COVID-19 Policy Updates


October 20 - PPP Forgiveness Application Update


New Forgiveness Application 

for Smaller PPP Loans

Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, financial advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

 
New Forgivenss Application for PPP Loans $50,000 and Under
The Small Business Administration (SBA) recently released a simple loan forgiveness application for businesses whose PPP loan is $50,000 or less. Businesses that use this form will be exempt from the conditions that would have reduced the forgivable amount of the loan including:

  • reductions in FTE’s
  • reductions in employee salaries of wages.

 The following links are for documents only related to businesses whose loans are $50,000 or less:

Remember you need to apply for forgiveness within ten months after the last day of your covered period, otherwise you must begin paying principal and interest.   
 
EIDL Loans
If you held off applying for a SBA Economic Injury and Disaster Loan (EIDL) last spring until you knew more clearly what your enrollment and budget would look like come fall, it’s still possible to apply for an EIDL loan through the SBA. The purpose of the EIDL loan program is “to meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the disaster not occurred.” A summary of the EIDL loan program and loan application can be found here.



October 15 - English Learner Resources, Home Visiting FAQs, and the Ounce is Now "Start Early"


Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

Please see below for new resources and information that may be helpful.

Creating English Learner Resource Awareness During This Hispanic Heritage Month 

We are in the midst of Hispanic Heritage Month. During this month of national recognition, the Latino Policy Forum is asking all to help spread awareness for the growing number of English Learners (ELs) and new research-based recommendations for their success in this unprecedented era of COVID-19.  

The Latino Policy Forum has developed a digital toolkit to spread the word and an English Learner resource hub for educators, policymakers, and community and school-based leaders. It includes research-based resources, case studies, and policy recommendations focused on investments that will make a meaningful impact for the success of EL students.    

This month, we ask you please use this digital toolkit to share these materials and resources on your platforms and social media to ensure ELs receive the recognition and resources they deserve. Please send any questions to Rebecca Vonderlack-Navarro, Director of Education Policy & Research at rvnavarro@latinopolicyforum.org.

New Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Document for Home Visiting

MIECHV, DHS, and DFSS (City of Chicago) have released an FAQ document to address questions that funders have received from home visiting programs regarding Restore Illinois. This document will be updated periodically to incorporate new questions from the field.

Ounce of Prevention, Now “Start Early”

It is exciting to share that as of October 7, 2020 the Ounce of Prevention Fund has adopted a new name—Start Early. The new name, along with the new logo and tagline, Champions for Early Learning, focuses on the idea that starting early and nurturing the attachments between children and adults are essential to a child’s present and future well-being. While the “look” may be changing, leaders and staff remain dedicated to advancing the organizational mission and inspiring others to support the children and families served. Please visit their new website, StartEarly.org to learn more.


Jamilah R. Jor'dan, PhD

Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD



September 4 - ISBE: Update on Spring Assessments and FAQs


 

Dear Colleagues, 

I appreciate the many district and regional superintendents who joined me in virtual meetings over the past two weeks to share feedback and ask questions and the many others who have emailed with inquiries and ideas. My message today provides updated information and addresses several pressing topics that we wanted to ensure you had the answers for as soon as possible, rather than in our regular weekly message on Tuesday.  

We received a letter this afternoon from U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and wanted to share the news with you immediately. The letter explains that schools should be prepared to administer federally required assessments in spring 2021. In a letter to all Chief State School OfficersSecretary DeVos said, “it is now our expectation that states will, in the interest of students, administer summative assessments during the 2020-2021 school year, consistent with the requirements of the law and following the guidance of local health officials. As a result, you should not anticipate such waivers [that were granted for spring 2020 assessments] being granted again.” 

This federal communication means that our Illinois Priority Learning Standards become even more important. The selected standards align to our state summative assessments. They promote interdisciplinary and/or project-based learning, which can help students learn more and go deeper.  

As your school districts reopen for the school year, new issues arise. We are committed to helping you tackle each one, so I’m going to respond to a few questions here:  

We have received questions about whether it’s possible to use health/life/safety funds to respond to COVID-19, and the answer to that question is no. 

The expanded role taken on by our school bus systems has also generated questions. Way back on March 30, ISBE filed an emergency amendment to Part 120 rules that allows all transportation costs incurred between March 17, 2020, and the end of the 2019-20 school year that involved anything beyond simply transporting students to be reimbursed by the formula under Section 29-5 of the School Code. This amendment covers costs for everything from the distribution of food and student assignments to the use of vehicles to provide WiFi. On April 9, ISBE filed an emergency amendment to that rule in order to further clarify that contracts related to the provision of transportation or a transportation provider, regardless of any service that may be provided, are allowable and reimbursed.  

As you know, transportation reimbursements are based on actual expenditures; therefore, School Year 2020-21 transportation reimbursement will be based on a district's actual expenditures, which may include implementing the Part 3 Joint Guidance for Starting the 2020-21 School Year, such as conducting symptom screenings and temperature checks (or self-certification) prior to boarding a vehicle if students are being transported by the school (page 41). 

We’ve also received questions about conducting safety drills this fall, given most students are experiencing at least some remote learning. if a school district is using only remote learning, drills may be delayed until students return to in-person instruction. However, districts providing in-person instruction or a hybrid model of both in-person and remote learning must still follow the provisions of the School Safety Drill Act. According to the School Safety Drill Act, drills shall be conducted at each school building that houses school children. That means that schools must continue to meet statutory requirements for conducting safety drills, including evacuation, bus evacuation, law enforcement, and severe weather/shelter in place drills, and should implement these drills with COVID-19 safety measures in place. Multiple drills may need to occur and drills may take more time to allow for social distancing.  

Districts have also requested guidance for communicating with students, staff, and families in the event that someone in the school contracts COVID-19. First and foremost, schools must provide relevant information to their local departments of public health to support their efforts in contact tracing and mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Secondly, school authorities are to handle contacts of infectious disease according to the Control of Communicable Disease Code, which includes informing contacts of infected individuals to prevent the spread of disease. ISBE and the Illinois Department of Public Health provided a template that schools can use as well as answers to related questions in the FAQ issued on Aug. 20 (page 9).  

We continue to encourage close partnerships between school districts and local departments of public health. IDPH is publishing county metrics that include numbers of youth cases. IDPH created this metrics webpage and the adaptive pause and metrics document to guide local departments of public health in advising local school districts about when additional mitigation measures may be necessary.  

Finally, we realize that having reliable internet access is crucial for students during any form of learning. Every school should be aware that the Learning Technology Center of Illinois is available to support you through technology initiatives, services, and professional learning opportunities. Their website is www.ltcillinois.org and their phone number is (217) 893-1431. The Center is headquartered out of Regional Office of Education #9 in Champaign, but its 20 staff members are stationed around the state. A list of the staff and what they do is available at https://ltcillinois.org/about/team. 

Your questions and feedback continue to help me ensure that the agency is responsive to the immediate and long-term needs of our diverse schools across the state. Thank you to the Regional Offices of Education for setting up the virtual meetings over the past two weeks. It was a pleasure to see many of your faces and to have the opportunity to hear your candid perspectives.  

