COVID-19

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information and Resources
 Resources for Families 
Resources for Homeless Liaisons

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Resources for Educators
Legislation
FAQ Highlights
Should school divisions comply with the McKinney-Vento Act during the COVD-19 school closures?

Yes. Students experiencing homelessness continue to have educational rights under the McKinney-Vento Act during these closures. Liaisons should continue to identify students already enrolled in the school division who lose their housing, and these students should be flagged in the student record collection system. As students experiencing homelessness move, they continue to have the right to remain enrolled in the current school and receive services. Remaining in the school of origin is the preferred option for serving students under McKinney-Vento; however, if a parent or guardian or unaccompanied homeless youth wishes to enroll in the local school for the current attendance zone, the enrollment should occur and services comparable to those other students are receiving should be provided. If the school division disagrees with the enrollment, the student should be enrolled and the dispute process, including providing written notice, should be implemented. 

Project HOPE-VA is conducting virtual weekly check ins with liaisons that include practices to assist with implementation of McKinney-Vento during this crisis, and minutes from the meetings are provided to all liaisons. Questions can be directed to Dr. Patricia A. Popp at homlss@wm.edu.
What should LEAs do in regards to student enrollment, including Kindergarten, during the mandated school closure? 

LEAs should create a process to receive enrollment. Recognizing that enrollment is an essential business function, school divisions should be open for all student enrollments. LEAs should require the number of individuals present for enrollment be below 10 and follow appropriate social distancing and hygiene precautions for anything transactions that cannot be facilitated online. Scheduled appointments are recommended to avoid gatherings of 10 or more individuals including school division personnel.

How should schools provide free meals to students who are experiencing homelessness and students placed in foster care who are enrolled in their school of origin but living in another school division?

Students experiencing homelessness and those placed in foster care are categorically eligible for free school meals. During the current school closures, students may receive their meals in the community in which they currently live. Foster care liaisons and homeless education liaisons should communicate with their families and inform them of the resources and options in the community where the family currently resides. School division liaisons have been sharing their processes and connecting with their families. In addition, some school divisions have transported meals to out-of-district families with children enrolled in their schools. A listing of foster care liaisons can be found at: https://education.wm.edu/centers/hope/fostercare/index.php; the homeless education listing can be found at: https://education.wm.edu/centers/hope/liaison-listing/. Additional questions related to the education of students in foster care and students experiencing homelessness can be directed to Project HOPE-Virginia at homlss@wm.edu.

What USDA waivers are available for school and child nutrition programs, and how do local school divisions elect to use these?

Please see the School Nutrition: COVID-19 Waivers worksheet that describes the current waivers available for School and Child Nutrition Programs administered by the VDOE.

Can divisions serve multiple days of food at once?

School Food Authorities (SFAs) can provide multiple days worth of meals with an approved waiver and application in place with the VDOE. This is a good option for decreasing contact and increasing ease of access for families. Home delivery can also occur. This requires written parental consent.  Please contact your SNP Regional Specialist or Sandy Curwood at sandy.curwood@doe.virginia.gov for assistance.

What guidance should local school divisions provide to parents regarding immunizations and physical exams required for student’s admission into the school building?    

Student enrollment should continue as advised by VDOE. School divisions should continue to follow admission requirements required by the Code of Virginia. School divisions should encourage parents to contact their health care provider regarding their child’s immunization schedule and physical examinations. Additional information and guidance with a focus on uninsured students and the availability of immunizations and physical examinations will be provided by VDOE in a Superintendent’s Memo.    

 Are school divisions going to be required/expected to serve meals to students after the conclusion of their academic year?

The issue is unrelated to the school year and really about the needs of children. It is strongly encouraged that school divisions continue to provide meals to children through the end of the school year and into what would be the traditional summer food service program. As long as the COVID-19 pandemic public health concerns continue, so should the meal programs that ensure children have access to school meals. School divisions should consider these factors in their decision to serve meals: addressing food insecurity for their community's low- income children, generating revenue to pay staff, minimizing the negative fiscal impact of paying staff that aren't generating revenue, and supporting the local economy by bringing dollars and tax revenue.

Please share guidance related to online or distance learning during an extended school closure.

The impact to students during an extended school closure can be significant. The learning time and support students receive at school are not easily supplemented or replaced. Understanding the desire and responsibility of parents and educators alike to provide continuity for every student in their thinking and learning, many school divisions are assessing the feasibility of providing online learning in the event of extended school closures. In looking at this option, it is important to consider the practical steps necessary to appropriately serve every student equitably and the extent to which a traditional school environment can be quickly replicated online. It is not a simple task, nor is it one that should be attempted without serious consideration of equity and access. Schools should thoughtfully evaluate their approach, understand their legal obligations, and maintain the standards for delivery of instruction and student supports. Services, programs and activities online must be accessible to persons, including individuals with disabilities unless equally effective alternative access is provided in another manner (U. S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, 2020). Divisions may have the capacity to explore expanding or offering online learning. Divisions should apply an equity lens and consider the impacts on underserved groups, including students of color, students with disabilities, emerging bilingual students, students experiencing poverty and homelessness, and students who belong to other protected classes. Consider whether the model will improve or worsen disparities between populations. Consider barriers to equitable implementation and unintended consequences. Shifting from a “brick and mortar” school environment to online learning that meets the regulations of holding “school” is a complex task that requires thoughtful planning, serious consideration of practicality, and assessment of risk. This assessment of risk should consider the impact of compensatory education and exposure for local school divisions to dispute resolution. Additional guidance is also available from the U. S. Department of Education (USED) including a short webinar on online education and website accessibility and a fact sheet on addressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the civil rights of students.