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CARES Act Update, Special Education Guidance, and DPI Waivers

Friday, May 29, 2020


Dear District Administrator,

This email contains information on the CARES Act, special education guidance, and DPI waivers.

CARES Act Grant Updates
The funding allocations appropriated for local educational agencies (LEAs) in the CARES Act, known as the Elementary Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grant, are now available at Please review your allocation and contact the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) with any questions at LEAs will need to complete several steps required under the law, as outlined in the ESSER Funds – Start Guide, before accessing the ESSER funds. You can complete many of these steps before the ESSER Grant Application is open in WISEgrants in July. DPI will continue to update the ESSER grants webpage regarding the status of the ESSER grant application as more information becomes available.

Special Education Guidance
The DPI’s Special Education Team developed a bulletin on determining additional services for students with IEPs impacted by the Covid-19 school closures. This bulletin addresses questions, such as what factors and information should be considered, what processes and time frame should be followed, and how services should be documented.

DPI Waivers
DPI has issued a number of waivers to school districts using an expedited process for hours of instruction, educator effectiveness, and the civics exam. These waivers are for one year only, the 2019-20 school year. School districts will have until the end of this school year to request a waiver for the 2019-20 school year. As these waivers are submitted through an expedited process, they are approved upon submission with a confirmation message containing this approval language. As that was missed by some, DPI will be sending an email to all districts who submitted waivers to date notifying you that your request was approved upon the date of submission.

If there are other topics for which you feel you need a waiver, please contact Tamara Mouw, Director, Teaching and Learning Team at Under state law, the DPI has the authority to waive requirements on school districts under Wis. Stats. 118.38 for provisions in state statute in chapters 115-121 and related administrative rules, with certain exceptions.

Please visit the DPI’s COVID-19 web page for the most current information from the department.


Mike Thompson, PhD
Deputy State Superintendent