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4/8/20 COVID-19 Update

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dear District Administrator,

This email provides updates and resources related to mental health and wellness, youth apprenticeships, summer school, and the CARES Act.

Mental Health and Wellness
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) is providing mental health resources for you as you look to serve students, parents, caregivers, and educators during this public health emergency. Taking into consideration the need to be physically distant, while maintaining social and emotional connections, the DPI organized the resources by the four topic areas below:

  • General Mental Health and Wellness
  • Child and Adolescent Mental Health and Wellness
  • Parent, Caregiver, and Educator Mental Health and Wellness
  • Positive Parenting and Safe Home Environments

Youth Apprenticeships
Please see the communication from the Department of Workforce Development that was sent to Youth Apprenticeship (YA) coordinators. The communication provides notice of revised minimum completion requirements and frequently asked questions guidance for the school year. Similar requirements will apply to the state-certified Skill Standards Cooperative Education programming, including employability skills and youth leadership. Key components of the revised requirements are:

  • Students may continue related classroom instruction virtually.
  • The school-supervised, work-based learning (WBL) employer training agreement (ETA) is temporarily suspended.
  • As of March 18, 2020, a student is considered successful if he or she:
    • was registered for the 2019-2020 school year,
    • met a minimum of 360 hours for DPI Skill Standards Co-Op, or 68 hours for Employability Skills or Youth Leadership, and
    • completed one full semester plus nine weeks of the second semester of required program related instruction.

Students who did not achieve these minimums have the choice to continue to accrue hours over the summer up until September 30, 2020, or be registered as incomplete in the program.

Questions have also been raised specific to the Cooperative Education Skills Standard Certificate and the Assistant Child Care Teacher Program, Infant Toddler Skills Certificate, and related licensure. Please contact at 608-266-2022 or at 608-267-9088 regarding those inquiries.

Summer School
The DPI does not know when school closures will end, but absent a vaccine, the COVID-19 virus will still be present. This poses unique challenges as you plan for summer school and the possibility of an online environment. The DPI wants to ensure you have as much flexibility as possible in your planning and is actively exploring what additional flexibility can be provided around virtual education through administrative rule changes. DPI must follow the state administrative rule processes in this regard, and will get more information to you in the next few weeks.

Education Stabilization Funds

As you are aware, the CARES Act provides funding for a number of programs to be administered by the US Department of Education (USDE), most notably to the Education Stabilization Fund, which distributes funding to states, local educational agencies (LEAs), and institutions of higher education (IHEs). As the DPI noted in an earlier email, this act would provide additional funds to LEAs. DPI’s preliminary, rough estimates show, districts may receive supplemental funds totaling 75 to 80 percent of their 2019-20 Title I allocation.

The timing for receipt of these funds depends on how quickly USDE can set up the necessary structures to deliver funding. The USDE has 30 days (until the end of April) to establish an application for state education agencies (SEAs) to apply for the funds. The DPI does not yet know what will be required on that application, but the department will apply for funds and work to get those out to you as quickly as possible. The DPI’s ability to get funds to you will be dependent on federal timelines and requirements that have not yet been announced.

There are requirements on the Education Stabilization Funds of which you should be aware.

  • Title I equitable participation requirements will apply to K-12 funding. Equitable share calculations will be the same as how Title I equitable share is calculated. The DPI is awaiting guidance as to how this will apply to CARES Act funds.
  • Recipients of education stabilization dollars shall, to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus. The DPI does not have guidance from USDE as to what the greatest extent practicable means as that is not defined in the bill. The department will let you know if any guidance is issued. Absent guidance, it is up to LEAs to determine, based on their own fiscal situation, what it means to pay employees and contractors to the greatest extent practicable.
  • The use of the Education Stabilization Funds is not restricted to Title I purposes. Funds can be used to implement activities related to:
    • ESEA, IDEA, Carl Perkins, and McKinney-Vento.
    • Coordination of preparedness and response efforts with other agencies related to the coronavirus.
    • Providing principals with resources to meet the needs of schools.
    • Address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
    • Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
    • Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
    • Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
    • Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under IDEA, and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all federal, state, and local requirements.
    • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
    • Providing mental health services and supports.
    • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
    • Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in the LEA.

