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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

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DESE-Related Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information

As the 2020-21 school year begins, some information related to the 2019-20 school year has been archived. To find that information, please click here. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) updates this page often with new details related to COVID-19 and DESE and/or public school operations. 

COVID-19 CASES AMONG SCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN: The State of Missouri has launched a new website for the state's expanded set of COVID-19 dashboards. Included in this data is information which tracks positive cases among all school-aged residents (ages 5-19), including non-public school students, in each school district's geographic boundary.

See the topics below and click to expand each of those sections for more specific information. DESE remains committed to doing all we can to remove barriers and provide public schools leaders the flexibility they need to remain focused on the health and safety of their students, staff members and communities.

Administrative Memos & Previously Released Documents
Adult Education (HiSET)
  • High School Equivalency (HISET) Testing Center Closings: A list of High School Equivalency (HiSET) testing center closings are posted on the HSE website. Closing updates will be made to the website as they become available.
Alternative Methods of Instruction
Antigen Testing

The federal government has prioritized public and private K-12 districts/schools to receive Abbott’s BinaxNOW rapid antigen test kits to test symptomatic school personnel and students for COVID-19. The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) strongly believes that these rapid antigen tests will be instrumental in both opening schools and keeping schools open so onsite education can safely be delivered to as many students as possible.

This minimally invasive nasal swab test must be administered by a health professional (e.g. a school nurse), and yields results in just 15 minutes. DESE has worked with the Department of Health and Senior Services and the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) to create a common sense approach to distributing these tests to K-12 schools that wish to have them available for onsite use. DHSS and DESE require the BinaxNOW tests to be used among symptomatic individuals in the school community, first among school personnel, followed by students.

Below are the steps school leaders can take to learn more about the antigen testing program:

Step 1) Review the Antigen Testing Program Guidance Document/Toolkit
The DHSS/DESE Guidance Document includes complete details about how the test works, who can administer it and the training those individuals will receive, how schools will acquire the test kits, how test results will be reported, and more.

Step 2) Review the 10/9 Informational Webinar
Before you complete the application, we encourage you to listen to the DHSS/DESE webinar held Friday, October 9. The webinar reviewed highlights from the toolkit and application – and provided an opportunity for school leaders and school nurses to ask important follow-up questions.

 

Step 3) Complete the Application to Receive Antigen Tests
Public and private K-12 districts/schools that wish to receive BinaxNOW tests to administer at school must first complete the online application. For security purposes, this link to this application is not being posted publicly. School officials can email Communications@dese.mo.gov to request the link to the application (sent previously to school leaders via email). DESE encourages school officials to review the guidance/toolkit and webinar (see above) prior to submitting your application. Online applications must be submitted by Noon on Wednesday, October 21. DESE will notify districts/schools when their application is approved.

Please note that the PPE necessary to administer these antigen tests will be provided by the state and shipped along with the test kits. More information about the PPE distribution will be forthcoming. See the bottom of pg. 3 in the Guidance Document for additional details.

