Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
DESE-Related Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information
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. 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.
NEW: DESE, in consultation with the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS), has several important updates and new guidance to share following Governor Parson’s Saturday, March 21 announcement (see the press release here):
- Per DHSS, schools shall not resume classes before Monday, April 6, unless extended by further order of DHSS. Schools that want to extend their closure past April 6 have the option to do so.
- Schools are encouraged to continue to prepare and serve food as they have been doing during the closure.
- Schools may continue to provide childcare when/if possible.
- DESE urges school officials to ensure social distancing protocol is being utilized when staff members are reporting to work. Leaders should evaluate which duties being performed are critical (making copies of educational materials to mail/deliver to students, providing childcare, etc.), and then explore how those tasks could be performed remotely or virtually.
Please note the following documents for critical information from the Department:
- NEW: Administrative Memo: FAS-20-002, sent to public school leaders on Fri., March 27
- FAQ from DESE’s COVID-19 Webinar
- Administrative Memo COM-20-001, sent to public school leaders after a webinar on Fri., March 13.
As of Thursday, March 19, all 555 Missouri school districts / charter schools reported closures. The full list – as reported to DESE – can be viewed on the interactive map below, which will continue to update as schools share new information. Users may hover over their district/charter or search and click the district/charter in the list below to highlight it on the map.
Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Website and Hotline: DHSS's COVID-19 webpage contains any and all COVID-19-related information for Missourians, and is updated frequently. DESE officials remain in close communication with colleagues at DHSS to stay informed about COVID-19 and the current situation in Missouri. DHSS has activated a statewide public hotline - 877-435-8411 - for citizens or providers needing guidance regarding COVID-19. It is operated by medical professionals and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
DHSS has made COVID-19 fact sheets available in multiple languages.
- The State Board of Education meeting that was to be held on April 6-7 has been cancelled.
- ACT and SAT Delayed and Cancelled: Both ACT and the College Board (SAT and AP) announced delays or cancellations for their spring testing.
- Capitol Tours/Visits & Other DNR/State Parks Events Cancelled: Out of caution, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has announced all events and programs hosted/sponsored by DNR and Missouri State Parks are postponed or cancelled through April 30. This includes guided school group visits and tours at the Missouri State Capitol and other state park facilities. DNR has made this difficult decision in an effort to avoid large congregations of people in confined areas. Missouri State Parks visitor centers, campgrounds and lodging will remain open as DNR closely monitors COVID-19 and its presence in our state. The Earth Day celebration has also been cancelled.
- FBLA State Leadership Conference held virtually: The 2020 Missouri FBLA State Leadership Conference, scheduled for April 19-21 in Springfield, has been shifted to a virtual format, allowing students to compete remotely. Details will be made available on the Missouri FBLA-PBL website as quickly as possible, with additional information being sent directly to chapter advisers and posted to social media.
- Missouri Middle Level FBLA Update: The 2020 Missouri Middle Level FBLA State Leadership Conference, scheduled for Tuesday, March 31 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Columbia, has been shifted to a virtual format, allowing students to compete remotely. Details will be made available on the Missouri FBLA-PBL website as quickly as possible, with additional information being sent directly to chapter advisers and posted to social media.
- DECA Announces Multiple Cancellations: Under the proclamation of a state of emergency in Kansas City, events scheduled in Kansas City with more than 1,000 attendees are cancelled. That means DECA’s State Career Development Conference (SCDC) will not take place in Kansas City. Instead, DECA will use a virtual platform to determine our state winners. Details pertaining to testing and written event projects will be emailed to chapter advisors and posted on the Missouri DECA website.
In addition, due to the increasing numbers of school closures around the state and the cancellation of ICDC, Missouri DECA is cancelling its planned virtual SCDC. MO DECA is also cancelling the Excellence in Marketing Education reception at the Governor’s Mansion on May 14. State officer elections have been postponed. Please remain connected with DECA’s social media channels (and this webpage) for more updates as they emerge.
