NCASA COVID-19 Policy & Advocacy Update: 4/2/20
Elizabeth Yelverton | NCASA Legal Affairs & Policy Manager
With schools statewide remaining closed for student instruction for a third week, state policymakers have continued to focus on urgent school district concerns, such as personnel leave and supplemental funding, while also beginning to address the numerous other areas that are expected to be impacted by the coronavirus. The following is an overview of actions taken this week by various education stakeholders:
State Board Of Education (SBE)/NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI)
During a conference call on Friday, March 27, members of the State Board approved a new policy—Section 9.4.2 Contagious Disease Policy to Address 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic, which provides emergency leave to “employees in local education agencies, the Innovative School District, and regional schools for the period covering April 1 – April 30, 2020.” State Board members also approved new guidance and policy additions regarding remote learning and grading for grades K-5, grades 6-11, and graduating seniors. Lastly, State Board members approved a distribution formula for the $50 million in new supplemental funding provided to public schools for additional COVID-19 expenditures. Board members ultimately approved a formula in which 50% of funds are distributed based on the number of poverty children per the Title I Low Income poverty data, and remaining funds are distributed based on allotted ADM. The full NCASA summary of Friday’s conference call meeting can be accessed here.
The State Board met again on Thursday, April 2, for its monthly meeting, during which time NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) staff gave an update from the COVID-19 School Accountability Workgroup. The report shared during Thursday’s meeting outlines state statutes and SBE policies that may need review given the approval of North Carolina’s waiver request from certain federal assessment and accountability requirements. Members can access the full NCASA summary of Thursday’s State Board of Education meeting by clicking here.
NC General Assembly (NCGA)
The House Select Committee on COVID-19: Education Working Group met today at 2:00 PM to hear an overview of actions taken by higher education entities, including NC Independent Colleges and Universities, The UNC System, and NC Community Colleges, in response to the coronavirus. The full agenda can be accessed here. Additionally, the Education Working Group is expected to hear from Onslow and Surry County Public Schools on Monday regarding their online teaching efforts. As of March 2, legislators are still scheduled to reconvene for legislative session on Tuesday, April 28, although many suspect this session will be postponed or conducted virtually.
Governor Roy Cooper
Last Friday, Governor Cooper issued an executive order directing all NC citizens to stay at home for thirty days, effective Monday, March 30, excepting certain essential businesses and operations. On Monday, Cooper signed Executive Order 122, which allows donation or transfer of state surplus property to help state agencies, local governments, and schools in response to coronavirus efforts. The following day, Cooper also signed Executive Order 124, which prohibits utility providers from cutting off services such as electricity, gas, and water to customers who are unable to pay for the next 60 days. The order also encourages telecommunications companies not to shut off phone or internet services for lack of payment. These services continue to be essential for families and students who must now work and learn from home.
Last Friday, members of Congress gave final approval to the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act’’ (CARES Act), providing $13.5 billion earmarked for K-12 schools, as well as significant aid for individuals and small businesses. NCASA and other groups are continuing to analyze this extensive relief package in order to provide guidance on the opportunities and resources provided to public schools by the Act.
Members can access more information about the topics mentioned above, as well as NCASA’s full archive of coronavirus resources, updates, and guidance through NCASA’s COVID-19 Resource Page.