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District Planning and Implementation Resources for Continuity of Learning

For latest information on COVID-19 School News check out the following: DPI COVID-19 website to connect to all agency topics and District Administrator MailingsFollow @WisDPITech for daily resource and idea-sharing along with district success stories around Virtual Learning Time.

Virtual Learning Time Resources for Continuity of Learning

Virtual Learning Time

DPI resource sharing for Virtual Learning Time to support districts in starting their planning and stakeholder engagement plans.  Districts are advised to consult with their school board and legal counsel if there are any concerns about meeting local policies and student accommodation obligations.

The annual Wisconsin Digital Learning survey results provides indicators about district readiness in Wisconsin and data to indicate almost 100% of our schools leverage the Google for Education suite of tools (see the Google Teach from Home Resource Center). Our Wisconsin digital equity pillars define four characteristics to ensure schools can serve all students:  accessible digital content, a designated computer at home for school activities, internet access, and digital literacy training for staff and students.

District and Building Level Resources for Virtual Learning Time Planning

Sample District Resources from e-snow days 2019 -extended learning related to COVID - 19 planning in first menu tab below

Extended VLT Time/COVID 19 Planning Resources

COVID- 19 District Resources Sharing Folder: Plans, Learning Guides, and more
Instructional Technology Resources, WI Digital Content Providers, Best Practices, and Low Technology Options

Wisconsin Partner Digital Content and Providers

Professional Learning and Resource Curation Examples to Get Your Staff Started

Google Resources for Extended Home Learning

Notification tools

Tools such as the below can help educators stay in contact with families and older students (through messaging, chat, photofeed) without sharing personal contact information, and will translate messages into 35+ languages. 

Video/web conferencing tools

Depending on the available features or type of license, educators can use online conferencing tools to connect with students synchronously; interact through video, audio, and chat; and show a screen. Teachers can also set up collaborative work sessions between older student groups and/or record lessons to post online for student reference.

Low Technology Options/Phone Access Options 

Traditional communication tools, such as phone, e-mail, websites, and popular common social media channels

  • Communications

    • Personal Cell phone (block number with *67) - consider personal data plan limits and option to use web-based tools that can do phone calls

    • Zoom Phone access

    • Google Meet Dial Access - Only if added by your Google administrator

    • Email/Newsletters - Keep communication lines open

    • Remind - many teachers & coaches use this for two-way messaging that will not show personal cell phone numbers (

      FERPA & COPPA link for Remind)

  • Collaboration

  • Digital Content - access via televison for students of all grades
    • Our PBS Wisconsin partners are organizing at home learning materials for educators and families that include television access to programming. Check out Family Resources and Support for Home Learning from PBS Wisconsin website to find grade level information, family subscription to newsletter with daily updates and program schedules, as well as supporting instructional materials. The PBS programming resources have a variety of media components for family including television (in addition this material can stream on the web), interactive apps, educational games, recorded lectures, and more for students.
Best Practice Guides and Standards for Online Learning - Administrators, Students, Educators/Instructional Design, Parents/Families

Standards of Readiness for District Administrator Teams

Best practices for students in online learning

Best practices for parents supporting students in online learning

Best practices for educators teaching in an online learning environment

Student Online Expectations, Netiquette, Digital Citizenship in Remote Learning, Webconferencing Best Practices

Student Online Expectations

  • Online Learning from the Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative

Essential Digital Citizenship Lessons for COVID-19 from Common Sense Media

Webconferencing Etiquette and Safety Tips  (please send any additional tips to to add to the list or resources to link related to this topic)

Innovative Ways to Address the Digital Divide During Extended School Closings

The annual Wisconsin Digital Learning Survey results provides indicators about district readiness in Wisconsin and data to indicate almost 100% of our schools leverage the Google for Education suite of tools. Our Wisconsin digital equity pillars define four characteristics to ensure schools can serve all students: accessible digital content, a designated computer at home for school activities, internet access, and digital literacy training for staff and students. During these extraordinary times there are low technology and community opportunities to support at home learning as well as connections to help provide social emotional supports. Innovative thinking and community planning with resources can offer solutions to serve students and families.