Broadband Access & Digital Divide
  • The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has opened the Missouri Student Connectivity (MSC) Grant to address the digital divide for Missouri students, knowing that about one in five students did not have access to online learning opportunities when school buildings were closed last spring. DESE is now accepting applications for the MSC grant, which has two components: the Access project (MSC-A) and the Connections (MSC-C) project. These two projects have the combined purpose of increasing students’ access to both the internet and to digital learning resources by expanding school Wi-Fi networks and providing Wi-Fi enabled devices for students. Read more via Administrative Memo QS-20-009 here
  • Report on Internet Connectivity Survey
Calendars, Finance and Funding
CARES Act
CDC & Missouri Health Department Information
Civil Rights Resources for Schools
  • U.S. Department of Education Provides Technical Assistance Amid Pandemic: The U.S. Department of Education’s (USED’s) Office for Civil Rights has released new COVID-19-related technical assistance for elementary and secondary schools. The technical assistance document, Questions and Answers for K-12 Public Schools in the Current COVID-19 Environment, is issued primarily in response to inquiries received by USED and provides important information related to schools’ obligations under Section 504/Title II, Title VI and Title IX as schools continue to make decisions regarding the provision of educational services for all children.
COVID-19 Messages for Children
  • A recent video from Mayo Clinic can help prepare children for a COVID-19 nasal swab test and ease some of their potential fear and anxiety. When children are prepared to take a medical test, they become more cooperative and compliant, which creates a positive coping experience for them. This video is suitable for children as young as four years old.
  • For the 2020-21 school year, we know that students and educators across the state can't wait to be together at school again when it's safe to do so, even if things look different because of COVID-19. See this full video for students as they prepare for returning to school this fall. (Also available with Spanish captions)
  • The State of Missouri and Governor Mike Parson have created a special message just for Missouri kids, to make sure they know how to help stop the spread of #COVID19. Schools, educators and families, please share with the children in your lives. See the full video here.
Educator Preparation and Certification
  • State Board of Education Approves Alternative Route to Obtain Substitute Certificate: Through both a proposed amendment and an emergency rule, the Missouri State Board of Education approved an alternative route for individuals to obtain a substitute certificate of license to teach. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) requested an additional path after consulting with education groups to help address the shortage of substitute teachers throughout the state.
    • Currently, individuals looking to obtain a substitute certificate must complete 60 semester hours or more of college-level credit from a DESE-recognized and regionally accredited academic degree granting institution. Individuals who possess a high school diploma or equivalent may complete a 20-hour state-approved substitute teacher online training to be eligible for a substitute certificate. The training includes topics such as professionalism, honoring diversity, engaging students, foundational classroom management techniques, basic instructional strategies, supporting students with special needs, and working with at-risk youth. Learn more by visiting the DESE Substitute Teacher page here.
  • Becoming a Certified Teacher: Educator Preparation & Educator Certification continue to work closely with Missouri Educator Preparation Programs (EPP) to ensure candidates can participate in authentic field experiences that are designed with both the professional needs and the safety of future teachers and PK-12 districts in mind. Please contact your EPP with any questions you have about student teaching or other field-based aspects of your preparation program.
  • MEGA Test Centers Update: The Pearson Company, administrator of the MEGA assessments (MoCA and MoGEA) for the state of Missouri, provides DESE frequent updates regarding their testing center openings and safety protocols. Testing centers are currently operating at reduced capacity to allow for social distancing and frequent sanitizing of spaces. Please be advised that overbooking of candidates may occur in an attempt to accommodate as many test takers as possible during this time, and some registrants may find their appointments cancelled and rescheduled during the month prior to their scheduled time, according to Pearson’s current protocols. Pearson maintains updated information about MEGA testing here.
  • Contact:​
    Educator Preparation  |  eqprep@dese.mo.gov  |  573-751-1668​
    Educator Certification  |  certification@dese.mo.gov | 573-751-0051

Event Updates and Cancellations
  • FBLA-PBL: Missouri FBLA-PBL has cancelled the Show Me Leadership Conferences (SMLCs), set to be held on October 3, 10, and 17 in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Branson, respectively.  An alternate program, the Blast Off Box (BOB) will be made available in place of SMLCs for 2020.  More information on the Blast Off Box will be made available to chapters on August 28.
#HealthyatSchool Toolkit

The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is providing a toolkit for local education agencies, state organizations and the general public to access social media and other shareable content for the #HealthyatSchool "Sick? Stay Home!" campaign. Please visit the #HealthyatSchool toolkit for more specific information.

LEA Deadlines
  • June Cycle MOSIS and Core Data Reporting During COVID-19: The June Cycle is now available for reporting in MOSIS and Core Data. DESE continues to receive many questions about the reporting of the June Cycle data and the impact COVID-19. The Office of Data System Management has created this document to address many of the questions DESE has received. This document will be updated as additional information becomes available. 
  • Extended Learning Deadline Extensions: The following deadline extensions pertain to afterschool grantees for both 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) and School Age Community (SAC) grants:
  • SAC Final Program Report form deadline extended to August 30 (even if grant extension approved through September 15).
  • SAC grants can be extended through September 15, 2020 with prior approval. In such cases, Final Expenditure Reports would be due no later than September 30, 2020.
  • 21st CCLC grants can be extended through June 30, 2021 with prior approval. In such cases, Final Expenditure Reports would be due no later than July 15, 2021.

Programs seeking more information on these extended deadlines should contact DESE’s Extended Learning Section at exl@dese.mo.gov or 573-522-2627.

