Dear District Administrators,
The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) continues to work closely with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and Department of Administration as this situation unfolds. I want you to know that as we move forward we will be in regular communication with you regarding any developments, and relevant updates through emails such as this. In addition, we will use the DPI SARS-CoV2 webpage to share the most recent information and available resources with you.
Department of Health Services Update
In announcing a third confirmed case of COVID-19 today, Wisconsin DHS stated, “If COVID-19 begins to spread in Wisconsin communities, state and local public health officials would consider community interventions such as temporary closures of child care facilities and schools, workplace social distancing, measures such as replacing in-person meetings with teleworking, and modifying, postponing, or canceling mass gatherings. Decisions about the implementation of community measures would be made by state and local officials based on CDC guidance, as well as the scope of the outbreak.”
In the event school is closed for an extended period of time, it is important to think about continuity of learning, as well as required education for students with special needs. To that end, DPI has provided information and created resources to help you get started if you plan to use virtual learning time as allowed under the state administrative code provisions (see innovative instructional design in Chapter PI 8 and our earlier communication on the topic of virtual learning on 2/18/19). The WI DPI District Planning and Implementation Resources for VLT - Continuity of Learning web page includes information and essential planning components.
We know virtual learning may not be an option and there are concerns about the number of instructional hours required. As a reminder, school boards, under Wisconsin Stat. 118.38, may request a waiver from DPI after a public hearing is held in the district. Historically, the department has not waived the hours requirement through this process. DPI does not anticipate approving waivers for hours at this time. Districts do have local flexibility to determine the means by which they meet the hours standard. As this situation evolves, we will continue to discuss this with you.
The DPI has also received questions about the testing window. Testing is both a federal and state requirement. The vast majority of students have already completed ACT testing. The Wisconsin Forward Exam and the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) assessments run from March 23 to May 1. In addition, the ASPIRE assessment window is April 6 to May 6. Given the unknowns associated with the spread of this virus, we would encourage you to consider testing earlier in that window to leave yourself flexibility should you need to close. We are not able to extend the testing window at this time. If there are allowed changes for testing or accountability purposes, we will contact you with updates.
Collaborating with Local Health Departments
Moving forward, it will be important that you are in close communication with your local health department. There may be disruptions to school, work, and general life activities. These may be isolated or broad in scope depending on the reach of the virus, but your local health department will best be able to guide you on specific health recommendations that impact your local community.
DPI Staff Resources
As a reminder, the DPI has the following staff available for your specific questions:
State School Nurse/Health Services Consultant Louise Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 266-8857.
Special Education Team via the web form at https://dpi.wi.gov/support/contact-special-education or at (608) 266-1781.
Janice Mertes, Assistant Director of Teaching and Learning - Learning Team at Janice.email@example.com or (608) 267-1054.
Viji Somasundaram, Director, Office of Student Assessment at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 267-1072.
Tamara Mouw, Director, Teaching and Learning Team at email@example.com or (608) 266-2364.
Jennifer Kammerud, Senior Policy Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 266-7073.
The department will continue to keep you updated through emails and the DPI website. Thank you for your continued work supporting our students and educators.