Sincerely,   

Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 

State Superintendent of Education

Illinois State Board of Education


 

August 20 - Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Nonpublic Schools


The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) has announced that free personal protective equipment is now available to nonpublic schools if they are unable to procure PPE through local channels.

Please follow the process outlined at Public and Nonpublic School Ordering Process for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to request PPE. Please note that schools should obtain supplies through normal procurement channels first, and that the PPE available from IEMA is not intended to provide supplies to sustain ongoing operations but rather to meet emergency needs that cannot be met through normal ordering channels and are necessary to start the 2020-21 school year.

Please contact COVID19@isbe.net if you have any questions.


 

August 13 - New Information from the CDC & Updated Guidance for EI & Home Visiting


COVID-19 & Other Resources

Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

Below please find updated information from the CDC that will impact program policies, as well as two additional resources to support children, families, and providers as we continue to navigate this global pandemic.

Important Update from the CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has made important updates regarding the discontinuation of isolation for persons with COVID-19 not in a healthcare setting.

Persons with COVID-19 who never develop symptoms may discontinue isolation and other precautions 10 days after the date of their first positive test.

Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset and
  • At least 24 hours have passed since resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
  • Other symptoms have improved.

More information on these changes can be found here.



For Home Visiting, Doula, & CI Programs

MIECHV & IDHS released Revised Restore Illinois Guidance for Home Visiting, Doula, and Coordinated Intake Programs (8/7/2020). This updated guidance was developed by GOECD in consultation with the major funders of home visiting and the Executive Committee of the Home Visiting Task Force.



For Early Intervention Providers 

IDHS has issued Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Early Intervention (EI) Plan for Resuming In-Person Services (8/6/2020). Questions submitted to DHS.EIQuestions@illinois.gov informed the content in the FAQs and will inform revisions to EI Guidance and additional resource development as Illinois continues to move through the phases of Restore Illinois.


Jamilah R. Jor'dan, PhD

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)


August 13 - ISBE: New IDPH FAQ


 

Good afternoon,

Today, ISBE published on its webpage a new health-based Frequently Asked Questions document from the Department of Public Health (IDPH). The agency worked closely with IDPH to ensure health-based FAQs were addressed prior to the start of school. The document does not replace the Part 3 Joint Transition Guidance. Rather, it seeks to support schools in knowing what to do if a student displays a COVID-19 related symptom or the school experiences a positive case. The FAQ also addresses many other health-related questions. As always, we recommend a close relationship with your local department of public health.

ISBE will continue working with IDPH to ensure you have the information you need to keep your school safe and healthy during this uncertain time.

 

Thank you,

Dr. Carmen I. Ayala

State Superintendent of Education

Illinois State Board of Education


 

August 10 - New information for Chicago schools


Attached is the playbook from the city with guidelines to safely reopen schools. It is accompanied by a video from the Mayor to our communities. 

Deck from CPS town halls: COVID-19 - CPS_townhall_CDPH slides.pptx



August 10 - All Hands on Deck to Save Child-Care



All Hands on Deck to Save Child-Care!

It's critical that people contact their Members of Congress this week to ensure child-care receives enough funding in the relief bill being negotiated now. The media is giving a lot of attention to unemployment insurance and the health care community, both of which are important. But it's vital that Congress also feels the pressure the child-care industry is under. Take 5 minutes to call your Members of Congress and share on social media to get others to do the same.

This toolkit assembled by a number of early childhood advocacy organizations has everything you need to know to make phone calls, tweet, and send email. Blast your own social media and get friends and family to call too. Our children are counting on us!
 

SBA Releases PPP Forgiveness FAQ document
Earlier this week the SBA released an FAQ dedicated solely to questions around the PPP loan forgiveness process. The document provides clarity and guidance about calculating forgiveness and is subdivided into four sections:

  • General loan forgiveness, which clarifies that a borrower does not need to make any payments on unforgiven amounts until the forgiveness amount is determined by the SBA. It also notes that the borrower is responsible for accrued interest on any amount not forgiven
  • Loan forgiveness payroll costs, which specifies when paid or incurred payroll costs are eligible for forgiveness and which health insurance and retirement benefits are included in payroll costs
  • Loan forgiveness non-payroll costs, which also clarifies when paid or incurred expenses in this category meet the criteria for forgiveness and provides additional information about utilities
  • Loan forgiveness reductions, which elaborates on the impact of reductions in FTE headcount or individual wages/salaries and includes examples

 Will My PPP Loan Be Automatically Forgiven?
As Congress continues to negotiate terms for a fourth Coronavirus relief package, one of the items on the table is automatic forgiveness of PPP loans under a certain threshold (with a requirement to keep documentation regarding compliance with the terms of the loan for a number of years). The Senate HEALS Act proposes that loans under $150,000 be automatically forgiven. However, Congress still has a significant amount of negotiating before them to get to legislation that can pass both the House and Senate and be signed into law, so we are uncertain whether or not this automatic forgiveness provision will remain. If you have a smaller loan, it may make sense to hold off on starting your forgiveness application.
 
Can I Still Apply for a PPP Loan?
The deadline to apply for a PPP loan is August 8th, so if you can get in touch with a lender and complete the paperwork, you can still apply.

Please note: The above information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.


July 29 - Childcare Grant Applications are Now Available and other resources


Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

Please see below for new information and resources related to COVID-19.

For All Illinoisans

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recent urgent warning to consumers and health care providers about hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. All are being advised to check the FDA webpage (which now lists 75 products to avoid) on a regular basis to stay fully informed regarding this important health issue.

For Child Care Providers

  • The Child Care Restoration Grant Applications are now available! To apply, you will need to login to the Gateways Registry and enter your Director Portal. Access the application by clicking on the Child Care Restoration Grants Application box and then click on "Apply Now" to begin your application. For help navigating through the application, view the Steps to Apply. Additional instructions for how to gain Director Portal access can be found hereApplications will be available through August 14th, 2020.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration of Children and Families (ACF), Office of Head Start (OHS) has released the Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for the Early Head Start Expansion and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership Grants. Click here for the application. Click here for the announcement. The closing date is September 21, 2020

For All Early Care & Education Providers

  • The National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations released The Leadership Team's Guide for Re-Opening Programs, which includes considerations for supporting program and school staff, children, and families; considerations for classroom environments; and considerations for promoting social emotional skills, preventing challenging behavior, and responding to children when challenging behavior occurs. 

For Early Intervention Providers


Thank you and be well,

 

Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)


July 27 - FDA Warning about the Dangers of Hand Sanitizers with Methanol


FDA Warning about the Dangers of Hand Sanitizers with Methanol

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recent urgent warning to consumers and health care providers about hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol (i.e., methyl alcohol or wood alcohol) is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. As per the FDA news update hyperlinked below, "Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. FDA's investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it becomes available."

FDA updated the original list of more than 24 hand sanitizer products to avoid, now listing 75 such products to avoid on this FDA webpage; those products can be viewed either by clicking on the "Methanol Contaminated Products List" button at the top of the webpage or by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and then by clicking on any or all eight pages listing the 75 hand sanitizer products.

As with the original list of hand sanitizer products to avoid, all 75 products are potentially toxic when absorbed through the skin.  Please see the FDA news update on hand sanitizers with methanol and the current list of hand sanitizer products to avoid for more detailed information. It is urgent that this information be sent to child care providers, parents, those who work in state child care licensing offices, child care professional development agency personnel, and others who can disseminate this information. In addition, everyone should check the linked FDA webpage on a regular basis to stay fully informed regarding this important health issue.