- FCCLA State Conference Postponed: In light of the issues and concerns surrounding COVID-19, DESE has made the decision to postpone the FCCLA 2020 state conference and all of its associated events. While a variety of factors influenced this decision, the health and safety of students and stakeholders was the primary concern. FCCLA staff members are working with Tan-Tar-A Conference Center and other entities that are critical to hosting a successful conference to identify possible dates for rescheduling the event. We apologize for the disruption this decision will cause to school schedules and travel plans. Please know that the decision was not made lightly, and that it was made with the best interest of FCCLA members in mind.
- FFA Event Updates: The State FFA Convention scheduled for April 23 and 24 is being postponed. Ag Ed staff members are working on a contingency plan for the State Convention program, State Leadership Development and State Career Development events. Ag Ed leaders recommend local Ag Ed teachers reconsider holding all area and district FFA events involving significant numbers of students.
- HOSA Conference Update: Due to the Missouri University of Science and Technology cancelling all university-sponsored events involving more than 50 people scheduled to take place March 13 through April 30, 2020, the face-to-face Missouri HOSA State Leadership Conference was cancelled. Missouri HOSA is now utilizing a virtual platform to determine state winners. Details pertaining to testing and other event projects have been emailed to Local Chapter Advisors and posted on the Missouri HOSA Website. This virtual platform will allow all registered student members to compete from home.
- Parents as Teachers: In an effort to provide schools with the flexibility to continue the delivery of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) personal visits in a safe and healthy manner, we are providing a guidance for programs who may want to explore conducting visits virtually. That information, plus other schedule updates, can be found via the following document .
- Phi Beta Lambda Conference Update: The 2020 Missouri Phi Beta Lambda State Leadership Conference, scheduled for Saturday, April 18 at Ozarks Technical College, has been shifted to a virtual format, allowing students to compete remotely. Details will be made available on the Missouri FBLA-PBL website as quickly as possible, with additional information being sent directly to chapter advisers and posted to social media.
- Power Up 2020 Cancelled: Missouri Assistive Technology’s 2020 Power Up Conference, scheduled for March 30 and 31 in Columbia, is cancelled.
- SkillsUSA Event Updates: DESE and SkillsUSA Missouri officials made the difficult decision to cancel the SkillsUSA 2020 State Office Candidate Professional Development Conference scheduled for Saturday, March 21. While a variety of factors influenced this decision, be assured that the health and safety of our students and stakeholders is always our primary concern. In addition, the SkillsUSA Missouri's 2020 State Leadership & Skills Conference and all of its associated events has been postponed. While our current decision is to postpone, please be aware that this could change to a full cancellation as new information develops. Attendees should cancel hotel room reservations immediately.
- Social Studies Events Cancelled: DESE's Citizenship Luncheon on April 14 and the Holocaust Commemoration event on April 30 have been cancelled.
- TSA Conference Update: The Missouri University of Science and Technology has canceled all university-sponsored events involving more than 50 people scheduled to take place March 13 through April 30, 2020. This means that the Missouri TSA 2020 State Championships Conference, scheduled at Missouri S&T on March 29-31, will not take place as previously planned. As a result, Missouri TSA will move all our events to digital submission this year with some modification to events to allow for such submissions. Details pertaining to testing and other event projects submissions will be emailed to Local Chapter Advisors and posted on the Missouri TSA Website (www.motsaweb.org). Please remain connected with Missouri TSA’s social media channels and TSA Local Chapter Advisors for more updates as they emerge.
March 23: Federal Assessment Waiver Information
Due to school closures as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) submitted a request to the U.S. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (USED) to waive certain requirements in section 1111 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended related to assessment and accountability requirements.
This waiver will allow Missouri to:
- Waive assessments required under the Every Students Succeeds Act (Missouri will also waive the state required social studies assessment).
- Waive the identification of comprehensive and targeted schools.
- Waive the requirements to report ESSA required items on the State, local education agency (LEA) or building report cards.
On March 20, DESE received permission from the USED to implement the waiver while they process the formal approval. As a condition of formal approval, DESE will provide the public and all LEAs in the state the opportunity to comment on this request. To comment on this waiver request, please email DESE.ESSA@dese.mo.gov before 5:00 p.m. on Monday, April 6.