Emergency Education Relief Fund
Governors will also receive $3 billion in funding through an emergency education relief fund created under the Act. Wisconsin’s share is estimated to be around $46.7 million. These funds may be used by Governor Evers for the following purposes:

  • Provide emergency support through grants to LEAs that the SEA has deemed most significantly impacted to support the ability to continue to provide educational services and support on-going functionality of the LEA.
  • Provide emergency support through grants to IHEs.
  • Provide support to any other IHE, LEA, or education-related entity within the state that the governor deems essential for carrying out emergency educational services to students for provision of services under ESEA, IDEA, Perkins, McKinney-Vento, Higher Education Act, child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and the protection of education-related jobs.

Equitable participation requirements will apply to any funds received by an LEA under this provision.

There are a number of flexibility provisions in the law. The CARES Act includes a new U.S. Secretary of Education waiver authority under ESEA (National Emergency Educational Waivers). USDE has already used this authority and DPI applied for and received approval to waive federal assessment, accountability, identification, and report card requirements. A public comment period is still required and is open until April 13.

On Saturday, the USDE released an expedited waiver process for fiscal flexibility as allowed under the CARES Act. The DPI applied for and received approval to begin implementing this waiver. The following are the provisions of the waiver:

  • Carryover limitation in section 1127(b) of ESEA for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2019 Title I, Part A funds (i.e., the Title I,Part A funds that will become carryover funds on October 1, 2020) and the requirement that limits an SEA’s ability to grant to its LEAs a waiver of the 15 percent Title I, Part A carryover limitation in section 1127(a) more than once every three years.
  • Extending the period of availability of FY 2018 funds for programs in which the SEA participates under its approved consolidated State plan until September 30, 2021. The programs are:
    • Title I, Part A of the ESEA, including the portions of the SEA’s Title I, Part A award used to carry out section1003 school improvement, section 1003A direct student services, if applicable, and Title I, Part D, Subpart 2
    • Title I, Part B of the ESEA (State Assessment Formula Grants)
    • Title I, Part C of the ESEA (Education of Migratory Children)
    • Title I, Part D, Subpart 1 of the ESEA (Prevention and Intervention Programs for Children and Youth Who Are Neglected, Delinquent, or At Risk)
    • Title II, Part A of the ESEA (Supporting Effective Instruction)
    • Title III, Part A of the ESEA (English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement)
    • Title IV, Part A of the ESEA (Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants)
    • Title IV, Part B of the ESEA (21st Century Community Learning Centers)
    • Title V, Part B, Subpart 2 of the ESEA (Rural and Low-Income School Program)
    • McKinney-Vento Education for Homeless Children and Youth Program
  • Title IV, Part A requirements in the ESEA for LEAs that received $30,000 or more in Title IV, Part A funds:
    • Needs assessment requirements in section 4106(d) for the 2019-2020 school year.
    • Content area spending requirements in section 4106(e)(2)(C), (D), and (E): the requirements to use a minimum percentage of Title IV, Part A funds for activities under sections 4107, 4108 and 4109 for FY 2019 funds and any available FY 2018carryover funds.
    • Spending limitation in section 4109(b): the 15 percent limit on the use of funds undersection 4109 to purchase technology infrastructure for FY 2019 funds and any available FY 2018 carryover funds.
  • The definition of professional development in section 8101(42) of the ESEA for the2019-2020 school year.

The DPI will be developing information on what these waivers mean for you and how to access the additional flexibility provided. A comment period, as required under the waiver, will also be available within the next few days at

The DPI will continue to aggressively pursue waivers under this law to ensure you have the flexibility you need as you work through this public health emergency.

The most recent information on COVID-19 is always available on the department’s COVID-19 web page. If you have questions, please email the department on our COVID-19 email address, so the DPI can ensure you receive a response from the appropriate staff member.


Mike Thompson, PhD
Deputy State Superintendent