Consumers who have been exposed to a hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for the potential toxic effects of methanol poisoning, which can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, permanent blindness, and seizures. Although people of all ages are at risk for methanol poisoning, "young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk."



July 15 - IMPORTANT: COVID Relief for Schools


Contact Congress: COVID-19 Emergency Aid

July 14, 2020

Dear Friends of Religious and Independent Schools:


Congress is working on another package of COVID-19 relief, which is expected to include aid for K-12 education.

Please use CAPE's Legislative Action Center to let your representative and senators know that this aid package should include support for the students who are educated in America's private schools.


Thank you for your swift attention to this matter.


Private Education:  Good for Students, Good for Families, Good for America

 

Michael Schuttloffel

Executive Director

phone: 844-883-CAPE

web: www.capenet.org 



July 11 - No Small Matter Showing, CCRG Webinar Registration, & Resources for Child Care Providers


Greetings Early Childhood Community,  

We have new materials and resources to support your work with children and families.

Illinois Action for Children & COFI to Host a Free Screening of No Small Matter 

On July 15, 2020, from 5-7pm, join Illinois Action for Children for a virtual parent-led panel and a free screening of No Small Matter, a film about the importance of access to high quality child care and education. Directed by an award-winning team of filmmakers, No Small Matter is the first feature documentary to lay out the overwhelming evidence for the importance of the first five years, and to reveal how our failure to act on that evidence has resulted in an everyday crisis for American families and a slow-motion catastrophe for our country. Hear from parent advocates across the state on ways they've gotten involved in inciting change. Plus, hear about a new opportunity to become engaged in the early education system and have your voice heard at the policy making table! Watch the trailer and register for the free screening here

 

For Child Care Providers: 

Child Care Restoration Grant Technical Assistance Webinar*

Register now to join this webinar if you plan to apply for a Child Care Restoration Grant. The webinar will discuss the Restoration Grants and walk providers through how to apply online through the Gateways Registry Director Portal. It will provide information on which documents to collect and what information to have ready before you apply. Register here.   

Date: Monday, July 20, 2020

Two webinar times available: 10:00 AM or 6:30 PM

*If registration fills up, a recording of the webinar will be posted on the Child Care Restoration Grant webpage and the Gateways Facebook page. 

Seminario en Línea de Asistencia Técnica para la Restauración del Cuidado Infantil
Regístrese ahora para unirse a este seminario en línea si usted está planeando aplicar para recibir el Subsidio de Restauración para el Cuidado Infantil. En este seminario, se analizara la ayuda de Restauración y explicara a los proveedores cómo llenar la solicitud en línea a través del Portal de Director del Registro Gateways. Le proporcionara información sobre que documentos debe recopilar, y que información debe de tener lista antes de presentar la solicitud. Registrarse aquí.

Martes 21 de julio de 2020-tiempo de seminario web: 18:30 CDT

Printable Signs for Child Care Providers 

Click here for printable signs in Chinese, English, Korean, Polish, Spanish, and Tagalog for programs following the emergency rules, executive orders, and guidelines issued by the state of Illinois in adherence with the Restore Illinois Plan.


Thank you and be well,

 

Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



July 1 - New Resources for Child Care Providers & the Community Parenting Saturation Project


Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

New Webinar to Support Child Care Providers 

Erikson Institute's Policy and Leadership Department, in partnership with GOECD and DHS, has produced another webinar in the series to support the provision of child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar: How do I prepare my site for the reopening of child care? is geared towards all child care providers (family child care, center-based, and school aged). The webinar addresses how providers will need to plan for the physical setup of their child care programs in Phases 3 and 4 of Restore Illinois in the areas covered in the Restore Illinois Day Care License Guidance published on 6/24/20 by DCFS, GOECD, and DPH. All webinars in this series can be found here under, "Resources to Support Children & Their Development Under New Health & Social Distancing Requirements". 

FAQs for Reopening Child Care Now Available in Spanish & Chinese

  • FAQs: Reopening Licensed Child Care Homes (6/26/2020)
  • FAQs: Reopening Licensed Child Care Centers (6/26/2020)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Child Care Providers

IDHS, INCCRRA and the CCR&R System are providing limited cleaning and PPE supplies to child care providers across Illinois. These supplies can be ordered at no cost; however, providers will need to pay the shipping cost by credit/debit card. You must be a child care provider providing care in Illinois or preparing to reopen in Phase 3 or 4 of Restore Illinois. This opportunity is available to licensed centers, license-exempt centers, licensed home/group homes, and license-exempt homes. For more information and to access the webstore, click here

Child Care Restoration Grants

The Governor and the Illinois General Assembly have directed at least $270 million of the state's Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) Fund to support the economic health of child care providers as our economy reopens in the coming months. As part of CURE, the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) Program is specifically designed to support businesses who endure lost revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Visit the Child Care Restoration Grants web page for the most up-to-date information about the BIG Program, including Technical Assistance Webinars, application release dates, and answers to frequently asked questions.     

Requests for Proposals for the Community Parenting Saturation Project Application is Open

Illinois Action for Children (IAFC) released Requests for Proposals for the Community Parenting Saturation Project, which aims to launch an initiative in two communities (one in the city of Chicago and one outside the city of Chicago) that:

  1. Demonstrates what a saturated approach to family engagement strategies within a community would look like; and 
  2. Tests whether this approach truly leads to measurable changes in parenting beliefs and skills as well as prepares children for kindergarten. Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate a strong and compelling need for this project in their community and have an existing early childhood community collaboration.

Click here for more information and for links to the Grant Application Narrative and Grant Application. The deadline to apply for this opportunity is Friday, August 28, 2020. Completed applications must be submitted electronically to choua.vue@actforchildren.org.


Thank you and have a safe holiday weekend,


Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

Acting Executive Director

Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



July 1 - ISBE's Weekly Message - June 30, 2020


 

ISBE's Weekly Message


The Illinois State Board of Education wishes everyone a safe and happy 4th of July holiday! Please see below for important COVID-19 resources and agency updates.

COVID-19 – IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Each week, this section will contain a list of the resources and information posted to the COVID-19 webpage over the past week. Please continue to check the COVID-19 webpage on a daily basis for the newest updates and information.

  • Special Education
  • Remote Learning & Transition Considerations
  • Executive Orders
  • Executive Order 2020-44 re-issues previous Executive Orders in response to the epidemic emergency and public health emergency - June 26

    ASSESSMENT

    ISBE-PROVIDED FALL 2020 SAT WITH ESSAY FOR 12TH-GRADE STUDENTS | Students classified as Grade 12 in fall 2020 who were required to participate in the state’s final accountability assessments in spring 2020 may choose to participate in the ISBE-provided fall 2020 SAT with Essay to meet the diploma requirement and have the opportunity to receive a timely college- and scholarship-reportable score.

    Test Dates for the ISBE-Provided Fall 2020 SAT with Essay for Grade 12 Students:

    • Primary Test Date: Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020
    • Makeup Test Date: Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020
    • Accommodations Test Window: Oct. 14-27, 2020

    Please contact assessment@isbe.net with any questions.

