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COVID-19 FAQs


Will CDE provide a statewide waiver from instructional hours and days requirement?

Answer: UPDATE: CDE will provide a statewide waiver from instructional hours and days requirements (C.R.S. 22-32-109(1)(n)) with the expectation that every district communicates their plans to support learning during this time to the department. CDE wants to make this as easy as possible and so in order to minimize time spent on reporting to CDE, each district will simply need to submit a copy of one example of communications that the district has shared, or will share, with students and families regarding their alternative learning plan.

By sharing an example of communications with students and families, CDE can help make connections across districts, understand the diverse landscape of learning needs, offer more targeted supports, gather best practices and anticipate future policy decisions. Districts are not required to submit every communication; submissions should reflect districts' most representative communication regarding alternative learning plans. If district communications to students and families do not address district charter schools, districts may attach individual communications from charter schools.

CDE will not require a submission or tracking of attendance for individual students. With that in mind, we believe attendance or participation information will be helpful for districts in identifying possible areas of need to ensure all students are able to stay actively engaged in remote learning. CDE will be leaving decisions on grades and grade-level promotion to local districts.

CDE requests districts email a copy of their most representative communication(s) to CDE Chief Operating Officer, Jennifer Okes, at okes_j@cde.state.co.us by April 17, 2020. Please let Jennifer know if you anticipate any challenge in being able to share this information by that time and we can work with you on that.

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What should districts consider in developing plans for alternative learning?

Answer: CDE acknowledges how challenging and evolving these circumstances are and how varied our districts are in their resources and capabilities. When school cannot be conducted in-person, we know that it is not possible to provide the same educational experience. We know it will take creativity, ingenuity and flexibility to provide alternative learning opportunities for students and that those will differ based on local contexts and individual student needs.

Please visit this webpage to see guidance recommendations.

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Will students take the end-of-the-year state assessments this spring?

Answer: On Tuesday, March 17, the Colorado Department of Education announced the cancellation of the administration of the 2019-20 Colorado Measures of Academic Success assessments due to extensive school closures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CDE continues to work with The College Board to generate possible solutions for the administration of the PSAT and SAT tests, which offer unique roles in Colorado's system in terms of scholarships and college entrance. Additional information will come from CDE as it is made available.

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Did CDE receive a waiver from USDOE for assessments and accountability?

Answer: Yes. On Tuesday, March 24, CDE received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education for specific assessment and accountability requirements for this school year.  CDE applied for the waiver due to extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures. 

The waiver covers:

  • requirement to administer all required assessments in the 2019-2020 school year, section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA and or,  
  • the accountability and school identification requirements that a State annually meaningfully differentiate all public schools and the requirements to identify schools for comprehensive and targeted support and improvement and additional targeted support and improvement based on data from the 2019-2020 school year, sections 1111(c)(4) and 1111(d)(2)(C)-(D) and or,  
  • the state report card requirements related to assessments and accountability in section 1111(h) for the 2019-2020 school year (see waiver for details)

CDE invites all interested parties to submit any comments related to the waiver by Friday, April 24, to ESSAquestions@cde.state.co.us or mailed to:

Colorado Department of Education
Federal Programs Unit
1560 Broadway, Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80202-5149

Please share this notice with any interested members of your community including, but not limited to, parents, educators, and school administrators. Additional information regarding the waiver can be found on the Federal Programs Unit website.

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How will CDE provide administrative relief for grant reimbursement?

Answer: CDE's Office of Grants Fiscal is committed to working with Colorado schools, districts, and BOCES to provide them with the maximum operational flexibility necessary to continue operations as they recover from extended school or program closures due to public health crisis. The department has identified the following barriers which can impact the reimbursement for allowable grant expenditures during the recovery period:

  • Documentation needed to support reimbursement of funds
  • Reporting deadlines
  • Cash Flow
  • Availability of electronic infrastructure to access reporting systems

View a list of Grant Programs and COVID-19 Related Expenses

To the greatest extent possible, the department will take steps to address, find administrative relief, and develop strategies on a case-by-case basis with regard to the impact, estimated recovery period and flexibility within federal, state, and local regulations. We are committed to collaborating with districts and expediting necessary work necessary. CDE encourages all affected parties to contact the department with any requests for assistance. Contact Jennifer Okes, CDE's chief operating officer, at okes_j@cde.state.co.us or 303-866-2996.

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What flexibility is offered under ESEA with respect to meeting Maintenance of Effort (MOE)?