Preserving Home Data Plans or Reduced Service within a home

  • Mix up options for students to join by phone or internet access to any of the web-conferencing tools
  • Consider limiting video sharing by non-participants during session to reduce bandwidth demands
  • Leverage email as the primary communication tool versus synchronous tools
  • Select instructional materials that may have lower bandwidth needs or supplemental materials in mixed non-tech formats so students can preserve data usage throughout the day
  • Encourage students to use their own personal data and service plans for non-academic activities

Devices in the home designated for educational use

  • Districts who were not 1:1 or did not have a take-home devices have identified ways to supplement home access.  Surveys to parents and students asked a series of questions about personal devices (think of it as a home BYOD option) with sharing by no more than two students in the home as well as the level of personal internet access that could support both all family member working from home.

Digital Literacy Skills of Students and Family/Caregivers

  • Keep it simple - leverage what students are familiar with, create simply how to's, offer technical support via office hours or individual supports, encourage students to be tech mentors for each other, allow practice times so students are comfortable with any new tools.
  • Create a student and family online learning guide and instructions document (samples are available in the tab for shared district resources and best practice guides).
  • Stay in contact with families and caregivers with email updates, weekly plan outlines, and individual student follow up.  Districts have built in communication tools with the student information systems, messaging tools, and also posting information on websites or digital classroom sites.

Digital Literacy Skills of Educators

  • Organize grade level or content level teachers to plan and create instructional activities together so teachers lacking in digital literacy skills have mentors and support.  Consider organizing these teams with similar virtual office hours in case there need to be coverage due to illness or other personal emergencies.
  • Leverage non-teaching certified staff to help support digital literacy mentoring and integration in effective lesson planning as well selecting high quality digital content resources.
  • Check out our instructional technology tab as there are resources and ideas aligned to the most used tools in schools as indicated by our annual Digital Learning Survey.  

Communication tools

  • There are alternatives for students and families with limited home access and technology tools.  Please check out the tab Instructional Technology Resources, Best Practices, and Low Technology Options for ideas on how phone lines can connect with online classroom expectations.

Digital Content and Alternative Access Opportunities Within a Home (television access to learning content)

  • Some states are working with local broadcasting companies to run age-appropriate and school content during the day posting out a schedule for families along with activities. Local districts should connect with any local broadcasting options in their own community. 
  • Our PBS Wisconsin partners are organizing at-home learning materials for educators and families that include television access to programming.  Check out Family Resources and Support for Home Learning from PBS Wisconsin website to find grade-level information, family subscription to the newsletter with daily updates and program schedules, as well as supporting instructional materials.  The PBS programming resources have a variety of media components for the family including television (in addition this material can stream on the web), interactive apps, educational games, recorded lectures, and more for students.

Digital Content, Learning Management System, and Professional Development

Home (including community access) Internet for adult remotes workers and students as well as telehealth supports

  • Continue to check the DPI Offers for Services and Resources for Schools during COVID-19 for updates related to internet offers and information from the WI Public Service Commission 

    Internet Resources for Wisconsin Residents during Public Health Emergency

  • Districts can redistribute school building wifi hubs to fronts of buildings in case students and families want to use while coming to schools for a meal or instructional materials pick up.  This is a similar strategy for community leaders to consider.

  • Districts with wifi hubs on buses can park the buses around identified low access areas in communities which can assist both students and families to preserve personal data and allow for online engagement (including things like telehealth services, community health sharing information, school communications)

  • Large internet hubs that may be positioned within larger suburban and urban areas for free city access may be repositioned or doubled up in high need residential areas to ensure all students and families can get online

  • Larger cities and urban areas with public buses that have internet access could park these buses if services are shut down in sheltering orders or routes decreased
  • Landlords or real estate owners could open up internet access building-wide for students and families or create spaces with adequate social distancing to allow access during school hours

Drone Delivery Resources to Support Social Distancing Standards

  • There are companies that currently are exploring Drone Delivery services. Within communities, there may be services, businesses, or options to explore drone capabilities.

