April 2, 2020
Website for All Updates
The Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) continues to update our COVID-19 webpage daily with new details related to COVID-19 and DESE and/or public school operations. Click to expand each of the topics/sections listed for more specific information.
Webinar for School Leaders
Yesterday, Commissioner Margie Vandeven and the DESE leadership team hosted a webinar for school leaders across the state. The PowerPoint from that webinar as well as the follow-up email sent to school administrators are now available on our COVID-19 website. The email includes important updates about: school closures, the CARES Act, special education compliance Q&A, Bright Flight, DESE’s technology/internet access survey and childcare needs across the state.
COVID-19: Fake Letter on Social Media
A fake letter is circulating on social media, saying DESE will not allow students to move on to the next grade level for the 2020-21 school year because COVID-19 caused school closures and statewide required assessments to be cancelled. That is simply not true. We could not be more disappointed that someone chose to use their free time to create this document, illegally using our department logo, and make a joke about something as serious as our students' education. This is particularly insensitive given the anxiety and uncertainty so many students and families are dealing with right now.
Assessments & Graduation Requirements
DESE officials have examined the impact of cancelling spring 2020 testing, specifically on local education agencies and 2020 graduating seniors. Read the new guidance and information here.
Remote Teaching & Learning Resources
Last week, 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 (CTE) content areas as well. Resources will continue to be added.
DESE's School Counseling section has also provided virtual social-emotional learning resources and links for students and families. The document provides information from national partners for online and offline use.
New A+ Information
Due to school closures, the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD) has temporarily reduced or suspended certain A+ Scholarship eligibility requirements. Communication to Missouri high schools and college financial aid officers was sent March 19, outlining the temporary changes to the program for 2020 high school seniors and college students hoping to renew the scholarship for 2020-21. Additional guidance regarding the Algebra I End-of-Course exam and pass/fail GPAs was sent to schools on March 27.
Bright Flight Scholarship
The Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (DHEWD) has issued guidance regarding Bright Flight Scholarship requirements for ACT or SAT scores. The following is quoted from DHEWD: “In response to the adjustments made by ACT and the College Board, DHEWD is extending the date on which 2020 seniors may achieve a qualifying ACT score for the Bright Flight Scholarship to the July national test date. The 2020 seniors who achieve a qualifying ACT score on the July national test date and who are otherwise eligible can receive the scholarship. Scores achieved on the July 2020 national test date will also be considered when determining eligibility for this year’s sophomores and juniors, as has always been the case. Accommodations for the 2020 seniors taking the SAT will be announced as information becomes available from the College Board.” The complete statement from DHEWD regarding Bright Flight Scholarship and ACT or SAT scores can be found here.
Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT)
For households with children who attend a school that’s closed and who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals, an application is being developed to provide a meal-replacement benefit through SNAP under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act of 2020. This new P-EBT provision can compensate families for the cost of the meals their children are missing out on because their schools are closed. USDA is providing guidance to state agencies on plan requirements in order to receive approval. DESE will share information and application details as soon as they are available. Read more from USDA about the P-EBT here.
Please note that DESE Food & Nutrition Services has worked with the Department of Social Services (DSS) to update the DSS Family Support Division recording and the information being shared about P-EBT. This message previously instructed families to contact their local school district. The message has been revised to say the following: “This benefit is not yet available. You will be contacted to apply when applications are available.”
Schools Assist with PPE during COVID-19
DESE has been approached by several health-related organizations to identify areas where district/school students and/or staff members may be able to offer support during the COVID 19 emergency, specifically providing or creating PPE for Missouri health care professionals and first responders. School superintendents are asked to submit information via our online form here by 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 7 if their district/school is interested in helping this important cause.
COVID-19 Cyber Security
The Cyber Mission Center (CYMC) believes cyber actors likely will exploit the spread of COVID-19 to target victims with COVID-19-themed spear-phishing emails. Cyber actors have been doing this since at least February 2020, targeting foreign victims with COVID-19-themed emails intended to appear to be from legitimate government sources, including U.S. government entities such as the CDC and the Department of State. Because more Americans during this pandemic will likely seek COVID-19 information from U.S. government sources, they will be more apt to open messages appearing to be from government entities.
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