On March 19, Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven shared: “There is a time and a place for statewide required assessments and now is not the time. Effective immediately, Missouri will be cancelling statewide required assessments for this school year,” said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. "There will be details that need to be worked out for graduating A+ seniors who may still need to take an assessment. Information on the federal assessment waiver should come soon and we will apply. We will share information and updates as soon as they become available." See Commissioner Vandeven's full video here (via Facebook).
- March 27: Administrative Memo FAS-20-002 - Attendance Reporting, Calendar and PDC Spending
- March 19: Local education agencies (LEAs) will not be required to make up SY 2019-20 calendar hours lost due to COVID-19 and missed calendar hours will not impact the calculation of average daily attendance. To streamline this process, DESE will soon send LEAs an online form to collect the necessary waiver information. We recognize the importance of ensuring that our schools are paid and that educational opportunities continue to be provided for our students throughout this time of social distancing. Districts and charters should make attendance decisions based on the safety and well-being of their students and staff, without concern that the low attendance numbers will negatively impact payment. Further guidance regarding school finance issues will be included in a separate memo from the Division of Financial and Administrative services early next week.
- Coding COVID-19-Related Absences: Any student absence related to COVID-19 would be coded/entered like any other student absence related to illness.
- Food and Nutrition Services Disaster information page
- New: COVID Questions & Answers Regarding Meal Service
- Emergency Use of School Buses: DESE has received questions regarding the emergency use of school buses in current COVID-19 situation, specifically using school buses to deliver food to students and or equipping school buses with Wi-Fi to provide internet services to students near their homes. This is allowable. This allowance would fall under the district’s emergency preparedness plan as provided for in 160.480, RSMo. For district reporting purposes, the cost will be reported as allowable transportation cost and the miles reported as ineligible, non-route miles.
- DESE Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) office recently applied for two waivers from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) FNS. The waivers aim to support schools and communities in providing meals to children in areas experiencing school closures in response to COVID-19. Those waivers were approved Sunday, March 15. Administrative Memo FAS-20-001 issued on March 16 addresses these waivers.
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DESE have received questions from Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) officials asking how their programs and operations could be impacted as a result of Coronavirus (COVID-19). At this time, continue normal program operations. If a public health emergency happens in your community, such as an outbreak of COVID-19, USDA Foods currently in your local inventory can be used as an emergency feeding source for your community without prior approval or permission from DESE Food and Nutrition Services. Information about that decision-making can be reviewed on the USDA Foods During Disaster fact sheet here. Within 45 days of an emergency feeding, local FNS officials will submit to DESE FNS via email the total amount of products that need to be replaced. DESE FNS officials will then work with local SFAs to gather additional information needed, such as the disaster rate, total number of persons receiving USDA Foods, the period those foods were issued, etc. The USDA Foods used will be replaced with another like product or, in some cases, credit entitlement for the value of the food used. The USDA Food Program Disaster Manual here provides FNS officials key information about this process. DESE encourages FNS officials to review this information as a precautionary measure, specifically: page 21 (School Food Authority Disaster Preparation information), page 32 (Procedures for the Replacement and Reporting of USDA Foods), and page 73 (Disaster preparation recommendations). See full memo.
- 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.
- The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has heard from school leaders and families across the state about technology and internet access needs during COVID-19 school closures. DESE has asked school leaders to provide specific details on this important topic and will use this information to better inform decisions and guidance at the state level.
- DESE Response to School Closure/AMI Questions: The public attention surrounding COVID-19 has led to several questions about what will happen if a school must close for an extended period of time. While COVID-19 is the current focus, it is important to remember that this is not the first time that illness, natural disaster or other events have affected school operations. DESE has historically worked with districts when exceptional circumstances cause school closures. As with any situation where a possible closure can be anticipated, districts are encouraged to consider what alternative plans can be developed and implemented to support student learning in the absence of standard instructional practices. While the Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) statute does not take effect until the 2020-21 school year, the guidance DESE issued with the AMI application can assist schools in planning for both general and special education.
- 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.
