February 2021 | Number 462
Education secretary nominee Miguel Cardona testifies during his confirmation hearing on February 3, 2021.
Deadline for Governors to Apply for Private School COVID Relief Program Extended
Last month's edition of Outlook described the new COVID relief program for private schools, called EANS (Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools). Each state's governor must apply to the US Department of Education in order for private schools to participate in EANS. Last week, the Department announced that governors would have an additional two weeks to apply. The new deadline for governors is February 22.

Check with your State CAPE to see if your governor has applied and to see how you can help if your governor has not.
EANS Guidance Released
The Department of Education has released FAQs answering important questions about how the EANS program will work. Here are some key excerpts:

B-8. Is there a deadline by which an SEA must obligate EANS funds for services or assistance for non-public schools?

Yes. An SEA must obligate EANS funds to provide services or assistance to non-public schools in an expedited and timely manner, to the extent practicable. However, an SEA must obligate EANS funds not later than six months after receiving those funds.

B-9. What does it mean for an SEA to “obligate” EANS funds?

The regulations at 34 C.F.R. § 76.707 govern when an obligation of Federal funds by an SEA occurs. Specifically, for services or assistance provided through a contract, the obligation is made on the date that the SEA makes a binding written commitment to obtain the services or work. For rental of real or personal property, the obligation is made when the property is used.

C-3. May an SEA permit an organization that has governing authority over a group of nonpublic schools to submit an application on behalf of its member schools?

Yes. An SEA may permit an organization that has governing authority over a group of non-public schools to submit an application on behalf of its member schools. If such an organization applies on behalf of its member schools, it must clearly indicate for which schools it applies and provide supporting data and other information requested in the application for any and all schools for which it applies. 

C-12. If a non-public school’s application for services or assistance under the EANS program is denied, may the non-public school apply for a loan under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)?

The PPP is administered by the Small Business Administration and is governed by its requirements and timelines. However, there is nothing in the CRRSA Act that would preclude a non-public school whose application for services or assistance under the EANS program is denied from then applying for a PPP loan on or after December 27, 2020.

C-13. If a non-public school applies for a PPP loan and is denied a loan, may it apply for services or assistance under the EANS program?

Yes. A non-public school that applies for a PPP on or after December 27, 2020, but does not receive funds under the PPP, may apply for services or assistance under the EANS program, as long as the nonpublic school meets the requirements and deadlines of the SEA.

D-7. Does receiving services or assistance under the EANS program make a non-public school a “recipient of Federal financial assistance”?

No. Under the EANS program, a Governor is the recipient of Federal financial assistance and is responsible for ensuring that the SEA administers the EANS program in accordance with applicable laws, including civil rights laws. Section 312(d)(7)(A) of the CRRSA Act requires a public agency (e.g., the SEA) to control and administer EANS funds and keep title to materials, equipment, and property purchased with the funds. A non-public school whose students and teachers receive services or assistance under the EANS program, even if such services or assistance are delivered through reimbursement, is not a “recipient of Federal financial assistance.”

To read the FAQs in their entirety (which are issued for the sake of clarity and do not have the force of law), click here.
CDC Research Sees Little COVID Transmission in Schools
As reported in the Washington Post:

“'The preponderance of available evidence from the fall school semester has been reassuring,' wrote three CDC researchers in a viewpoint piece published online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. 'There has been little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission.'"

A different CDC study "looked at 17 rural K-12 schools in Wisconsin and found just seven out of 191 coronavirus cases resulted from in-school transmission."

Meanwhile, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky told reporters during a White House news briefing on COVID-19 that "there is increasing data to suggest that schools can safely reopen and that safe reopening does not suggest that teachers need to be vaccinated." However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki later said that Walensky was speaking in her “personal capacity.”

The CDC is expected to unveil new guidance on school reopening in the coming days.
Catholic Schools Hit by Enrollment Losses
According to a story in the AP, "Enrollment in Roman Catholic schools in the United States dropped 6.4% from the previous academic year amid the pandemic and economic stresses — the largest single-year decline in at least five decades."

Additionally, "Between the 2019-2020 school year and the current year, nationwide enrollment dropped by 110,000 to about 1.6 million students."

The closures "disproportionately impacted urban communities where significant numbers of Black children, including many from non-Catholic families, attended Catholic schools. Indeed, some of the largest enrollment losses were in big-city dioceses, including 12.3% in Los Angeles, 11.1% in New York and 8.2% in Chicago."

The Cato Institute continues to track COVID-related private school closures, that site can be viewed here.
Senate Committee Holds Confirmation Hearing for Miguel Cardona
On February 3, President Biden's nominee for secretary of education faced senators from the Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee in what turned out to be a mostly uneventful hearing. Mr. Cardona generally declined to give specifics in his answers to questions on controversial issues such as school choice, COVID relief, and vaccination requirements before public school reopening.

However, the hearing did take a more contentious turn over the issue of sports participation and transgender students.
NYC Continues to Deny Court Ordered COVID Testing for Private Schools
According to a January 18, 2021 press release from the Office of the Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York:

"Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza continue to deny students in non-public schools the same Covid testing services that are being provided to public school students, despite being required to do so by New York State Education Law and two consecutive court decisions."