    ... Read More

    UPCOMING WEBINAR: THE KIDS ASSESSMENT POST-COVID-19 – LOCAL PERSPECTIVES | Children beginning kindergarten this fall will have experienced varying degrees of disruption, differing access to technology, and increased levels of stress and trauma due to the COVID-19 pandemic. High-quality early childhood experiences help children build the foundational skills needed to enter school ready to learn; however, this year’s incoming kindergartners will have been away from their teachers and peers for over five months when school begins. Identifying children’s social-emotional needs and skills when they return to school will be essential.

    Please join the Ounce of Prevention Fund, ISBE, the McCormick Foundation, the Stone Foundation, and Advance Illinois for a virtual discussion exploring the benefits of KIDS for strengthening kindergarten entry this year. This webinar takes place from 10-11:30 a.m. on July 7Registration is now available.

    ... Read More

    CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

    UPCOMING WEBINAR ON FREE STEM CURRICULUM ELEMENTARY RESOURCES – JULY 7 | Educators at elementary schools and districts are invited to join ISBE staff and representatives of the International Technology and Engineering Education Association for a webinar on Integrative STEM Elementary Resources from 10:30-11:30 a.m. on July 7. ISBE wants to help more students be exposed to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and careers they may not otherwise have a chance to experience, so we are offering a pilot this year for elementary schools to receive FREE access to STEM curriculum and other STEM resources.

    Registration is now available. Contact Steve Parrott at sparrott@isbe.net for more information.

    ... Read More

    DATA REPORTING

    NEW! FY 2020 SITE-BASED EXPENDITURE REPORTING WINDOW OPENS JULY 1 | The reporting window for fiscal year 2020 Site-Based Expenditure Reporting opens on Wednesday, July 1 in IWAS. Report submissions are due by Aug. 14, 2020, with an option to edit submissions until Aug. 31, 2020. All Local Education Agencies are required to submit this annual report. Tools and resources are available, including:

    ... Read More

    EVIDENCE-BASED FUNDING

    NEW! FY 2021 EBF APPROPRIATIONS UPDATE | Governor Pritzker signed Public Act 101 – 0637 into law on June 10, 2020. This public act appropriates school funding for FY 2021. There is no new tier funding provided for FY 2021. All organizational units and specially funded units will receive their Base Funding Minimum, which is equal to their FY 2020 Evidence-Based Funding (EBF) distribution. You may view the distribution amounts on the EBF Distribution Calculation sheet.

    Contact State Funding and Forecasting with any questions you may have at (217) 782-0249.

    ... Read More

    FUNDING & DISBURSEMENTS

    STATE AND FEDERAL JUNE 30 EXPENDITURE REPORTS DUE JULY 20 | State and federal expenditure reports for the period ending June 30 are due on or before July 20. As you complete these reports, please keep in mind the following:

    • Reports must be year-to-date that reflect expenditures from the start date of the project through June 30.
    • Expenditures must be reconciled to the general ledger and align to the approved budget.
    • Any amount reported in an expenditure account (cell) not budgeted or not within the acceptable expenditure variance will not be accepted.
    • ISBE allows a variance of 10 percent or $1,000 per an object total, whichever is greater without going over the total budget

    ... Read More

    ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SERVICES

    NEW! ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT SERVICES INFORMATION RELEASED FOR EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS | A recent change in Illinois law allows non-professional academic employees at a public or private school (custodian, teacher’s aide, cafeteria worker, bus driver, security staff, clerical worker, etc.) to use their academic wages to establish unemployment benefits during the summer months and during vacation breaks and holidays this year. This change in the law is limited to March 15, 2020, through January 2, 2021.

    ... Read More

    MULTILINGUAL

    NEW! 2019-20 BILINGUAL EDUCATION PROGRAM DELIVERY REPORT DUE JULY 31 | Districts that received $5,000 or more in state EBF for English Learner services and/or federal Title III LIEP funds in FY 2020 must submit this report in IWAS by July 31. For more information, including a list of required districts to report, visit the ISBE Multilingual Data & Reports website.

    ... Read More

    NUTRITION PROGRAMS

    NEW! ADDITIONAL USDA FLEXIBILITIES/WAIVERS FOR SCHOOL YEAR 2020-21 | The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) extended four nationwide waivers for school year 2020-21, giving key flexibilities to school districts to provide meals to students with appropriate safety measures. When the new school year begins, school districts will return to participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), School Breakfast Program (SBP), and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) with the following initial flexibilities. ISBE will continue to work with USDA for any additional flexibilities needed to provide meals to students.

    ISBE Nutrition Department staff is available to assist with questions and concerns from our districts/sponsors. Please reach out to us at cnp@isbe.net. Thank you for all you’re doing to feed students in need during these challenging times.

    ... Read More

    APPLY FOR EMERGENCY MEAL DISTRIBUTION EQUIPMENT GRANTS | Action For Healthy Kids (AFHK) announced the availability of Emergency Meal Distribution Equipment Grants to assist with grab-and-go curbside meal pickups, hot and cold food storage containers, grab-and-go packaging materials, and mobile distribution to families in outlying or rural communities.

    The grants are sponsored by ALDI and Cargill. AFHK is working with equipment vendor Hubert to provide selected school districts with equipment credits for $1,000-$2,000 per site to purchase equipment to be used now and into the fall.

    For more information, including a link to download the application, visit the Action for Healthy Kids webpage.

    ... Read More

    SCHOOL BUSINESS SERVICES

    NEW! FY 2020 ROUND 1 SCHOOL MAINTENANCE PROJECT GRANTS QUARTERLY EXPENDITURE REPORTS | All school districts that were awarded a School Maintenance Project Grant will be receiving an email explaining that they will need to complete a quarterly report for expenditures through June 30, 2020. Please follow the instructions found within IWAS or on ISBE’s website to complete the Quarterly Expenditure Report.

    All School Maintenance Grants have been approved by ISBE and submitted to the Comptroller’s Office for payments. The payments for the grants have just started to be paid by the Comptroller’s Office. Your district may or may not have received the payment as of this notice. Please know the payments are forthcoming.

    Please contact Tiana Mathis with the School Business Services Department at tmathis@isbe.net or SMPG@isbe.net if you need assistance.

    ... Read More




    June 29 - MPPI: New PPP Forgiveness Applications and AAP guidance



    SBA Releases Updated PPP Forgiveness Application and EZ Form

    PPP Loan Forgiveness: New Application Forms and Updates
     
    Following passage of the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (PPPFA), the SBA has updated the PPP loan forgiveness form and created an EZ forgiveness application.
     
    The instructions for the EZ application note that this form can be used if your business did not reduce the salary or wages of employees by more than 25% (with the exception of employees earning more than $100,000) and did not reduce the number of FTE’s. The EZ forgiveness application and instructions.
     
    If you do not qualify to use the EZ forgiveness application you should use the updated regular application and instructions
     
    In addition to the new forms, the latest guidance in the form of an interim final rule confirms that the percentage of loan proceeds needed to be spent on payroll costs in order qualify for full loan forgiveness has been reduced from 75% to 60%, with partial forgiveness still available for businesses which spend less than 60% on payroll costs.
     
