Dear District Administrator,
This email provides updates on new school meal flexibilities, new educational programming available through Public Broadcasting System (PBS) Wisconsin, and further information on waivers.
School Meal Flexibility
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued COVID–19: Child Nutrition Response #4, Nationwide Waiver to Allow Meal Pattern Flexibility in the Child Nutrition Programs in light of the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 public health emergency. This waiver allows the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to grant meal pattern flexibility waivers to School Food Authorities (SFAs) experiencing disruptions to the availability of food products resulting from the impacts of COVID-19. A Meal Pattern Flexibility Waiver should be completed if your SFA is currently experiencing a difficulty procuring and serving one or more components per meal pattern requirements.
DPI also published information on staying safe for food service workers. This information covers staff health, illness reporting, food safety, and social distancing during meal preparation and service, among other resources.
Educational Programming Announcement
PBS Wisconsin, Milwaukee PBS, and DPI have partnered to support at-home learning for students and families by broadcasting a new weekday television schedule of programming with digital resources that connect to Wisconsin’s state academic standards.
Beginning Monday, March 30, PBS Wisconsin will dedicate the 5 a.m.-5 p.m. daytime weekday schedule on The Wisconsin Channel, or PBS Wisconsin-2, and Milwaukee PBS will dedicate the 7 a.m.-5 p.m. daytime weekday schedule on WMVT 36.1 to educational programming including specific blocks of time for pre-K through 12th grade levels and covers subjects, including English language arts, social studies, science, and math.
The special broadcast schedule will also be available to stream online at pbswisconsin.org/familyresources along with corresponding free digital content for at-home learning and support for teachers. Also, Milwaukee PBS is hosting free digital resources for at-home learning at milwaukeepbs.org/onlineresources/.
Waivers from DPI
Under state law, the DPI has the authority to waive requirements on school districts under Wis. Stats. 118.38 for provisions in state statute and related administrative rule in chapters 115-121, with certain exceptions. As you know, the DPI implemented a streamlined process during this public health emergency to request waivers for hours of instruction, educator effectiveness, and the civics exam requirements. To request a waiver from these provisions you will need to hold a public hearing (this can be virtual or by teleconference) and submit the appropriate form. You do not need to submit any additional documentation to the department. If there are other topics for which you feel you need a waiver, please contact Tamara Mouw. Department staff will develop streamlined processes for all waiver requests we plan to grant.
While the department does not require school districts to submit anything other than the prescribed waiver form, local school boards may want to keep additional records. To that end, the Wisconsin Association of School Boards (WASB) has developed sample resolutions. DPI is linking to those below for your reference in the event a board wishes to use them to help organize and keep records locally of the board’s approval of any waiver requests. The WASB has prepared two sample versions:
Mike Thompson, PhD
Deputy State Superintendent