April 2, 2020
Your Daily ISD News & Updates
Welcome to the MAISA Daily InSiDe Update.
MAISA will be providing this resource of critical topics each day. Please reach out to sfranck@gomaisa.org if you have additional items to add.
April 2nd Executive Order
Reprinted from MASA Executive Director, Chris Wigent's "Executive Order - Next Steps" Memo, today, April 2, 2020

Gov. Whitmer today issued her Executive Order, which in short, ends face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.
 
MASA, MASB, MAISA, and MASSP issued a statement  following the announcement stating that while it was a difficult decision, it was the "necessary choice."
 
We understand this is going to be difficult for all involved — school staff, teachers, parents, students, and communities alike — but MASA [and MAISA] stand ready to support our districts in any way possible. While there is no substitute for in-person instruction for students, we are confident that in the face of these great challenges, Michigan's students and educators will rise to the occasion.
 
There have been many rumors, both in the media and in the field, about what this EO would/would not include. Now that it has been released and we know the facts, we will be working with many others to determine what this all means to you as district leaders. 
 
The Executive Order issued today not only ends face-to-face instruction for the rest of this school year, it lays out guidance and requirements going forward to ensure that learning will continue for all students. It maintains a lot of flexibility for local districts to determine how they will handle the various challenges they face, whether it be lack of internet availability, lack of devices that can access the internet at home, requirements of Individualized Education Plans, 504s, etc.
 
We urge you as administrators to think about what local district policies will need to be altered for this year, specifically for graduation. Please know that there will also be some legislative action required that will need to be taken to address some state requirements in the area. The governor has stated that seniors who were on track to graduate when school was suspended on March 13, 2020, should be allowed to graduate.
 
Top summaries of the Executive Order include:
  • Forgiveness of all snow days allowed under the law (6 total) plus an additional 13 days related to the executive order closing schools. 
  • An additional 5 days can be counted as instructional time if the district has been holding professional development sessions with their staff on how to instruct through distance learning.
  • The 75% daily attendance requirement will be waived beginning March 11 for the remainder of the year.
  • Districts will be required to create a continuity of learning plan on how they will deliver instruction and submit it for approval for learning to begin by April 28, 2020. An application template will be available this week. The methods are not defined, except that it can't be face-to-face.
  • The plan must include a subplan for high school seniors and graduation. There should be a process to certify that the students have completed the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum; however, districts can determine how that credit is awarded. The goal is to have final grades on a transcript for graduating seniors.
  • The district's plan should aim to support IEPs and 504 plans to the fullest extent possible considering social distancing and the Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives Executive Order.
  • The plan will be submitted to the ISD for approval by the ISD Superintendent.
  • Once approved by the ISD, the plan must be filed with the Michigan Department of Education, which will allow school aid payments to the district to continue as if it were a traditional school year.
  • Districts in a partnership agreement will have their goal attainment dates extended for this school year.
  • The SAT and PSAT will be offered in the fall for those students who missed out on taking it this spring.
  • Districts will be required to continue to offer meals to eligible students and make sure staff is receiving compensation.
  • Districts will be required to provide mental health services and continue to support ISD efforts to mobilize disaster relief childcare centers.
  • Students and families may not be penalized for an inability to participate in the continuity of learning plan.
  • The third-grade reading law will not be enforced for this school year.
  • Assessments will be suspended for this school year.
  • Many laws related to assessment, including A-F, evaluations, etc. will be suspended.
  • The EO includes a provision to ensure that MPSERS service credit will not be impacted. 
  • A provision allowing and encouraging districts to donate PPE, cleaning supplies, and other materials to local organizations who need them is included in the EO.
  • The EO allows districts to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year and/or begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without seeking approval from the state.
  • The EO makes it clear that district facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purpose of facilitating distance learning while also practicing social distancing (in compliance with the Stay Home/Stay Safe and CISA list).

Executive Order: Special Education
Many questions have been asked regarding the Governor's Executive Order and how it affects those in the special education community. The following highlights from the Executive Order speak to this issue:

VI. Special education
A. Districts shall strive in good faith and to the extent practicable, based upon existing resources, technology, training, and curriculum, as well as the circumstances presented by any state of emergency or state of disaster, to provide equal access to alternative modes of instruction to students with disabilities for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This includes the provision of auxiliary services under section 1296 of the School Code, MCL 380.1296.

B. While the COVID-19 state of emergency and/or state of disaster continues, districts shall comply with guidance from the United States Department of Education (“USDOE”), including its Office of Civil Rights and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and the Department concerning the delivery of alternative modes of instruction to students with disabilities in light of the impact of COVID-19.

C. Districts shall, to the extent practicable and necessary, make individualized determinations whether and to what extent compensatory services may be needed for pupils after the school closure period prompted by the COVID-19 state of emergency and/or state of disaster ends.

D. A district or a nonpublic school that has been allocated federal funds for the 2019-2020 school year for the purpose of providing special education services shall not be penalized or required to repay the funds by this state due to the inability to provide those services in person during the 2019-2020 school year after March 11, 2020.

E. Within five days of the effective date of this order, the Department and the Department of Civil Rights are strongly encouraged to submit requests for interpretation, guidance on implementation, flexibility, or waivers to USDOE that would permit districts and nonpublic schools to do one or more of the following during the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year:
  1. Deliver instruction to all pupils, including students with disabilities, without having to reconvene or amend individualized education plans (“IEPs”) or Section 504 plans.
  2. Deliver direct and consultative related services such as therapies, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathologist, social service worker, teacher consultant, and other special education services and supports, without having to reconvene or amend IEPs or Section 504 plans.
  3. Complete IEPs and Section 504 plans online, either by telephone conference or video conference, if the parents or guardians involved have access to the technology and agree to the alternative means of participation. If a parent or guardian elects not to participate in an otherwise due IEP online, a district should be permitted to extend the deadline for completion of the IEP for up to 30 school days after the school closure period prompted by the COVID-19 state of emergency and/or state of disaster ends.
  4. Complete annual or otherwise due IEPs online, either by telephone conference or video conference, with those IEPs being considered timely if they are completed by the end of the 2019-2020 school year.
  5. Consider whether a pupil should be provided compensatory education for pupils after the school closure period prompted by the COVID-19 state of emergency and/or state of disaster ends, based on applicable law and guidance, no later than the first annual IEP meeting of the 2020-2021 school year.
  6. Consider compensatory education for pupils who are more likely to qualify for compensatory education through IEP amendments, with the authority to complete those IEP amendments online, either by telephone conference, virtual meetings, or other existing technology.
  7. Other requests the Department deems necessary to facilitate the delivery of alternative modes of instruction with equal access.

F. This order does not require that an IEP be amended.

We will continue to provide information regarding this topic as it becomes available .
Template for COVID19 Notification Process
Washtenaw ISD has developed this  draft letter with its local health department to let staff know of the process should someone on their team be diagnosed with COVID-19. 
 
It seems that health departments are beginning to get calls from employees in the community who are worried their employers are "hiding" information about known contact with people with COVID-19. This may be something you could send out to staff acknowledging their fear and that they will likely know someone with COVID soon. It is a great opportunity to pair transparency with care for your staff.
 
Thanks to WISD for sharing this with the hope that others may find it helpful in comforting their staff and communicating what we  do know during this time of mostly unknowns.