- COVID-19 Related Continuity of Instruction and IEP Implementation Plan: The Office of Special Education, with assistance from the Washington Department of Education, has developed a model form to provide LEAs with one place to document information that impacts the provision of FAPE for students with disabilities.
FERPA and Virtual Learning Webinar
- Event materials, including the webinar recording, will be available here
- FERPA & COVID-19 FAQs
- FERPA & Virtual Learning
- NEW: Supplemental Fact Sheet from OSEP/OCR Addressing Serving Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 School Closures
- Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak
- Fact Sheet for Protecting Students' Civil Rights During COVID-19 Response
- First Steps Updates: The following letter was sent to all providers, SPOE agencies and their staff on Tuesday, March 17, explaining the suspension of face to face meetings and services.
- March 23: 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.
- Department of Mental Health Information: The Missouri Department of Mental Health Disaster Services has articles and resources for managing the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19.
- American School Counselor Association COVID-19 Information: American School Counselor Association (ASCA) has provided resources and lesson plans for school counselors related to COVID-19 as well as information for virtual/distance school counseling during an emergency shutdown.
- April Elections are delayed: The Governor has used his emergency authority to delay the April 7 elections until June 2. Guidance and information from the Missouri School Boards' Association
- COVID-19 Cyber Scams: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warns individuals to remain vigiant for scams related to COVID-19. Cyber actors may send emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites to trick victims into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes. Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts or calls related to COVID-19.
- 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
- Updated Guidance for Large Gatherings: On March 15, the CDC issued updated guidance for mass gatherings and large events. The guidance reads, “CDC, in accordance with its guidance for large events and mass gatherings, recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.” It notes that this recommendation does not apply to the day to day operation of organizations such as schools and does not supersede advice from local health officials.
- On March 16, the White House issued the President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America - 15 Days to Slow the Spread. It encourages individuals to avoid social gatherings in groups of more than 10 people and included the following guidance related to schools: School operations can accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. Governors of states with evidence of community transmission should close schools in affected and surrounding areas. Governors should close schools in communities that are near areas of community transmission, even if those areas are in neighboring states. In addition, state and local officials should close schools where coronavirus has been identified in the population associated with the school. States and localities that close schools need to address childcare needs of critical responders, as well as the nutritional needs of children.
- CDC Issues Updated COVID-19 Guidance for Schools: Health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking steps to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in the United States. Schools can play an important role in this effort. Through collaboration and coordination with local health departments, schools can take steps to disseminate information about the disease and its potential transmission within their school community. Information provided in the guidance at the link below should help schools understand how to help prevent the transmission of COVID-19 within their school communities and facilities. The guidance also aims to help schools react quickly should a case be identified. The guidance includes considerations to help administrators plan for the continuity of teaching and learning if there is community spread of COVID-19. Read the CDC guidance information here.
- CDC Handwashing Guidance: With concerns in the media and among our citizens gaining more attention, it is very important to stress that the most effective method for preventing the spread of virus is simply using good hygiene, especially effective, thorough handwashing. Please take two minutes to watch this CDC video which answers important questions about handwashing and hand sanitizer.
- CDC Travel Guidance: In an effort to continue providing safe learning environments, and assist in the effort to slow the exposure to and/or the spread of COVID-19, LEAs may choose to follow the CDC Travel Guidance here for people returning from a country under a travel advisory, which currently includes China, Italy, South Korea, Iran and Japan, and ask students/staff to stay home from school for 14 calendar days upon their return to the United States. Please note that the CDC’s list of travel advisories may change rapidly; follow the link above to stay informed about those advisory updates.
- Governor Parson Waives Remainder of On-Site Activities: In consideration of the challenges educator preparation programs (EPP) are facing with respect to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Governor Parson has waived the requirements of remaining on-site classroom and school visits for candidates already participating in culminating clinical experiences and internships in the current academic term. Please see the official DESE memo, which includes a link to Governor Parson's Executive Order, here.
