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COVID 19 Schools

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COVID 19 Schools

Florida Department of Education Guidance and Additional COVID-19 Resources for Private Schools

To help our educators lead their schools through this crisis with more ease, please find guidance below from the Florida Department of Education. You can find those documents on the DOE website here.

The Florida Department of Education has also created a COVID-19 resource page to give educators, parents and students free resources offered by state and federal agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations to help school districts, colleges, educators and families ensure continuity of learning during this time.

Additionally, we have gathered key information below so it’s easily accessible:

From the March 23, 2020 Florida Department of Education Emergency Order No.2020-EO-1, Section 5

  1. 1. Days of Instruction Requirement Updated: For the 2019-2020 school year, the requirement for each student to maintain direct student contact with teachers in order for a private school to participate in the state’s choice scholarship programs under s. 1002.421, Fla. Stat., is waived through April 15, 2020. (This date will likely be extended due to updated guidance from State Education Commissioner Corcoran asking public schools to remain closed through May 1, and asking public schools in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach to remain closed “until further notice”.)

During this period, such schools are recommended to keep their facilities closed except to staff and teachers, as per CDC guidance. (Please see Gov. DeSantis’ Executive Order on the “Safer at Home” stating that “all persons in Florida shall limit their movements and personal interactions outside of their home to only those necessary to obtain or provide essential services or conduct essential activities” until April 30.) To the extent possible these schools are directed to provide instruction virtually and by all other available means that do not involve direct instruction to scholarship students. Instruction provided in non-classroom settings, shall count toward “actual school instruction days” for purposes of satisfying the 170 days of required instruction for students participating in scholarship programs.

  1. 2. Norms-Referenced Assessment Requirement Waived: For the 2019-2020 school year, the requirement for private schools with scholarship students participating in the Florida Tax Credit, Family Empowerment, Hope and Gardner Scholarship programs to administer or cooperate in the administration of K-12 state assessments, and the requirement that the students participate in a norm-referenced assessment, is waived for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. The requirement to report the results of these cancelled or waived assessments to a state university under section 1002.395(8)(b), Florida Statutes, is also necessarily waived.

From the March 23, 2020 Florida Department of Education Emergency Order No.2020-EO-1, Section 6

  1. 1. Private Schools Encouraged to Apply for Federal Funds: In order to facilitate the remote connection between teachers and students, K-12 school districts, in coordination with the Department, are further permitted to redirect unspent Title II funds upon transferring funds to Title IV to help low-income students obtain digital devices and establish Internet services. This means that if you participated in the equitable services consultation process in Spring 2019 to apply for funds for the 2019-2020 school year, and your district is willing to transfer their Title II funds to Title IV, you may be able to access those funds to purchase devices for your students.

The Chancellor of Public Schools, Jacob Oliva, has shared with all public districts that they are able to transfer a portion of Title II funds to Title IV, even if they do not want to transfer all of it. This is what Broward County Public Schools is doing. Please reach out to your Title II District Contact ASAP to express your interest in accessing those funds this year and/or participating in the equitable services consultation process to participate in receiving funding for the 2020-2021 school year. That application process opened on April 1, so reach out now to participate.

For more about applying for Title II for the 2020-2021 school year, please watch this video. (They mention private schools around the 1:20 mark.) Each district determines the amount of funds available for equitable services by calculating, on a per-pupil basis, the amount available for all public and private school students enrolled in participating private elementary and secondary schools in their area, so you need to get counted in that number. If you are unable to get a response from your Title II contact or have questions about participating in any Title funding for next year, please reach out to the Equitable Services Ombudsman Nicolle Leider: 850-245-9349 or Equitableservices@fldoe.org.

From the “Related Documents” section of the Florida DOE Coronavirus (COVID-19) Important Documents website

Private Schools Encouraged to Utilize Florida Virtual School Courses/FLVS Extends 100 Courses to Districts: Florida Virtual School is providing 100 free digital courses to all Florida private schools (for new student enrollments related to COVID-19 school disruptions) if they have one of the following LMS platforms to access the courses: Blackboard (Ultra and v9.1), Buzz, Canvas, Brightspace (v9, v10), Moodle or Schoology. Courses are available from March 25 to June 30, 2020, and you must contract with them by May 31. To take advantage of this emergency service, please contact your FLVS District Relations Manager. These courses fall outside the typical restrictions placed on students receiving state scholarships outlined on the FLVS site and will not jeopardize a student’s eligibility for receiving scholarship funds. Any courses not on the list of free courses would still violate the course limit, so please be careful to only access the courses linked above.

From Step Up For Students March 24 email titled “IMPORTANT – Payment Distribution Update”

Private Schools Permitted to Use Electronic Payments for Florida Tax Credit and Hope Scholarships: Our technology team is working on a process for payments to be made electronically via ACH directly to your school’s business bank account. We are also working on a process for the parent/guardian to electronically approve the payment. This will eliminate the need for the parent/guardian to go to the school to endorse the check. This will also eliminate the need for a school official to go to the bank and deposit the checks. If you have not yet done so, please log into your Step Up For Students account and update your bank account information today. Bank account information must be for your school’s business account and will be validated before payments are made.

The Florida Department of Education will continue mailing checks directly to your school for your Family Empowerment Scholarship and McKay students. AAA Scholarship Foundation will also be mailing checks. Their parent or guardian will need to sign these checks. If you have any questions about that, please contact your DOE Regional Manager.

Modeling Resilience through COVID-19 webinar

If you are looking for some community and support during this difficult time, Step Up For Students Office of Student Learning has created a webinar series for school leaders on how to model resilience during this time of crisis and how to prepare your school community for when your students will return. Here’s a testimonial from one of last week’s participants: “Just about the time when we are feeling so overwhelmed with all the uncertainties and the emotional roller coasters, not to mention the stress in developing the e-learning platform, your session was so uplifting. Thank you very much. It is during these times of adversities that we truly understand why we are in the business of shaping the lives of these precious kids and young adults. Your session also gave us the assurance that we are not in this alone and we have some truly outstanding people working to get us through this.” 

Register for one of the upcoming options by clicking on these links:

Step Up For Students has created a COVID-19 resources page here. Feel free to share it with your school community. Our Office of Student Learning has also created a teacher resources page with tutorials on online learning.

We will continue sharing information to better serve you during these challenging times. We appreciate all the work you do for Florida’s schoolchildren.

We are all in this together,

The Step Up For Students Team

For help regarding scholarship applications, please call the Contact Center at 877-735-7837.

A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION (CH-14609) AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE 1(800)435-7352 OR ON THEIR WEBSITE FDACS.GOV. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE. SUFS SOLICITS 100 PERCENT OF ITS CONTRIBUTIONS AND DOES NOT CONTRACT PROFESSIONAL SOLICITORS.

© 2020. Step Up For Students, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3), EIN: 59-3649371, P.O. Box 54429, Jacksonville, FL 32245-4367