    Since borrowers can now use a 24-week Covered Period instead of an 8-week Covered Period, the guidance also calculates the total cash compensation eligible for forgiveness per employee under either Covered Period as:

    • $15,385 for an 8-week Covered Period
    • $46,154 for a 24-week Covered Period 

    (Note that different calculations apply for owner-employees, outlined in detail in this article)
     
    The guidance also clarifies that borrowers may apply for forgiveness before the end of the Covered Period if they have used all of the loan funds, unless they have reduced salaries or wages of any employee by more than 25%, in which case the borrower must account for the salary reduction for the full 8 or 24 week Covered Period.
     
    You can read our brief for a full summary of changes rendered to PPP loans by the PPPFA. We will continue to keep you posted as any additional guidance is released.

     
    American Academy of Pediatrics Guidance on School Reopening
    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released guidance to support educators, public health officials, and policy makers in making decisions about school re-entry. They note that schools go beyond academic instruction in providing social-emotional learning, various therapies, nutrition and more and the document advocates that the goal of any policy conversations should be to have students physically present in school.
     
    They have recommendations based on age group and also based on preventive measure (distancing, face coverings, disinfecting, screening etc.)
     

    Opportunities for Advancing Racial Equity and Anti-Racism

    An Invitation and Call to Action for White Educators
    In this op-ed, Kimberly Smith, Executive Director of The League of Innovative Schools, placed a call to action to white educators to become co-conspirators in “creating the conditions for black students to thrive.” They are hosting two webinars for individuals who have signed the call to action, a panel of black education leaders on July 7th and a panel of white education leaders on July 15th, both at 5 ET.
     
    The Practice of Anti-Bias and Anti-Racism in Schools
    Elm City Montessori School is hosting an educator panel on Monday, July 20th at 2:00PM to discuss: How can educators build ABAR (Anti-Bias Anti-Racist) classrooms? The panel will share their stories of self-discovery and how they create youth-led space for conversations about racial identity, racism, and activism. RSVP here.



    June 29 - COVID-19 and Other Important Resources for Providers & Families


    Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

    In Loving Memory of Maria Whelan

    Maria Whelan, beloved President and CEO of Illinois Action for Children (IAFC), passed away suddenly on June 10, 2020. On behalf of GOECD's staff we extend our thoughts and prayers to Maria's family and the Illinois Action for Children family. Maria will always be remembered as a voice and a force within the early childhood community. View IAFC's tribute video for Maria here. View the Governor's Proclamation "honoring her memory and her impressive legacy" here

    Resources on Racism, Racial Equity, and Diversity for Families

    As adults, we can struggle with a wide range of emotions. If we put ourselves in the shoes of children, these feelings are even more complicated. How do we as parents, caregivers, and early childhood care and education providers support our children? GOECD has compiled resources about race, racism, diversity, and inclusion that may support you, your children, your family, and your community.

    Connecting Children & Families to Early Intervention During COVID-19

    Early Intervention (EI) continues to serve infants and toddlers with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic and can process all types of referrals. Through EI, infants and toddlers receive a comprehensive set of supports that foster healthy development during the first three years of life. Individuals and entities who also engage with young children are an important connector to this vital service supporting their social-emotional, cognitive, communicative, and physical development. This Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document addresses common questions you may have regarding how to connect children and families to EI during COVID-19. Additional questions can be directed to the Bureau of Early Intervention (217-782-1981) or your local Child and Family Connections Office (CFC). Listing and contact information for your CFC can be found here.

    For Families Receiving EI Services

    Home Visiting is Essential: Information for Families and Providers During COVID-19

    The MIECHV team (with support from the Ounce of Prevention and other Illinois

    home visiting funders) developed resource and public awareness documents for families and community referral sources. The primary focus of the documents is to emphasize that prior to the pandemic home visitors were already a critical link for new and expectant parents, providing one-on-one support at no cost to eligible families to promote infant and child health, foster educational development and school readiness, and help prevent child abuse and neglect. Now more than ever, home visiting is an essential service for families as they navigate social isolation, economic uncertainty, the challenge of balancing work without child care, and other unique and heightened stressors brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    For Child Care Providers

    Additionally, as noted in both FAQ documents, the CCR&R system is collecting information from programs (centers and homes) that are opening in Phases 3 & 4 of Restore Illinois to connect families that need care to local care that is available. Programs are strongly encouraged to submit their information to Child Care Providers Opening in Phases 3 & 4 of Restore Illinois so parents can be referred to your program.


    Thank you and be well,

    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    June 25 - Updated Restore Illinois Day Care Guidance & Emergency Rules 407


    Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

    We wanted to make you aware that DCFS, IDPH, and GOECD have released updated Restore Illinois Day Care Guidance (6/24/2020).

    Additionally, DCFS has filed emergency rule making on 407. This emergency rule making is effective June 24, 2020, for a maximum of 150 days.  

    Additions to the rules includes:

    • Centers may choose to staff classrooms with a qualified early childhood assistant for up to 3 hours of their program day and should document such in the program's Enhanced Staffing Plan.
    • Staff qualified to work as Early Childhood Teachers in an Emergency Day Care (EDC) and who served in the role from March-May 2020 can continue to work as an Early Childhood Teacher through July 31, 2020, at the same program which has since reverted to their normal day care license.
       

    Thank you and be well,

    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    June 23 - Gov. Pritzker Signs Remote Learning Legislation to Protect Students and Educators


    Dear Colleagues:  

    Governor JB Pritzker signed into law today Senate Bill 1569, which includes many education provisions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the Governor’s press release below for highlights from the bill. Importantly, the legislation creates a Blended Remote Learning Day option to gives schools additional flexibility as they develop plans for fall.  

    ISBE will release guidance in the next week to support a safe transition back to in-person learning this fall. We will emphasize in-person learning for all students to the greatest extent possible, while realizing that may not be feasible in all situations. Blended Remote Learning Days allow schools to utilize a mix of in-person and remote learning, if needed, to protect the health and safety of students, teachers, and families. Schools that plan to utilize Blended Remote Learning Days should consider equity and prioritize in-person learning for our students with greater needs. 

    You may have listened into the ISBE Board meeting yesterday, which included a preview of the preliminary guidance for starting the 2020-21 school year in person. ISBE, the Illinois Department of Public Health, and our 56-member Transition Advisory Workgroup have worked together to develop common and clear requirements, while preserving the flexibility of each school district to implement a reopening plan that meets the needs of the community and the children that they serve. The guidance will include public health requirements for personal protective equipment, including face coverings; capacity limits on individuals in one space; social distancing; symptom screening; and schoolwide cleaning and disinfection.  

    Having been a district superintendent in Illinois, I understand the urgency of getting clarity and direction out to all of you as quickly as possible. At the same time, the stakes have never been higher for our guidance to adhere to the best and most current science and data. Meeting this standard has meant deep collaboration with public health experts. I appreciate the patience you have shown as we have sought to meet the high standard necessary to protect the health and safety of our students. 

    We hope to release the guidance in the next week and will follow the release with webinars to answer your questions in real-time. We respect the herculean effort required to plan for in-person instruction under the current circumstances, and we thank you for your ongoing partnership.  