- MEGA Test Centers and Policies: DESE has received notice from the Pearson Company, administrator of the MEGA assessments (MoCA and MoGEA) for the state of Missouri, regarding testing centers and policies. Based on precautions associated with COVID-19, Pearson has made the decision to close testing centers through April 16. Cancellation notifications are being sent out to registrants. As of the time of this communication, Pearson had posted clarification of their policies here. Candidates enrolled in Missouri educator preparation programs who have been unable to complete the Missouri Content Assessment required for initial educator certification due to closed testing centers may be issued a two-year Provisional Certificate if they have been offered a contracted educator position in a Missouri public, charter or accredited private school for the 2020-21 school year. The candidate’s application for a provisional certificate will require verification of employment by a school district and completion of a recommendation for provisional certification by the educator preparation program. The provisional certificate will provide a two-year period in which testing schedules can resume and allow candidates additional time and opportunity to complete their assessment. More information
- 2020 MEES Cut Scores: The Missouri Educator Evaluation System (MEES) for Teachers is designed to be utilized in a PK-12 teaching context, in both formative and summative capacities, to assess a teacher candidate’s development over the course of the culminating clinical experience. The current minimum required passing score for the MEES for Teachers, calculated as the sum of the University Supervisor score and Cooperating Teachers score, is 42. These scores are required for all candidates and to be verified by EPPs at the time candidates are recommended for certification. Due to the restrictions and closures of Missouri PK-12 schools in response to COVID-19 and the challenges this has created, DESE is suspending the use of a passing score for the performance assessment for candidates participating in culminating clinical experiences in the current academic term. EPPs may submit a candidate’s formative scores and/or assess performance based on artifacts as an alternative. DESE asks EPPs to make use of alternative activities during the culminating clinical experience to continue to support candidates’ growth and classroom readiness.
- 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.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: Due to COVID-19, VR is suspending in-person services to the public starting 3/18/2020 to protect the population we serve and our employees. VR is still working to answer your questions or concerns. Contact your local office by phone or email for assistance. Please be aware that we are receiving a large volume of calls at this time. If you are unable to reach us, we ask that you leave a message. Your call will be returned as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
Disability Determination Services: Due to COVID-19, DDS is suspending in-person services to the public starting 3/18/2020 to protect the population we serve and our employees. DDS is still working to answer your questions or concerns. Contact your local office by phone for assistance. Please be aware that we are receiving a large volume of calls at this time. If you are unable to reach us, we ask that you leave a message. Your call will be returned as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding.
Missouri’s DESE State-Operated Schools have made the decision to close to safeguard the health and wellness of our students and staff members. Here is the specific closure information for those locations:
- Missouri Schools for the Severely Disabled (MSSD): Closed since Wednesday, March 18. Tentatively plan to resume school on April 6. MSSD also revised their spring break plans. At this time, students will now attend school on April 8, 9 and 10. If there are any changes to these dates, MSSD will communicate those updates ASAP to families.
- Missouri School for the Blind (MSB): Closed since Wednesday, March 18. The closure end-date is currently TBD.
- Missouri School for the Deaf (MSD): Closed since Thursday, March 19. The students will return for classes the first, full week of April – residential students on Sunday, April 5, and day students on Monday, April 6. This extended closure includes Spring Break, March 23 to March 27. The closure of MSD for students might be extended again due to the circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic. If a determination to extend the closure date is necessary, all parents will be informed.
- Missouri School Boards' Association Guidance: How to Hold an Emergency Meeting and Comply with the Sunshine Law
- Missouri Attorney General's Office Guidance: Sunshine Law Guidance for Public Governmental Bodies During a Public Health Crisis or State of Emergency
Please click here to see an important message from Governor Mike Parson and Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven about providing childcare during COVID-19 school closures.
As you are well aware, there are numerous consequences associated with extended school closures, including the need for childcare. The Governor’s Office is working with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as well as the Departments of Health and Senior Services, Public Safety, Social Services, and Corrections to identify childcare gaps that may exist for critical health care professionals and first responders in Missouri communities. We then hope to develop collaborative plans to help provide the needed childcare for these important public servants.
Note: LEAs who need assistance drafting letters or other communication to their stakeholders can email Communications@dese.mo.gov.