Safely Reopening America's Schools
New Reskilling Campaign
Spotlight: School Choice
Title IX Regulations
Odds and Ends
Quote to Note
Safely Reopening America's Schools
Yesterday (July 23), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new science-based resources and tools for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians, and caregivers when schools open this fall. With states, cities, and communities around the country experiencing different levels of COVID-19 transmission, jurisdictions should make sure appropriate public health strategies are in place to slow the spread of the virus as the first step in creating a safer school environment. Then, in collaboration with state and local health departments, school administrators may employ strategies that best match local conditions and practical and feasible actions in their schools to help protect the health and safety of everyone — including students, teachers, and staff (press release).
"It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall," explained CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield. "The resources released today will help parents, teachers, and administrators make practical, safety-focused decisions as this school year begins. I know this has been a difficult time for our nation's families. School closures have disrupted normal ways of life for children and parents, and they have had negative health consequences on our youth. CDC is prepared to work with K-12 schools to safely reopen while protecting the most vulnerable."
CDC's resources and tools support how to open schools safely by promoting behaviors that prevent spread, altering the school and school day structure, and keeping the school environment healthy through cleaning, proper ventilation, and other practices. They also describe what to do to guard against someone who might be sick from infecting others and what to do if this occurs. Finally, they provide students, school administrators, parents, guardians, and caregivers with the information they need to guide decision-making and adapt to local conditions.
Deputy Secretary of Education Mitchell Zais will join Dr. Redfield for a media telebriefing to discuss the new resources later today (July 24).
Meanwhile, over the past few weeks, President Trump, Vice President Pence, Secretary DeVos, and other senior Administration officials reiterated the importance of safely reopening America's schools this fall.
On July 14, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the Vice President and Secretary participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor John Bel Edwards at Tiger Stadium on the campus of Louisiana State University (Vice President's remarks).
On July 15, the Secretary was the keynote speaker for the virtual Georgia Legislative Policy Forum (video).
And, on July 21, in Columbia, South Carolina, the Vice President, Second Lady Karen Pence, and the Secretary participated in a roundtable discussion with Governor Henry McMaster at the Alumni Center on the campus of the University of South Carolina (Vice President's remarks and Secretary's tweets 1 and 2).
Also, Deputy Secretary Zais spoke on this week's White House briefing call for state and local officials. "We recognize that school may look different this fall," he stated. "That's fine. This is an opportunity to show our children that — with some ingenuity and creative thinking — we can overcome any challenge. Our schools will return stronger and more student-focused than before."
Additionally, the Deputy Secretary kicked-off a webinar hosted by the Department's Center for Faith and Opportunities Initiative: "Talking to Elementary School Age Children about a Return to School."
The White House, the Department, and other federal agencies continue to release guidance to support schools, educators, and families regarding COVID-19. Many of the latest documents are listed below. Please visit the Department's COVID-19 information and resources web page for the most current information, and any questions for the Department may be directed to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
- Coronavirus.gov, CDC.gov/Coronavirus, and USA.gov/Coronavirus
- Office for Civil Rights (OCR) webinar covering various civil rights issues that affect K-12 and postsecondary education, in light of the COVID-19 national emergency
- Additional regulatory flexibilities for institutions of higher education — campus and fire safety reports, equity in athletics disclosures, and fiscal operations reports and applications to participate
- Reminder of alternative acceptable documentation to complete for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) verification of non-filing and Form W-2, as well as notice that the Department will make adjustments to its risk-based model and will not negatively view increased use of professional judgment or use it as a selection criteria for a program compliance review for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 award years
- Update on Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act quarterly reporting requirements
Moreover, in a Federal Register notice, the Department corrected information regarding eligible entities for the Reimagine Workforce Preparation (RWP) Grants Program, indicating that the applicant must be either a State Workforce Board that is a state agency or an entity with the authority to apply for, receive, and administer funds or a state agency or entity that is appropriately designated by the State Workforce Board.
New Reskilling Campaign
The Ad Council recently unveiled Find Something New, a national campaign created in collaboration with Apple, IBM, and the White House, with support from more than 200 public, private, and non-profit members of the Business Roundtable and the President's American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. With nearly 18 million Americans out of work amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the campaign aims to help people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences develop their skills for the rapidly changing job market. All individuals are encouraged to "find something new" at FindSomethingNew.org, which offers resources to explore a wide range of education and training options.
