News Briefs | FYI

September 7, 2020
Instructional time waivers for LEAs affected by fires
Local Educational Agencies impacted by recent wildfires are eligible to file waivers for missed instructional time. According to the CDE website, an LEA that closed due to a qualifying emergency in FY 2020–21 should submit a Form J-13A to avoid an instructional time penalty. LEAs are expected to offer distance learning while closed due to a public health order for COVID-19. However, if during that closure, another qualifying event occurs, the LEA may submit a Form J-13A to the CDE to request credit for the day of instruction lost. Find more information at
Nominate educators for distance learning award  The National Center for Learning Disabilities will present the Everyday Champion Award, recognizing outstanding achievements in remote learning during the 2020 pandemic. Awards, each in the amount of $5,000, will be presented to one educator, one administrator, and one parent/caregiver. Nominations may be made by any parent, teacher, community member, or administrator and are due Sept. 18, 2020. For complete criteria and to make a nomination, visit website has resources, FAQ on SB 98 The California Department of Education has released an online resource to help LEAs address questions related to distance learning pursuant to California Education Code 43500–43511 (Senate Bill 98), which can be found at
New framework creates tier system for CA school reopening Gov. Gavin Newsom has released a new statewide reopening framework that will impact when schools may reopen for in-person instruction.  The Blueprint for a Safer Economy replaces the state’s current county monitoring list with a four-tiered system of monitoring criteria and restricted activities.  Schools in the most severe tier “widespread” (purple) are closed for in-person instruction. Schools may reopen if their county moves from the “widespread” tier to the “substantial” (red) tier. To move from the “widespread” tier, counties must meet established health criteria for 14 consecutive days and remain below the purple tier for 14 days. In other words, a county must show improvement for 28 days total before its schools may reopen. Schools will also need to follow industry guidance when they do reopen.   Newsom described it as a “statewide, stringent and slow” plan that builds on lessons learned in the first six months of the pandemic. 
LAUSD begins virus testing and contact tracing program  LAUSD will begin regular testing and contact tracing of all staff and students in a first-of-its-kind attempt to use the data to bring students back to school campuses.  The program will start by testing on-site staff and their children who are receiving child care at school sites. It will then expand to students, who have started the 2020-21 school year in distance learning due to the state’s coronavirus reopening restrictions. Results will be available overnight.   “Since March, when the head of the World Health Organization told us pretty clearly, test, test, test — that’s the way to get ahead of this so you can isolate it and control it ... — we’ve started advocating for it,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner said during ACSA’s Legislative Lunch Break broadcast on Aug. 21.   The groundbreaking tracing program in the nation’s second largest district is a result of collaboration between UCLA, Stanford University, Johns Hopkins University, two testing companies, health insurers Anthem Blue Cross and Health Net, and Microsoft. The group is co-chaired by Beutner and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  “This is an enormous undertaking,” Beutner said. “We believe that while this is unprecedented, it’s necessary and appropriate.”  Beutner said the program would cost around $300 per student this year — and the cost of not doing it are greater given research on the benefits of having students learn in the classroom.  “This is about something more than dollars and cents. It’s about giving the children that opportunity,” Beutner said. “For many of our students it’s a path out of poverty. For all of them, it’s the promise of a better future. So three hundred bucks? We’ve got to find it.”  Once testing begins, Beutner said the district will be producing the best dataset on the prevalence of coronavirus in children in the world. The district will share this data to contribute to research on how to keep students in school during the pandemic.  “We can be part of the solution, and I hope we are,” he said. 
USDA extends summer meal program waivers The U.S. Department of Agriculture will extend the summer meal program waivers through as late as Dec. 31, 2020, allowing summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall.   “As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, in an Aug. 31 news release announcing the extension.  USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service is extending a suite of nationwide waivers for the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, including allowing meals to be served in all areas and at no cost, permitting meals to be served outside of the typically-required group settings and meal times, waiving meal pattern requirements as necessary, and allowing parents and guardians to pick-up meals for their children.   While some have called for extending the waiver for the entire 2020-2021 school year, the USDA said it is obligated to not spend more than is appropriated by Congress. Visit for more information. 

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