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Updated COVID-19 District Flexibility Application

Friday, September 11, 2020

Dear District Administrator,

The Department of Public Instruction has updated the COVID-19 District Flexibility Application to better address questions around flexibility versus the need for a waiver. Specifically, the following information is now present in the background information that accompanies the application.

The COVID-19 Pandemic in Wisconsin creates uncertainty and variability in normal operations for public school districts across the state for the 2020-21 school year. Indeed, what is predictable based on current experiences is that the continuity of delivery of typical programming and instruction will be disrupted and necessarily fluctuate with evolving health conditions affecting families, students, and school staff.

Flexibility will be required for all school operations given the inconsistent and variable access to both students and staff in the coming months. Typically, scheduled programs and instructional delivery may be disrupted, both on a day day-to-day basis as well as within any given day. Shifts between virtual, remote, and in-person instructional delivery for individual students, cohorts, or entire schools and districts may occur and determine the continuity of program implementation. During the current pandemic, it is recognized that school districts have the flexibility when needed to implement changes to how a program is delivered, how much of a program is delivered, and who delivers it. Temporary variations like this to planned school operations do not need a waiver.

While these predictable irregularities serve to disrupt the normal flow of programming implementation or delivery, they do not necessarily require an entire program or service to be discontinued for the 2020-21 school year. A waiver should be pursued only where a district anticipates or has determined it cannot offer a program or service required under the law during the 2020-21 school year. In addition, a waiver will be needed if a district does not anticipate being in compliance with a statutory requirement by virtue of the design of its plan of instruction. There will likely be few of these situations. Where this is the case, the district should complete a request for waiver from a particular statute and explain the circumstances that will require a formal waiver.

If you have questions about the COVID-19 District Flexibility Application, please contact Tamara Mouw, Director, Teaching and Learning Team.