The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) said it will consider "targeted, one-year" waivers of federal accountability measures on student participation and absenteeism for schools closing for an extended period. Gov. Mike DeWine ordered all schools to close from the end of the day Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 3.
UDDOE also shared FAQ documents (see link below) for schools on student privacy considerations amid the outbreak, as well as how to navigate the laws and regulations on education for students with disabilities amid the outbreak.
In another video message to schools, Superintendent Paolo DeMaria reiterated "We will waive state requirements that stand in the way of us being successful," DeMaria said.
DeMaria said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved the state's waiver request in order to offer school meals to-go, and said he's hoping the federal agency will also grant the state's request to be able to deliver meals. DeWine also addressed the meal situation in his daily briefing on Friday. (See separate story, this issue).
Addressing the prospect of remote learning amid the school closings, DeMaria said, "The governor wants us to make an effort to provide education to students through alternative means." The superintendent said approaches will differ by school and urged them to think creatively, saying the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) will offer support.
However, one potential source of access to computers and technology for students, local libraries, are also feeling the effects of the virus, with many announcing closings. (See separate story, this issue.)
Mandy Minick, press secretary for ODE, said the agency recognizes the differences in resources available to schools.
As to the governor's call for education through alternative means, Minick said in an email, "We are telling schools this statement indicates that they should try to make a good faith effort within available capabilities to support continued learning outside of school."
Charter Communications said it would offer its Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi service for free for 60-days, including waiver of installation fees, for households with K-12 or college students who do not already have the service. The company also said it will open Wi-Fi hotspots across the company's footprint for public use.
Two members of the House, Reps. Jeffrey Crossman (D-Parma) and Lisa Sobecki (D-Toledo) wrote a letter Friday to DeMaria and DeWine urging the cancellation of state testing for the rest of the school year.
"Now that the governor has closed the schools, it is unfair to students, parents, and educators to have these tests hanging over their heads upon their return," Crossman said in a statement. "There simply will not be sufficient time to properly prepare students for these tests and to complete the remaining coursework for the academic year."
"Failing to cancel these tests now will only create more anxiety among the community and will result in an overly extended school year, which no one wants. People should be concerned about staying well during this unprecedented crisis," Sobecki said in a statement.
The USDOE FAQ on student privacy is available at https://tinyurl.com/w6typan .
The USDOE FAQ on education for students with disabilities is available at https://tinyurl.com/up2ltul .
ODE is maintaining an FAQ for schools and a running list of agency meetings it has cancelled on its website at www.education.ohio.gov.