Mental Health/Counselor Information
Missouri Resident Information
  • Missouri Services Navigator: Missourians in need during COVID-19 can find information about essential services available through the online Missouri Services Navigator system. This resource offers instant access to available programs and services such as school meal programs for students, food banks, child care, diaper banks, counseling and organizations that assist with housing, transportation or utilities issues. There are currently over 2,000 services listed, with new services added daily. Users can search by keyword, location and/or service. Every program and service contains a map of the location as well as contact information.
  • #Essential4Kids – Kids Need Schools to Continue Reporting Abuse During COVID-19: In times of crisis and economic insecurity, rates of child abuse and neglect increase. However, reports to Missouri’s child abuse and neglect hotline have declined dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students not being in school creates barriers to reporting abuse. New resources from Missouri KidsFirst empower teachers, counselors, bus drivers, nutrition staff and other school professionals in their role as mandated reporters, as they work with children virtually and in non-traditional ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. The #Essential4Kids resources (including a flyer and video) provide a quick refresher on the signs of child abuse and neglect and how to fulfill your responsibility as a mandated reporter during this extraordinary time. 
  • Broadband Providers Respond to COVID-19: Broadband access is more important than ever, as Missourians have been instructed to stay home from work and school as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Accessibility is critical to meet our needs for education as well as telemedicine, telecommuting and overall quality of life. In response to this, several broadband providers are temporarily offering free internet service, waiving disconnect and late fees, providing access to Wi-Fi hot spots, and other measures to help people at home access the services they need. Click here to learn more on the DHSS website.
  • Protecting Students’ Civil Rights During COVID-19 Response: The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S. Department of Education released a webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition, OCR published a fact sheet for education leaders on how to protect students’ civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. These resources will assist education leaders in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities and in preventing discrimination during this Administration-wide response effort. See the full release
Parents as Teachers & First Steps Programs
Re-Entry Guidance for Schools

Decisions to open Missouri schools, along with the methods/patterns of instruction being used during the 2020-21 school year, are made by local school leaders and local boards of education. There are currently no statewide health mandates related to K-12 schools.

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) and DESE have released a document that answers frequently asked questions (FAQs) about K-12 school reopening health-related guidance. The original document, posted on July 9, has been updated to include further details regarding both proactive and reactive strategies that Missouri’s K-12 schools can utilize to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and best protect their students, staff members and communities. There are no statewide health mandates related to K-12 school reopening being issued at this time, and it is important to note that local school boards and local jurisdictions have the authority to implement more stringent or less restrictive preventative measures than those listed in this document. Also, please note this is a living document, and edits or updates will be made as necessary.

  • October 1: DESE and DHSS hosted a COVID-19 update for K-12 schools, discussing contact tracing, the student COVID-19 case dashboard and other timely information. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • September 9: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar for school leaders, school nurses and LPHAs to share clarifying information from the state level and address new questions from the field. The slides from the webinar can be viewed here.
  • August 13: DESE and DHSS have posted two additional documents regarding contact tracing:
  • August 7: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar so school leaders, school nurses and local public health officials could learn more about the algorithm being used in the St. Louis area to address Protocol for Schools Assisting the Health Department in Close Contact Identification for COVID-19 Cases. View the webinar recording.
    • Here are the links to the additional algorithms developed by the Washington University Pediatric and Adolescent Ambulatory Research Consortium, which can also be found in the recently updated DHSS/DESE School Reopening FAQ document:
      • School Nurse Algorithm: shows flow chart for decision-making on screening students for COVID-19 symptoms
      • Clinician Algorithms: shows flow charts for healthcare professionals assessing for COVID-19 in children with symptoms both with and without known exposure
  • Missouri Hospital Association Partners with DESE on Special Projects: The Missouri Hospital Association, in partnership with DESE and other organizations, has developed two promotional pieces for schools to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure in the classroom.
    • A Tips for Teachers document provides not only simple preventative measures educators can implement, but also helpful information about how to safely put on and remove personal protective equipment, including face coverings. School leaders are encouraged to share this graphic with their staff.
    • Evade! Destroy! Defend! The "Be a Hero and MASK UP!" campaign reminds students that they can be superheroes and use their own powers to vanquish COVID-19 in their schools and communities. Information is available in both English and Spanish, and while posters have been sent to schools statewide, additional printable information can be found here.
  • Webinar: DESE and DHSS hosted another School Reopening Webinar on August 3 to discuss the new information added to the guidance FAQ document. Follow these links to view the webinar recording (advance to 18:20 on the recording) and the PowerPoint slides.
  • June 16: DESE and DHSS hosted a webinar to discuss school reopening guidance with school leaders and local health officials. Click here to view the recording. Please note that Commissioner Vandeven goes into detail about DESE-specific topics, including attendance reporting and funding, near the 47:00 mark in the video. The question and answer segment begins at 54:30. You can view the slide deck from the webinar here.