The release quotes Michael Deegan, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York, as saying, "the fight continues." While the city has appealed, “We will continue our efforts to ensure that all students, regardless of which school they attend, are treated fairly and equitably by the City of New York during this health crisis, as the law and basic decency demand.”
Congress Begins Debating New Round of COVID Relief
In response to President Biden's call for another round of COVID relief, the House Education & Labor Committee has approved legislation that would provide $129 billion for K-12 emergency assistance. Roughly $26 billion of those funds would be allocated for addressing "learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning, extended day, or extended school year programs." That $26 billion in learning loss funds would be subject to an equitable services requirement for private schools.

The Senate has not yet put forward its version of K-12 relief.
Employee Retention Credit Expanded
From BDO:

"The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, signed into law on December 27, 2020, contains significant enhancements and improvements to the Employee Retention Credit (ERC). The ERC, which was created by the CARES Act on March 27, 2020, is designed to encourage employers (including tax-exempt entities) to keep employees on their payroll and continue providing health benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. The ERC is a refundable payroll tax credit for wages paid and health coverage provided by an employer whose operations were either fully or partially suspended due to a COVID-19-related governmental order or that experienced a significant reduction in gross receipts."

Click here for information on the changes to the program.
SAT Ends Optional Essay, Subject Tests
The College Board has announced that it will discontinue the optional essay-writing section of the SAT as well as SAT subject tests. For more information, click here.
Wall Street Journal Columnist: Catholic Schools Are Beating COVID
From Bill McGurn:

"Amid all the pain and disruption, a year of coronavirus has given Americans a new respect for those working to keep daily life as normal as possible, from the frontline nurse to the Amazon delivery man. Near the top of this honor roll is an especially unsung hero: the Catholic-school teacher.

"In ordinary times their teachers do an extraordinary job, especially for their poor and minority students. As Justice Sonia Sotomayor once said, 'Catholic schools have been a pipeline to opportunity' for people like her—poor, Latina, raised by a single mom. Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Catholic-school administrators have moved heaven and earth to keep their classrooms open to new generations of Sotomayors.

"During the pandemic, America’s Catholic schools are providing a similar lifeline to hundreds of thousands of children who would otherwise be out of class and losing ground."

Read it all here. Kathy Mears, CAPE board member and Interim President/CEO of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), is cited.
Survey Says!
School Choice

According to the American Federation for Children's seventh annual national survey, "the concept of school choice is favored by a 65%-to-25% margin. African Americans and Latinos remain extremely supportive, with 74% of African Americans and 71% of Latinos backing the concept of school choice. In addition, roughly two-thirds (65%) of K-12 parents support school choice. School choice continues to enjoy bipartisan support. Republicans continue to be the most enthusiastic supporters (82%), but 69% of Independents and 55% of Democrats favor school choice."

Parent Satisfaction

Meanwhile, an Education Next study surveying the attitude of parents during the pandemic found that "Regardless of sector, parents are relatively content with their child’s educational experience. Parents of 71% of district students, 73% of charter students, and 83% of private-school students are either somewhat satisfied or very much so. Still, parents of private-school students are most likely to be 'very satisfied': 55% give this response, as compared to just 25% of district parents and 35% of charter parents."

Learning Loss

It goes on to say that "Parents of students at private schools are also less likely to report learning losses due to the pandemic. Parents of 64% of district students and 58% of charter students, but just 43% of private-school students, say their child is learning 'somewhat less' or 'a lot less.' A 'lot less' learning is reported by about a fifth of the parents of both district and charter students but only 6% of those in private schools."

Remote vs. In-Person

Also from Education Next:

"Well over half—57%—of students enrolled in district schools receive all their instruction remotely. Another 19% split their time between in-person and remote learning in the hybrid model (see Figure 8). Although parents of nearly three-fourths of the district students said they can choose among options, only 37% have the option for their children to attend in person full time and only 24% receive all of their instruction in person.

"Students enrolled in charter schools are even less likely to enter a school building. The parents of 66% report that they are fully remote, 16% hybrid, and 18% in person full time. In the charter sector, parents of 61% of students say they have a choice among more than one option, but the parents of only 35% say they can send their children off to school every day.

"The percentages are nearly reversed for children attending private schools. Sixty percent receive instruction in person, 22% have hybrid instruction, and just 18% receive their instruction at a distance. The parents of nearly 70% of private-school students say they have a choice, but in this case the choice includes full-time in-person instruction for 67%. All but 10% of private-school students with that opportunity are taking advantage of it."

(Graphics by Education Next)
Private Education: Good for Students, Good for Families, Good for America
CAPE member organizations:

Agudath Israel of America

Association of Christian Schools

Association of Christian
Teachers and Schools

Association of Waldorf
Schools of N.A.

Christian Schools International

Council of Islamic Schools
in North America

Council on Educational Standards
and Accountability
Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America

Friends Council on Education

Islamic Schools League of America

Jesuit Schools Network

Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

National Association of
Episcopal Schools

National Association of
Independent Schools

National Catholic
Educational Association
National Christian School

Office for Lasallian Education
Christian Brothers Conference

Oral Roberts University
Educational Fellowship

Seventh-day Adventist
Board of Education

United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops

Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran
Synod Schools
Affiliated State Organizations a coalition of national associations serving private schools K-12

Executive Director:
Michael Schuttloffel

Outlook is published monthly (September to June) by CAPE.
ISSN 0271-145

1300 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Tel: 844-883-CAPE

Michael Schuttloffel
Executive Director
Phone: 844-883-CAPE