    Sincerely,  

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 

    State Superintendent of Education 

    Illinois State Board of Education

    Office of the Governor 

    JB Pritzker 

    Gov. Pritzker Signs Remote Learning Legislation to Protect Students and Educators 

     Legislation Expands Emergency Use of Remote Learning, Makes Changes to School Code in Response to COVID-19 

    Springfield – To ensure Illinois school districts have the necessary tools to effectively carry out remote learning and other necessary operations during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor JB Pritzker signed SB 1569 into law to provide support for educators, students, and families. 

    "As we face the challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois is doing all it can to ensure our students receive the quality education they deserve," said Governor JB Pritzker. "Educators and administrators are doing what they do best, helping students continue to learn, providing meals, and looking out for the wellbeing of our children and families. This legislation will support that critical work and I applaud the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois General Assembly for coming together to support our schools and students across the state.” 

    “The Illinois State Board of Education will release guidance in the coming days to support a safe transition back to in-person learning this fall,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “We emphasize in-person learning for all students to the greatest extent possible, while realizing that may not be feasible in all situations. Senate Bill 1569 creates a Blended Remote Learning Day option that gives schools additional flexibility as they develop plans for fall. Schools that plan to utilize Blended Remote Learning Days should consider equity and prioritize in-person learning for our students with greater needs.” 

    Due to the disruptions to in-person learning during the pandemic, the legislation allows school districts to use remote learning during a declared public health emergency. The legislation allows remote learning days and up to five remote learning planning days to be considered attendance days. The legislation also waives student assessment requirements if the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education. 

    To assist teachers, the legislation provides a year-long licensure extension for those with teaching and education support professional licenses set to expire on June 30, 2020. To address the performance rating system for educators, the law outlines procedures and protections for evaluations, such as carrying over an “Excellent” rating from the previous evaluation period. To support educator recruitment, modifications to the School Code include: 

    • Makes licenses endorsed for visiting international educators valid for five years (currently three); 
    • Allows career and technical education teachers to renew their licenses with a test of workplace proficiency, not solely educators whose license was issued July 1, 2015 or after; and 
    • Updates language to conform with current licensure nomenclature. 

    The law also affirms that constitution exams can be administered remotely. 

    Building on efforts to provide support for child care providers, the law allows recipients of preschool education grants funded by ISBE to care for the children of essential workers who are under the age of 12 years old. 

    For parents, the law expands the requirement that they receive copies of all written materials used during a meeting to determine a child’s eligibility for special education and related services. Additionally, the legislation allows parents to choose how they wish to receive those materials and copies of their child’s school student records prior to the meeting.   

    The law ensures graduating high school seniors can graduate and earn their diploma. Additionally, ISBE may adopt rules to modify the requirements of the high school graduation requirements. 

    Regarding higher education, the law requires courses taken during the calendar year 2020 to be transferable for students receiving a passing grade and to fulfill the prerequisite requirements for advanced courses. 

    “With no time to prepare, the COVID-19 pandemic challenged educators to find new and innovative ways to meet the physical, social emotional, and academic needs of their students.  We are grateful that the General Assembly, working in collaboration with Governor Pritzker, swiftly passed Senate Bill 1569 to codify the flexibility and creativity educators required to provide essential services to our states young people,” said Dr. Jason Leahy, Executive Director of the Illinois Principals Association.  

    “Throughout this pandemic, the Governor and State Board of Education have worked to provide guidance to districts and make adjustments to school operations with the primary focus always on serving students,” said Illinois Federation of Teachers President Dan Montgomery. “Through Executive Orders and now the signing of this legislation, the Governor is sending a clear message that in these difficult times our focus should be on meeting the basic instructional, social, and emotional needs of students and not testing and bureaucracy. We applaud this effort.”   

    “We are very thankful that lawmakers saw fit to provide guidance in law that allows educators to concentrate on teaching and working to meet the needs of students in an emergency situation, to continue to work toward fixing the teacher shortage and to listen to the concerns of all involved when coming up with these solutions. It's a true testament to collaboration and to what we can do as a state when we pull together in the best interest of students," said Illinois Education Association President Kathi Griffin. 

    "During this unprecedented time in our state's history, SB 1569, the Education Omnibus all is comprehensive legislation to account for and acknowledge the real-time learning progress of our students and provide out entire educational system flexibility needed for successful students outcomes. No matter what the future holds for teaching and learning nationwide, Illinois is now better equipped to address out students' educational needs," said Assistant Majority Leader Will Davis. 

    “Teachers and administrators throughout our state stepped up to the plate and performed under extremely unusual circumstance,” said Sen. Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant. “I’m pleased to the Governor is signing our education bill, which allows our schools to serve our students to the best of their ability during these unique times.”   

     SB 1569 takes effect immediately. 



    June 10 - Governor announces Child Care Restoration Grants - Complete Intent to Apply today!


    The Governor and the Illinois General Assembly has directed at least $270 million of the state’s Coronavirus Urgent Remediation Emergency (CURE) Fund to support the economic health of child care providers as our economy reopens in the coming months. As part of CURE, the Business Interruption Grants (BIG) Program is specifically designed to support businesses who endure lost revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

    We know our state’s recovery relies on the economic survival of our regulated child care system.

    The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services is charged to develop the grant program for licensed child care. The Child Care Restoration Grants will be administered by the Illinois Network of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (INCCRRA).

    The first step is to let us know if you intend to apply for a Child Care Restoration Grant.  Please complete the Intent to Apply SurveyThe information gathered here will help to inform the development of the grants program to be released in July 2020. The opportunity to respond to the survey will close on June 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm.

    For more information, please visit https://www.ilgateways.com/financial-opportunities/restoration-grants



    June 9 - Mr. George Floyd: "Daddy changed the world"


    Dear Early Childhood Community,

    To say it's been an emotional time is an understatement. Families and the world community are hurting witnessing the murder of Mr. George Floyd. I am the mother of two Black men, a grandmother, and a mother to Black men from other mothers of which I include George Floyd. My heart is heavy for the Black men and women, including Eleanor Bumpurs, Sandra Bland, and Breonna Taylor that have come before him. The list is long and growing. There are many that we will never know their name. My heart is heavy for those who took a seat and a knee for justice who lost their lives and their careers for doing so. 

    Recent events remind us that racism is pervasive and deadly. Author, Ta-Nehisi Coates states our phrasing, race relations, racial chasm, racial justice, racial profiling, white privilege, even white supremacy--serves to obscure that racism is a visceral experience, that it dislodges brains, blocks airways, rips muscle, extracts organs, cracks bones, and breaks teeth. We cannot allow systemic racism to go unchallenged. If we don't address history, history will continue to repeat itself. "An America that looks away is ignoring not just the sins of the past but the sins of the present and the certain sins of the future." (Coates) Looking away and silence is not an option.