Answer: There is some flexibility in the MOE provisions in the ESEA per the U.S. Department of Education (September 2018) "Non-Regulatory Guidance on Flexibility and Waivers for Grantees and Program Participants Impacted by Federally Declared Disasters (for Academic School Year 2018-19).

It is important to understand the delay in when the current year's expenditures are taken into account for MOE determinations. For example, expenditures in school year 2017-2018 (fiscal year (FY) 2017 funds) will not affect MOE determinations until school year 2019-2020 (FY 2019 funds). In 2019-2020, the "preceding fiscal year" for MOE determinations will be expenditures for school year 2017-2018; likewise, expenditures in school year 2017-2018 will be the "second preceding fiscal year" for MOE determinations for school year 2020-2021 (FY 2020 funds). Under the MOE provisions in section 8521(b)(2) of the ESEA, an LEA that does not maintain effort during school year 2017-2018 (i.e., based on expenditures during the July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 period) would not be penalized with a reduction in Federal FY 2019 (school year 2019-2020) ESEA funds unless the LEA also failed to maintain effort in one or more of the five fiscal years preceding July 1, 2017. If an LEA faces a reduction in FY 2019 ESEA funds, the LEA (or the SEA on the LEA's behalf) may request an MOE waiver under section 8521(c)(1), which gives the department the authority to waive the MOE requirements in the case of a natural disaster or another exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance.

Finally, we note that, under 34 CFR § 299.5(d)(2)(i), an SEA excludes from an ESEA MOE determination supplemental expenditures of taste and local funds made as a result of a Presidentially declared disaster. Therefore, if an LEA's expenditures increase significantly in school year 2017-2018 due to increased spending in response to such a disaster, the SEA will exclude these expenditures from MOE calculations, which will decrease the possibility that a one-time increase in school year 2017-2018 expenditures will cause an LEA to fail to maintain effort in school year 2018-2019 (affecting allocations for the 2020-2021 school year) when expenditures from school year 2018-2019 are compared to school year 2017-2018 expenditures.

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How will students who rely on the school nutrition programs be affected?

Answer: CDE's School Nutrition Unit is working with schools and districts and the USDA on emergency feeding operations. You can reach Brehan Riley, director of CDE's School Nutrition Unit, at 303-866-6299 or riley_b@cde.state.co.us.

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How does CDE interact with school nurses during a public health crisis?

Answer: Sarah Blumenthal in CDE's Health and Wellness Unit serves as the liaison between Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and school nurses. Sarah can be reached at 303-866-6779 or blumenthal_s@cde.state.co.us.

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How can I get in touch with my local heath department?

Answer: Look up your local public health agency on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) website.

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What are some considerations for charter schools when schools close?

Answer: CDE advises the charter school to close if the geographic district it is located in closes, but this does not mean ceasing all operations. The school should still make every effort to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time while taking into account the needs of their local community. Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) schools should also abide by the closure plan of the geographic district. If the school is subject to a mandatory closure per the Governor’s direction, the school is required to close its buildings regardless of the status of the geographic district. UPDATE:  Gov. Polis extended his executive order to suspend in-person instruction through the end of the 2019-20 school year for all public and private elementary and secondary schools in Colorado. Please review the order for additional information.

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What about READ Act assessment and Results Matter assessment requirements?

Answer: CDE is suspending spring K-3 READ Act and CPP Results Matter assessment requirements for state reporting purposes. If in-person instruction resumes this spring, teachers should exercise their judgement on the feasibility of giving the spring assessments to provide information to parents and to inform their instructional planning.

The department will not collect spring reading assessment data and instead will base per pupil intervention funding for the 2020-21 school year on 2019-20 information. At this time, the department is determining what it will require to be submitted in the spring READ collection beyond a budget and narrative for use of READ funds in the 2020-21 school year, and we will be extending the submission timeline.

CDE is reviewing other program requirements for CPP, including the annual spring report, to determine ways to streamline reporting for districts during the challenging time. Information regarding timelines for the READ budget submission, distribution of 2020-21 READ funds and adjustments to spring CPP reporting is forthcoming.

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What should we do about students who don’t meet the minimum immunization requirements during COVD-19? 

Answer: CDPHE has issued the following guidance:

A strategy for health care providers to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to limit face-to-face visits for routine medical care. This change in practice also limits the ability of many parents to get their children appropriately vaccinated during the pandemic. 

Colorado students should be allowed to attend child care and school even if their immunizations are not up-to-date at this time. As disease-spread declines and health care providers are able to accept patients for routine medical care again, parents will be able to more easily access immunization services. Child care facilities and schools who access CIIS can follow their students' immunization status and encourage up-to-date immunization compliance as soon as reasonably possible.

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