    During the presentation, a representative from the Department of Economic Development discussed how schools can access the State of Missouri’s PPE Marketplace. Click here to review that information again. You can then access the PPE Marketplace here. Click here to access the DHSS COVID-19 dashboard (scroll down and select the button in the middle of the page). You can continue to visit that site to view your county’s up-to-date health information.

  • May 22 / CDC Guidance: The CDC released the following guidance documents and tools to assist school leaders in making reopening decisions for K-12 schools:
  • May 12: The Missouri School Boards’ Association has published the “Pandemic Recovery Consideration: Re-Entry and Reopening of Schools” document for school leaders to review and consider when developing their local plans for returning to onsite teaching and learning.
  • May 6: The American Academy of Pediatrics released this guidance for schools on returning to in-person education.​​
  • DESE continues to urge school leaders to discuss reentry strategies with local health officials to determine the most appropriate actions to meet the unique needs and circumstances of your community.
Remote Teaching/Learning Resources & Alternate Educational Opportunities
  • August 20 MOCAP Webinar: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in virtual education options for students. In this webinar, DESE provided information on the Missouri Online Course Access and Virtual School Program (MOCAP), including requirements for school districts and charter schools.
  • Missouri Connections Adds Virtual Tours / Career Trek Information: Click here to learn more about a pair of exciting opportunities! Take a virtual campus tour of 2- and 4-year schools across the nation. Visit MissouriConnections.org, choose the school you want to tour, then select the video button on the school’s profile page. In addition, elementary students can get at-home access to Career Trek, a program designed especially for younger ages that introduces key, evidence-based career development concepts! For more information, email Chrissy.Bashore@dese.mo.gov
  • Supports for Remote Teaching and Learning: Staff in DESE’s Office of College and Career Readiness ​compiled helpful teaching and learning resources for Missouri educators, students and parents who are operating remotely due to COVID-19. Information is broken down by subject area, and includes online, offline and hybrid options. An additional page of information has been created for Career & Technical Education content areas as well. Resources will continue to be added.
  • MOCAP Virtual Education Resources: It is important to emphasize that schools may have options for alternate educational opportunities. Schools may wish to implement virtual learning through a new or expanded contract with a vendor. See more information and guidance here on the MOCAP website.​
  • Using Federal Funds for Technology Equipment: Computers, tablets, modems, hotspots, etc. are allowable expenses under Title IV. A. and Title V. Title IV.A. allows for the purchase of technology for either “Access to a Well-Rounded Education” or “Individual Learning using Technology.” Title V (Rural and Low-Income Schools) allow for technology purchases. Budgets must be amended prior to obligation of funds. Purchasing equipment, such as connections in/to a child’s home that would ultimately be owned by a private citizen, is not an allowable expense.
Resources for Non-Public Schools
Special Education Information & Guidance

Early Childhood Special Education opportunities are of great value to children and their families. Attending a high-quality preschool program that is in a public school, or is community-based, provides children with rich experiences that support on-going success in school. Given these unusual times, early childhood experiences, especially for our most vulnerable populations (e.g., children with disabilities, English language learners), can help close opportunity and achievement gaps that have been persistent in Missouri. During COVID-19, guidance is being issued in response to changing circumstances and information. The ECSE COVID-19 Resource Table is designed to provide resources for early childhood special educators and parents to access as enhancements to learning. Please note that many community-based childcare programs continue to serve children safely through the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

After receiving many questions from constituents, the DESE Office of Special Education developed a COVID-19 question and answer guide. The compliance team utilized information from a variety of resources, including guidance documents posted by other states and national organizations as well as questions received from Missouri educators serving special education students. State and local education agencies are testing these uncharted waters together. Our challenge is to think about the intent and purpose behind the procedural requirements for each step of the special education process, and then lead teams as they reflect on how they can fulfill that same purpose and intent in an alternate way, in light of our current circumstances. We must do the best we can to stay true to the intent of IDEA.  Please remember to review the daily LRP site for new information. View the DESE Special Education Compliance COVID-19 Question and Answer Guide.