The campaign will appear nationwide in donated time and space across all platforms, including television, digital, and print. The ads, featuring stories from real individuals who found fulfilling careers after embracing new ways of learning, direct audiences to the web site.
The web site has an interactive tool that recommends education pathways for each user, information about rising careers to consider, and a directory of resources for life services like childcare, food assistance, and internet access. Pathways featured include online and virtual learning, professional certification programs, associate's degrees, and vocational, technical, and trades education.
Spotlight: School Choice
Last week, Secretary DeVos announced a $15 million grant competition to promote tribally directed education choice for Native American students. Accessing Choices in Education (ACE) grants will allow tribes — or other education entities partnering with tribes — to set up a variety of education options and services from which parents or students can choose.
"This pandemic has made very clear that education needs to be more adaptable and student-centered," the Secretary emphasized. "Tragically, too many Native American students lack access to a high-quality education option that meets their unique needs. The ACE grant program helps to accomplish this for Native American families in two ways. First, it respects tribal sovereignty by empowering tribes to select the range of resources to offer students, including…tutoring, educational and technology supplies, and Native language, history, and culture courses. In turn, parents and students are then empowered to select the resources that are the right fit for them."
ACE grants cover three years, with an additional two years of support available if the project is achieving objectives. Grantees may use up to the first year of the grant for planning needs, such as hiring personnel, securing service providers for options provided to students, and developing a method to properly collect parent feedback. (Note: Two pre-application technical assistance webinars were scheduled; one was held on July 23, and the other will be held July 30 from 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern Time.)
This week, Secretary DeVos announced that the Department will award at least $85 million over the next five years for disadvantaged students from families with lower incomes in Washington, D.C., to attend private schools of their choice, under the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program.
The Secretary also traveled to Columbus, Ohio, to participate in a school choice roundtable with students, parents, and educators.
Title IX Regulations
On July 21, OCR released a video webinar highlighting due process protections contained in the Department's new Title IX regulations.
Back on July 7, OCR released a companion webinar: "New Title IX Protections Against Sexual Assault."
For a list of tools that OCR has issued to assist recipients with Title IX compliance, visit OCR's blog entry, while questions and requests for technical assistance may be directed to T9questions@ed.gov.
Odds and Ends
- Secretary DeVos read "Llama Llama Loves to Read" by Anna Dewdney with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson as part of his agency's summer reading series.
- The Department is delaying the latest round of the Civil Rights Data Collection to the following school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic (see supporting statement Parts A and B).
- Review the deadline dates for the receipt of documents and other information from applicants and institutions participating in certain Federal Student Aid (FSA) programs.
- The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) posted a series of on-demand webinars for those interested in Fiscal Year 2020 funding opportunities and learning more about IES's work.
- "Indicators of School Crime and Safety 2019," a joint undertaking of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), presents data on crime at school from the perspectives of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from an array of sources. The report covers key topics, such as victimization, bullying, fighting, weapons, presence of security staff, availability and student use of drugs and alcohol, student perceptions of personal safety at school, and criminal incidents at postsecondary institutions. Overall, crime in schools has declined over the past two decades.
Quote to Note
"Congressman John Lewis was a great man whose courage and decades of public service changed America forever, and he will be deeply missed. [He] will be remembered as a giant of the civil rights movement whose selflessness and conviction rendered our nation into a more perfect union, and his example will inspire generations of Americans. While he will be rightly remembered as an icon of the civil rights movement, for me he was also a colleague and a friend. Even when we differed, John was always unfailingly kind, and my family and I will never forget the privilege of crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge at his side on the 45th anniversary of Bloody Sunday [in 2010]. Karen and I send our prayers and deepest sympathies to his family and friends and all who mourn the passing of this good and great man. May God bless the memory of John Lewis, and may his example ever inspire."
Vice President Mike Pence (7/18/20), in a statement on the passing of Congressman John Lewis
On August 4, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. ET, the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is hosting the final installment in a series of webinars focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from OSEP-funded grantees to support the educational, developmental, and social-emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning. (Note: Recordings of the previous webinars are available online.)
A Federal Register notice sets forth the schedule and planned agendas for a series of National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) meetings in July and August.
This year's National Tribal Broadband Summit will be conducted virtually September 21-25.
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