorene book cleaner. The Absorene does not kill germs, but it does not harm the books. Wiping the books down with Lysol wipes or spraying with Lysol would introduce moisture to the paper and cause mildew and mold to grow. Placing them in direct sunlight would cause the pages to dry out and become brittle, which would lead the pages to fall out of the spines. There is research that states COVID-19 stays active on cardboard or paper for at least 24 hours. Ensure that any staff handling the books always wear gloves and masks and wash hands afterwards. 

4. What funds can be used to purchase ebooks or digital resources?

The purchase of library media supports (e.g., ebooks and digital resources) are allowable under Title I, Part and therefore allowable under the CARES Act. If an LEA identifies the need in the comprehensive needs assessment and includes it in their schoolwide plan, the funds can be spent as noted. For more information regarding ebooks and digital resources reference the Ebook Purchasing Guidance document found on the School Library site: https://mdek12.org/Library

5. What type of ebooks should be purchased for a school library?

According to a recent survey, more than 70% of school libraries rely on multiple models to develop their ebook collections. The Ebook Purchasing Guidance document will explain the different elements that need to be considered when purchasing ebooks to enable schools to optimize budgets, improve outcomes, and see a higher return on investment.

Various Other Topics

1.Will district staff retirement be affected? 

School district employees should contact PERS with questions regarding retirement eligibility. 

 

 


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