Statutory Waivers

The Governor issued one statutory and regulatory waiver in Executive Order 20-04 and DESE issued two Administrative Memos to announce a number of statutory waivers approved by Governor Parson, all due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To review that information, see EO 20-04 issued on March 13, Administrative Memo COM-20-002 released on April 3, and Administrative Memo COM-20-004 released on June 25.

A number of those waivers are now terminated, while a few still remain in effect through the State of Emergency, which now ends December 31, 2020.

One statutory waiver (by EO 20-04) was terminated June 15, 2020, by EO 20-12:

  • Teacher certification with regard to qualify scores on exit examinations and culminating clinical experience – Section 161.210, RSMo, 5 CSR 20-400.330, 500-560, 590-610, and 640.

The following statutory waivers were terminated on June 30:

  • CPR and Heimlich Maneuver Training – Section 170.310.1, RSMo
  • Missouri and U.S. Constitutions – Section 170.011.3, RSMo Missouri Civics Education Initiative – Sections 170.345.2 and 170.345.3, RSMo
  • Reading Assessments – Section 167.645.2, RSMo End of Year Dyslexia Testing – Section 167.950.1(2) RSMo
  • Physical Fitness Assessments and Awards – Sections 161.450.2 and 167.720, RSMo
  • Certificated Teachers – Contract Notification for Re-Employment by April 15 – Section 168.101.3, RSMo
  • Notification Timeline Extensions (Indefinite Teacher Contracts) – Section 168.110, RSMo
  • Notification Timeline Extensions (Probationary Teachers) – Section 168.126.2 and .3, RSMo
  • Notification Timeline Extensions (Probationary Teacher – Metropolitan School Districts) – Section 168.221.1, RSMo
  • Use of Professional Development Funds – Section 160.530, RSMo

The following statutory waivers remain in effect:

  • Hearings for Unaccredited or Provisionally Accredited Districts – Section 162.081.2, RSMo (Aug. 31, 2020)
  • Transfers to and from the Incidental Fund – Section 165.011, RSMo (Dec. 31, 2020)
  • Use of School Buses – Section 163.161.1, RSMo (Dec. 31, 2020)
  • Hold Harmless Districts Exempt from Withholdings –Section 163.031.7, RSMo
Sunshine Law Guidance during Emergency
Task Force for Learning Acceleration

The United States has never faced a disruption of schooling like it has experienced during the COVID-19 crisis. Therefore, there is no template for recovery that we might use to guide our decisions about returning to school.  To address this situation, DESE has organized a Task Force for Learning Acceleration with a charge to provide strategic guidance and vision to help schools plan for re-entry in the fall. DESE is facilitating a collaborative platform for idea sharing, a safe place for brainstorming and the development of innovative solutions that can be shared across the state.The volunteers serving on the Task Force are a diverse group of people from all around the state who serve in different roles and positions and represent different points of view. They are organized into the three workgroups, listed below.

  • Assessment of Learning Loss: This group will provide recommendations for assessing learning loss as a result of the extended school closures in spring 2020. Topics will include measuring instructional progress, variances in local pacing, systemic sources of data and formative assessment tools.
  • Acceleration of Learning: This group will provide recommendations for accelerating learning with a focus on the 2020-21 school year. Lessons learned and evidence-based strategies for learning acceleration, such as the identification of the most important learning standards that are prerequisites for future learning and the use of available assessment data will be discussed.
  • Reaching all Students: This group will provide recommendations for reaching all students with strategies to accelerate learning. This will include discussions of equity, meeting the needs of Missouri’s most vulnerable, economically challenged students, students in the primary grades and responses to the social-emotional needs of students and educators.

The Task Force for Learning Acceleration will make its recommendations this summer, in time for schools to incorporate the ideas for the start of the 2020-21 school year. Click here for more information.

Vocational Rehabilitation & Disability Determinations