US Mail or Delivery Services

  • Delivery services are still an option as advice around cleaning packages or allowing a package to sit for a time.  Schools are devising packaging protocols with sealed bags and secure personal handling processes for a variety of distribution programs - meals, devices, instructional materials, and more.

School Schedules, Data Around Student (and Family) Daily Times for Virtual Learning Time, Flexible Virtual Office Hours, Communication Strategies, and Extended Completion Times

  • Schools are surveying families to assess home situation to understand the times and situations when students are able to complete Virtual Learning Time. 
  • Flexibility by instructors for office hours or options to contact are highly encouraged (especially with the lower grade). 
  • Schools have the option to determine the weekly schedule for students and also create flexibility in completion dates to ensure all students have the supports they need.
  • School and home communication networks that are multi-modal and flexible will encourage more engagement and outreach by families when there is a need for academic supports.

If you have other innovative ideas to help close the digital divide in your community, please email them to to post on this site.

COVID-19 Infrastructure, Hardware, and Internet Access Information
COVID-19 Special Education Information for Virtual Learning Time and Online Learning

Please continue to refer to the Special Education tab on the DPI COVID -19 site  for all of the latest updates 

Extended School Closure for Students with IEPs due to COVID-19 Special Education Question and Answer Document (3/18/20)

  • The ED issued new resources around protecting student privacy and addressing questions regarding serving students with disabilities during the COVID-19 outbreak. If a school is closed for an extended period of time (generally, more than 10 consecutive school days) and educational services are not provided to other students, then services are not required for students with disabilities during the closure. Once school resumes, local educational agencies must make every effort to implement individualized education plans, and should consider, on an individualized basis, whether and to what extent compensatory services are required due to the closure. If a school provides services through virtual learning, the school must ensure students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities, and that to the greatest extent possible, special education and related services are provided. More information about virtual learning may be found here.
  • How do we do this for students who cannot attend an online forum such as our high need populations who have very individualized plans, non-verbal students, etc.? If services cannot be provided through an online opportunity that is available to other students, then the LEA must determine what compensatory services are required once the student is able to return to school.

  • If the school district does not provide any virtual learning to compensate for school closures, then special education minutes do not need to be met. However, if a school district does offer virtual learning, and there are services that cannot be offered to special education students (e.g., OT, PT, Speech, Functional Living Skills), what should LEAs do? When educational services are provided through virtual learning and some special education services cannot be provided in that way, LEAs should make every effort to provide compensatory services to make up for the minutes lost, so the student is provided their full educational day. The department, though, understands that in some cases, this may not be possible.

  • What are considerations prior to offering special education or related services using teleservices? For students who receive special education services through an Individualized Education Program, prior to implementing teleservices, the LEA should ensure that any services offered comply with both FERPA and HIPPA. In addition, professionals may have additional requirements when licensed by the WI Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) or certified by a national professional association (e.g., American Physical Therapy Association, American Occupational Therapy Association, American Psychological Association, American Speech-Language Hearing Association). 

The American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) identified the following recommendations prior to implementing teleservice:

  • Have a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) in place with the videoconferencing company to assure that the transmission of information from provider to client and client to provider is encrypted. Encryption is necessary to provide the first level of compliance with HIPPA & FERPA laws.Resources: Zoom FERPA Document , Google for Education Privacy and Security Center
  • Verify WI licensing regulations for teleservices for various license types.
  • Verify that staff and the student have the necessary equipment and internet speed to engage in teleservices.

ASHA also recommends individual providers should verify that the following conditions are met:

  • Maintain a secure location for providing services that is not interrupted (e.g., having others walk into the room where you are providing service).
  • Maintain confidentiality using secure remote access to electronic documentation.
  • Verify that someone will be physically present with the student who can support the session activities.

From ASHA’s Telepractice Services and COVID-19.

