Daily Update From Commissioner Makin- March 23, 2020

Dear Champions of Education,

As both the COVID-19 situation and our State’s response to it continue to evolve, we know that you’re hoping for more answers.  Here are some very basic and general things to keep in mind as you focus on what is most important – leading

  1. LD 2167 (the omnibus emergency bill passed last week) included additional flexibility with respect to the required number of school days: “the Governor, in consultation with the Commissioner of Education, may implement for elementary and secondary schools a plan to: (1) Waive the compulsory attendance requirements of Title 20-A, chapter 211 and any rules regarding compulsory attendance, including the minimum number of school days, or allow the compulsory attendance requirements to be met through nontraditional learning systems, including but not limited to remote access;”  Therefore, we will waive the minimum number of required school days and attendance requirements for this school year.
  2. We have submitted a waiver for ESSA assessments and accountability system at US ED and are confident this will be granted.
  3. DOE will not be holding districts accountable for compliance with state statutes and regulations that are impossible to implement as a result of the COVID-19 disruptions.  We encourage you to focus on those regulations that involve health and safety at this time.
  4. We urge you to make plans for providing educational services for all of your students, including those with and without disabilities.
  5. As for your many other questions: it would be irresponsible for us to get out in front of issues that are subject to ongoing change due to this unprecedented challenge – we recognize that all districts and all schools are likely at different places in terms of resources, readiness, and capacity. We also have great faith in your professionalism, dedication and commitment to doing what is best for your students.

We are attempting to obtain wireless internet-enabled tablet devices that could be used by teachers and students who do not have internet access. The equity gap between those who are able to remain connected and those who are not has become increasingly impactful. Please let us know if there are other resources or supports that would be helpful to you during this time.