    What we are experiencing is a call to action. We must own our truth and address education policies and practices that have a disparate impact on Black children and families. African American males' education experiences are often negative. They experience injustice at all educational levels and in all areas of education. If you're Black in America and especially if you are a Black man or boy it has been stated you are convicted in the womb. In our preschool classrooms, studies show that Black boys are more likely to be seen as "problem" children than their peers, and they are less likely to be considered ready for school. Teachers spend more time watching Black children than White children when looking for disruptive behaviors. How do we reconcile the over-representation of Black boys as early as pre-K-3 in areas of suspension and expulsion? African American males are suspended more than any other racial group, beginning in preschool. How do we reconcile the special education referral process that results in the misplacement of Black boys in high incidence areas (i.e. learning disability, developmental delay, emotional and behavior disorders)? Terms such as "at risk" and "endangered" have become a proxy for African American males. How schools create welcoming, supportive, and quality early education and care experiences for Black boys is critical. Black boys matter, and they need and deserve nothing less.

    Our children are watching and listening to what we stand for during these challenging times. This is not the future we want our children to experience--injustice, indifference and inequality. Individuals are struggling as to what to say or what to do. One can no longer say "I don't see color"; skin color is the measure of one's life and its value. Systemic change requires action. Until there is change there will continue to be a knee on Black peoples' neck. Each person can do something starting with self-reflection, listening to understand, be willing to have the hard conversation, and be a part of the solution at the policy and practice levels. What matters are the actions that are taken. Mr. Floyd's 6-year-old daughter Gianna reminds us "Daddy Changed the World". On behalf of the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development staff we extend our heartfelt sympathy to the Floyd family and may Mr. George Floyd rest in peace.

     

    Be well,


    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    June 8 - IL Phase 3 Guidance for Schools



    June 5 - Phase 3: Additional Resources for Families & Providers

    Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

    Additional materials have been developed to support families and providers as Illinois moves further into Phase 3 of Restore Illinois. 

    For Illinoisans

    For Families 

    For All Early Childhood Education & Care Providers

    GOECD, in partnership with the Illinois Pyramid Model State Leadership Team, has developed Social-Emotional Toolkits early childhood providers and leaders can use to manage stressors and promote wellness during challenging times.

    For Child Care Providers

    • DCFS has filed emergency rulemaking on 406, 407, and 408. These emergency rulemakings are effective as of May 29, 2020 for a maximum of 150 days. 
    • Phase 3 FAQs for Homes and Centers are forthcoming.  

    For Home Visiting Programs 


    For After School Program Coordinators, Managers & Directors

    Click here for more information and to register for an upcoming training opportunity, Reimagining Afterschool in Illinois: From State and National Perspectives, hosted by the National AfterSchool Association on June 17, 2020 at 10AM. 


    Thank you and be well,

     

    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    May 31 - New DCFS Licensing guidelines 5/29/2020


     

    May 30 - Restore Illinois Phase 3: Guidance & Resources for Early Childhood

    Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

    Restore Illinois: A Public Health Approach to Safely Open Our State is a five-phased plan guided by health metrics to safely and deliberately reopen Illinois. The majority of Illinois will enter Phase 3 of Restore Illinois on May 29, 2020. Chicago will begin cautiously reopening on June 3, 2020: Phase 3 Cautiously Reopen: Industry Guidelines for Reopening.

    On Friday, May 22, 2020, Restore Illinois Child Care Guidelines were released to provide an overview of the requirements and recommended practices for child care programs in Phases 3 and 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.

    Additional materials have since been developed to support:

    Child Care Providers

    • Updated DCFS Rules 406, 407, and 408 will be posted on Monday, June 1, 2020.  
    • GOECD & DCFS released Reopening Quick Reference - For Homes and Reopening Quick Reference - For Centers guidance documents to support licensed child care home- and center-based providers as they prepare to reopen their programs in Phase 3 and Phase 4 of Restore Illinois.
    • The Resources to Support Providers through COVID-19 page on the GOECD website has been redesigned to feature resources to support child care providers as they consider reopening in Phase 3 of Restore Illinois and as they develop the Agency Action Plans that must be submitted to DCFS before reopening. 

    Early Intervention Providers

    Families

    Below are upcoming Illinois AfterSchool Network webinars that may be of interest:

    Supporting Families to help them understand Trauma and the Impact on Youth Behavior and Mental Health  

    Date/Time: Thursday, June 4 from 10 until 11:30

    Presenter:  Linda Delimata, LCPC, Director of Mental Health Consultation, Illinois Children's Mental Health Partnership 

    Intended Audience: After School Program Staff and Managers

    Register here.

    Active Fitness for Youth Quarantine Style!

    Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2020

    Time: 10 until noon

    Intended Audience: Front line staff and Coordinators who work with youth in after school through middle school

    Register here


    Thank you and be well,


    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)


     

    May 30 - Illinois Summer Program Guidelines

    This document is applicable to businesses that meet the following criteria:

    • Day camps not licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) operating over the summer months
      • Examples of day camps include (non-exhaustive): recreational day camps, educational day camps, religious day camps
    • In Phase III, day camps are limited to:
      • Camps taking place during the day only (no overnight camps permitted)


     

    May 28 - Chicago Phase III Childcare Reopening Guidelines

     

    May 26 - ONPE: CARES Act Equitable Services Guidance -- Proportional Share of Funds for Equitable Services

    Dear Non-Public School Leaders,

    The Office of Non-Public Education would like to alert you to the attached letter from the U.S. Department of Education (Department) to the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) regarding the Department’s non-regulatory guidance document – Providing Equitable Services to Students and Teachers under the CARES Act Programs, published April 30, 2020 – and how an LEA determines the proportional share of funds that must be reserved to provide equitable services to non-public school students and teachers under the CARES Act programs. 

    We hope this serves to clarify any uncertainty in the field regarding this matter.

    Thank you for your efforts to ensure the equitable participation of non-public school students and teachers in CARES Act programs. 


    The Office of Non-Public Education


     

    May 19 - MPPI: Twists and Turns to Non-Public School ESSER Fund Distribution

    The Illinois State Board of Education has informed the Illinois Coalition of Nonpublic Schools that Illinois will be recording both total enrollment and Title I enrollment in the consulting process around ESSER Funds. The state will be immediately releasing funds to private schools based on Title I numbers and then holding the remaining funds based on total enrollment pending the outcome of the controversy surrounding the USDE guidance. Please do reach out to your school district to make sure your school will have a consultation and the opportunity to participate. See below for an update from MPPI on this topic:


    Education Stabilization Fund ESSER Allocations Paused in Many States


    There have been some recent twists and turns regarding the disbursement of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) dollars to private schools.

    Background
    According to the CARES Act, state departments of education receive their allocation of ESSER funds in direct proportion to the number of Title I (low income) students in their state. These funds are then disbursed to local school districts (LEAs) according to the proportion of Title I students in their district. The CARES Act also requires that LEAs distribute an equitable proportion of the funding they receive to nonpublic schools located in their districts in “the same manner as provided under section 1117 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).”
     
    That phrase required interpretation by the US Department of Education which released guidance that clarifies that school districts are to allocate funds to non-public schools using a formula based on the total number of enrolled students in those schools as a percentage of total enrollment in the district. Based on that guidance, MPPI published this FAQ that explains more about the process we and other private school organizations anticipated, and which some school districts began to implement with regards to allocating funding to non-public schools.
     
    What’s Changed?
    Since that guidance was issued, there has been some push-back by public education organizations. In addition, last week the House of Representatives passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act (HEROES) which contained language specifying that equitable services under CARES Act programs only apply to a non-public school’s Title I count rather than to all students. We do not anticipate that the HEROES Act in its current form will be passed by the Senate.