Examples of strategies to serve students and families in extended Virtual Learning Time situations: daily communication check-in, assistive technology tools on a school-issued device for home use, flexible instructional design options to ensure work aligns with IEP, services defined by IEP are scheduled with enhanced communications or technologies to ensure continuity of learning, as well as other solutions discussed with families as districts have also conducted IEP meetings with virtual communication tools to agree upon services.

SETDA Coalition for eLearning resource- Supporting Students with IEPs and Accessibiity needs for administrators, special education teachers, teachers, and technology directors

Early Learners Information: Age & Developmental Learning Guidelines for Digital Learning

The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards Guiding Principles provide important guidelines for instructional design for our youngest learning. Core principles include: a child’s early learning and development is multidimensional; expectations for children must be guided by knowledge of child growth and development, and children learn through play and the active exploration of their environment. Some districts are creating non-digital learning options for early learners which is allowable as the communication with parents and guardians helps to bridge home and school learning.

English Language Learners

DPI understands the guidance can change quickly as the public health emergency due to COVID-19 evolves. To keep you informed the agency will update the English Learner FAQ.

Please check the EL webpage for additional information.
COVID -19 Virtual/Distance School Counseling During an Emergency Shutdown

Planning for Virtual/Distance School Counseling During an Emergency Shutdown from the American School Counselor Association

Resources on data privacy protections for web-conferencing resources

COVID -19 Virtual Charter Schools

Statement from DPI Parental Choice Team Assistant Director Michael Bormett, "As you’re likely aware, Governor Tony Evers directed DOH Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to close all public and private schools beginning at 5pm on Wednesday, March 18th. This order applies to any type of pupil instruction or extracurricular activity that occurs in a school building or on school grounds. Importantly, however, the order does not prevent a school from providing virtual instruction to pupils. See the K-12 FAQ from the Governor’s Office. In response to several questions from Wisconsin virtual charter schools (VCS), we want to communicate that VCS may remain open and continue their regular fully online curricular instruction, if they so choose and if there is no physical attendance requirement. Any physical attendance requirement would be prohibited under the DHS order. If a VCS remains open, those students will continue to be subject to attendance and/or failure-to-participate requirements, even if their resident district bricks-and-mortar schools are closed."

Attendance: DPI Guidance about Attendance During Emergency Closing

The department will not be requiring school districts to report attendance during the period you are closed for this public health emergency, regardless of whether you are offering instruction. Locally, if you choose to continue to take attendance, you have the latitude to determine how to do so, but that information will not need to be reported to DPI. (District Administrator Email 3.24.2020)

Virtual/Online/Blended Summer School Programming for Grades 7-12

According to PI 17, Wisconsin School Districts can offer blended and online summer school programs for grades 7-12 without students required to be on site or complete seat time requirements. 

The Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative  (CESA 9 and eSchool Network) provides district course offerings, turnkey technical platforms, and options for online certfied teachers or leveraging your district teachers.

Advanced Placement Exams - Supporting Home Testing options

The College Board is regularly posting updates to their website about COVID-19. These updates address virtual learning/remote instruction opportunities, as well as the latest plans for testing which may include home testing options that would require students to have access to a device and internet. To learn more, see COVID-19 AP Updates  

Wisconsin DPI Advancement Placement website

Online and Blended Learning Resources

Annual Virtual Learning Time Data

According to the annual Digital Learning Survey results for 2019-2020, 66 districts in Wisconsin have implemented some form of Virtual Learning Time and another 60+ districts are currently working on a plan. These plans could include Virtual Learning Time options for staff or students.

VLT time map 66 districts

Cooperative Education Service Agency (CESA) Implementation Contacts


The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, in collaboration with our Cooperative Education Service Agencies and the Wisconsin Digital Learning Collaborative, are providing implementation resources and district sessions to create a district Virtual Learning Time (VLT) plan.  Please contact any of the following CESA representatives to learn more.

Diane Rozanski

Kaye Henrickson
Beth Clarke

Aggie Salter
Missy Emler

Sara Fleischman
Tina Lemmens
Tammy Moynihan
Mia Chmiel
Sarah Lipke
Connie Erickson
Mary Maderich
For questions about this information, contact Janice Mertes (608) 267-1054