March 20, 2020

(Following is a brief summary of a teleconference with educators by senior officials from the US Department of Education, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and US Department of Agriculture. Notes taken by Rosalyn Newhouse, OHEN Board President)

Daniella Garcia Deputy Asst Director for Outreach (hosting)

Betsy DeVos, US Secretary of Education

Acknowledges students, teachers, parents experiencing disruption. “Team is here to be a resource and provide flexibility.” Acknowledges support and input from educators.

Noting that many states unable to administer annual assessments. President announced broad relief from federal testing mandates. States can apply for waiver to “Every Student Succeeds” mandates.

Providing student loan relief to at least month forbearance on application, loan interest rates at 0% for at least 60 days.

Mick Zais, US Deputy Secretary of Education

Corona Virus information at

Email questions to

Nancy Messonier, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, CDC

200,000 cases around the world. First 100,000 in three months, next 100,000 in twelve days.

14,000 cases in US, almost 200 deaths.

Expecting acceleration to continue. Recommend extra precautions for elderly and compromised, but all are at risk.

New guidelines nationwide to slow spread. “Fifteen Days to Slow the Spread.”

During school closures, requests minimizing interaction of kids via playdates, extracurricular activities. Kids may have mild symptoms but can be carriers.

No prediction on how long these measures will be in place. Recommends educators be planning for the future, including preventative measures.

Frank Brogan, Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education, US. Department of Education

Working with state and local education departments to ensure consistency and support. Waiving of federal requirements for standardized testing. Simple process for requesting waivers. Circumstances changing rapidly. Recognizes need for keeping informed.

Ken Marcus, Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights, US Department of Education

March 4, statement outlining response to harassment and bullying of Asian-Americans. Re Title VI of Civil Rights act.

March 11, webinar describing online education and accessibility and responsibilities under Civil Rights law. OCR available as a resource: Fact sheet describing additional civil rights issues particularly regarding disabilities.

Re: online learning, working to provide answers and procedures that are compliant for students with disabilities. OSERS also has resource.

Mark Schultz, Acting Assistant Secretary Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Has document outlining states’ responsibilities to infants, toddlers, students with disabilities. Has issued documents regarding school closures, effects on students with disabilities, alternate ways to deliver services. Need to provide necessary services for students requiring them.

Two offices providing data. More information to come.

Kala Shah Surprenant, Acting Director Student Privacy Policy Office, US Department of Education

Has issued documents regarding student privacy during closures during this time. Schools may not disclose personal information of students without parental permission. FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) permits certain exceptions in connection with emergency.

FERPA and school closures document at – list of resources.

email mailto:ferpa@ed.govwith questions.

Brandon Lipps, Deputy Undersecretary US Department of Agriculture Food Nutrition and

Taking action to ensure students are fed during school closures. Providing food packages to rural children. Similar to summer food service programs.

Streamlining SNAP and WIC requirements, waiving in-person requirements.

Questions and Answers:


How quickly will states receive waivers for testing? Moving to return to state and local control. Working with schools and districts to discover limitations relative to Corona Virus. Simplifies waiver request procedures, via online form. Should be able to respond within one business day. Working on additional flexibilities that might require congressional approval.

Can the request be from individuals or from a state agency? Must come from state agency because it applies to all within the state.

Any questions regarding waivers:


Assistant package grants for meals to children? Nationwide waivers to SNAP and WIC programs to carry out summer food packages. States can opt in to national waivers or apply for individual waivers.

How does local school district or school participate? – fill out application.

How can other other organizations participate in providing meals? Contact for information.


How often should authorities evaluate closure decision? What should they look for to evaluate further closure or reopening? Different experiences in different parts of the US. Local public health authorities most important resource. Things have been changing rapidly so recommend decisions every two weeks, but that might change depending on rate of transmission in different areas.

Projection models? Long range projections? CDC and other groups in US and globally are working on long-range projections. No real answers at this point. Social distancing is best tool to mitigate impact and duration.


Is a Local Education Agency required to provide appropriate services to students with disabilities? If schools are closed, the LEA is not required to provided services. IEP team required to make individualized determination if the LEA is providing continuing education services.

May an IEP term consider distance learning as a contingency? Yes, but they are not required to.


What activities may or may not be provided with IDA part B funds? IDA part B funds may be used by LEA to provide continuity to children with special needs. May not be used for dissemination of guidance related to COVID-19 for general education population. Funds can be used for distance learning, online learning.