2019 Act 185 Report on Virtual Instruction and School District Operations
Report on the impact of the public health emergency (COVID-19) on virtual instruction and school district operations during the 2019-20 school year (December 30, 2020)
On March 12, 2020, Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (Executive Order 72). The following day, March 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Health Secretary-designee Andrea Palm issued an Order for Statewide School Closure. The order required all public and private K-12 schools across the state to close to in person instruction, beginning on March 18, 2020. While the initial order anticipated that schools would reopen on April 6, subsequent orders closed all K-12 schools statewide to in person instruction through June 30, 2020.
2019 AB 1038 was introduced on April 13, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health emergency. Governor Evers signed AB 1038 into law on April 15, 2020, as 2019 Act 185 (Act 185). Act 185 requires the Department of Public Instruction to collect information from school districts regarding the impacts of the school closures.
All school districts are required to complete the Act 185 survey to fulfill the mandatory reporting requirements under 2019 Act 185 [Section 105(3)].
Under 2019 Act 185 [Section 105 (3)], school boards are required to report to the Department of Public Instruction (DPI), by November 1, 2020, information about the delivery of virtual instruction to students by public schools during the period of school closures. Additionally, Act 185 requires school boards to report data pertaining to meals served to students during the school closures, as well as the fiscal and staffing impacts of the public health emergency and school closures on school district operations.
DPI will be using the information from the school district reports to produce the required state report to the Legislature by January 1, 2021. The report will also be posted on this website.
School districts are encouraged to preview the questions in the survey instrument prior to opening the survey for completion, so as to facilitate collection of the required information from district staff who have access to the data requested in the survey.
The notice to district administrators regarding this survey can be accessed here.
Recommended Steps for Completing the Act 185 Survey:
1. Designate a primary contact to complete this survey in order to facilitate the gathering of the information requested in the survey.
3. Review survey questions to determine which district staff will need to be contacted to gather the data.
4. Distribute the survey questions to staff and direct staff to provide responses to the primary contact.
5. When all responses are ready for entry, the primary contact should enter the responses directly into the survey webpage.
Survey responses must be submitted into the survey webpage to report this information to DPI. Please do not send survey responses to DPI.
The following presentation may be helpful in preparing you to respond to the survey questions. The PDF presentation does not have audio; in order to hear the "walk through" of the survey questions, select the YouTube video (second link below):
For questions about the survey or the requirements under 2019 Act 185 pertaining to the mandated report, please send an email to: DPIAct185Survey@dpi.wi.gov.
For purposes of the reporting on virtual instruction, under 2019 Act 185:
- “ ‘Public health emergency’ means the period during the 2019-20 school year when schools were closed by the Department of Health Services, under s. 252.02 (3).” The specific timeframe was from March 12 through June 30, 2020.
- “ ‘Virtual instruction’ means instruction provided through means of the Internet if the pupils participating in and instructional staff providing the instruction are geographically remote from each other.”
Related 2019 Act 185 Requirements
Act 185 also requires DPI to post guidance to schools on best practices related to transitioning from virtual instruction to in-person instruction, on its Internet site. DPI has created the Education Forward webpage to house guidance documents for Wisconsin district and school leaders to use as they plan for a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school for the 2020-21 school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional information pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic and K-12 schools can be found on DPI’s COVID-19 Information web page.