    However, due to these developments, states are taking a variety of approaches in terms of allocating funds to non-public schools. A few states are openly defying the guidance issued by the Department of Education and interpreting the equitable services clause in the CARES Act to apply only to Title I student in non-public schools. Several other states are pausing or slowing down their consultation process with nonpublic schools citing the possibility that the HEROES Act or other future legislation may walk back the guidance from the USDE. As such they are first distributing funds to non-public schools based on their Title I counts and reserving allocations based on total student enrollment to distribute later if the original USDE guidance stands.

    As a result, you may be getting new or conflicting information or be getting told explicitly by your school district that they are only apportioning funds based on your school’s Title I count. We advise that you reach out to your school district if you have not received any communications from them about consultation for ESSER funds. Also, connect with your state advocacy organization; they may be working with your state CAPE or other advocacy groups to both clarify and expedite the process for non-public schools and advocate for use of the USDE guidance. We are continuing to advocate with colleagues at the federal level and will keep you apprised of any new developments or actions you should take.
     

    Re-Opening Child-Care and Schools
    As states develop regulations and guidance for the opening of child-care centers, schools, and summer programming, MPPI is posting them on our state by state COVID page. We anticipate that these will continue to be amended and updated by states as more if CDC guidelines change and as more is known about coronavirus transmission.




    May 15 - ISBE: Part One of Transition Considerations, Graduate Together Telecast Tomorrow

    Dear Colleagues:

    I am very happy to be able to announce that ISBE is releasing Part One of our recommendations for transitioning to in-person instruction, which focuses on Considerations for Closing the 2019-20 School Year & Summer 2020.

    The Governor’s Restore Illinois plan places the return to physical school buildings in Phase 4 of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The entire state is currently experiencing Phase 2, but different regions around the state may reach Phase 4 at different times. You may have heard me say already that schools and districts should have a plan A, plan B, and plan C. When students return to physical school buildings, in-person instruction will not look normal.

    I encourage district leaders to start thinking about using CARES Act funds for further strengthening their infrastructure for remote learning and for professional development and planning. As the Illinois Association of School Administrators communicated yesterday, I also encourage every district to begin the procurement process for purchasing PPE and deep cleaning supplies as soon as possible in order to have them ready for when students return to school buildings. IASA Executive Director Brent Clark said, “At this point, our inquiry through the supply chains is ahead of other states, but it’s not going to be long before others start to catch up. My best advice is to get in line now given the global demand on these products.” As a reminder, FEMA Public Assistance funds are available for these expenses.

    In the next few weeks, ISBE – in partnership with the Illinois Department of Public Health – will provide further recommendations to help you navigate this transition.

    Part One that we are releasing today provides academic, social-emotional, and logistical considerations for ending the current school year and entering the summer. To develop the transition considerations, ISBE convened an advisory group with the key lenses that should be present in developing local plans, including social workers, administrators, multilingual educators, special education instructors, and general education teachers. The advisory group firmly believes that an effective transition back to school starts with closing out the current school year. 

    Part One covers grading and addressing Incompletes in more detail; summer school; and utilizing the summer months for professional development, preparations to assess student learning, social-emotional supports, and device distribution.

    I know many of you are eager for more – for guidance on how to plan for the start of next school year and for when students return to the classroom. We are eager, too. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that these considerations are matters of life and death. We are working closely with public health experts to ensure that any recommendations we provide to you contain the information you will need to welcome your students and staff back safely with minimal risk to their health and wellbeing. We must take every precaution with the lives of students and families in our hands.

    As I announced last week, Illinois is excited to partner with the Council of Chief State School Officers and XQ Institute in support of Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020, a one-hour, commercial-free primetime graduation special to be broadcast Saturday. During the broadcast, viewers will be directed to XQ’s new Rethink Together online forum, which will feature specific content for Illinois, including a congratulatory message to our graduates from me and special messages from the seniors on ISBE’s awesome Student Advisory Council to their fellow members of the Class of 2020.

    The national telecast will air on Saturday, May 16 at 7 p.m. on more than 30 broadcast and cable networks and streaming services, as well as various social media platforms. Led by XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation, and The Entertainment Industry Foundation, the special is being produced in partnership with a broad coalition of education, philanthropic, and corporate partners. In addition, corporate and philanthropic giving associated with #GraduateTogether will benefit DonorsChoose and America’s Food Fund to help meet student needs in some of our nation’s most underserved and under-resourced communities.

    I will close with a friendly reminder to please complete and ask your teachers and fellow administrators to complete the Illinois Educator Survey by May 31, which will equip all of us with incredibly helpful statewide perspectives on your needs as we work together with IDPH on the next parts of our transition recommendations.

    Thank you, and have a wonderful, safe, and restful weekend.


    Sincerely,

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
    State Superintendent of Education
    Illinois State Board of Education


    May 13 - MPPI: SBA Clarifies PPP Certification Requirement

    SBA Releases FAQ #46 With Additional Information on Certification
    Good News for Smaller Loan Recipients!

    We wanted to get you the latest update about PPP loans released today. The SBA released clarification that PPP loans under $2 million will be deemed to have met the required good faith certification.

    Question # 46 was added to the SBA's FAQ document on the PPP program earlier today and states that, "SBA, in consultation with the Department of the Treasury, has determined that the following safe harbor will apply to SBA’s review of PPP loans with respect to this issue: Any borrower that, together with its affiliates, received PPP loans with an original principal amount of less than $2 million will be deemed to have made the required certification concerning the necessity of the loan request in good faith."

    You can read the full text of Question 46 on the FAQ document.

    We'll continue to keep you posted as any additional guidance is released.


     

    May 12 - MPPI: Still more on PPP and the Education Stabilization Fund


    Still More on PPP…

    Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

    It seems we’ve been talking about PPP forever, but there is a lot to digest if you’ve received a PPP loan. A couple of urgent notes for you and your school board (if applicable) to consider:

    1. The SBA’s additional guidance about businesses making good faith certification about their need for the funds came out after many schools had applied for the loans. Best practice would be to memorialize your reasoning for needing the money and board approval for the loan prior to Thursday, May 14th, which is the Safe Harbor deadline to return funds, if in fact you determine that you do not need them. We’re reposting this article from the law firm of Whiteford Taylor Preston which includes questions to answer in documenting the case for why your school needs a PPP loan.
    2. Remember that definitive guidance has not yet been issued about whether the obligations created by being a recipient of federal financial assistance will be lifted upon payment/forgiveness of the loan if the funds have been used for payment of rent, utilities, or mortgage interest rather than exclusively for payroll. It is possible that your school would remain under those obligations for the life of the building or lease if you use loan funds for purposes other than payroll. In the event that guidance is not issued before the 8 week period to expend forgivable funds is up or that guidance is issued which says your school will be under those obligations for the life of the building or lease, it will be important to make some decisions about whether to use the funds exclusively for payroll and return the rest.

    If you want to more thoroughly understand what obligations your school has as a recipient of federal financial assistance and/or do a deeper dive into accounting information related to PPP loan forgiveness, you can check out our recent webinar series.
     

    Additional Guidance on the Education Stabilization Fund
    The US Department of Education posted an FAQ document for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) on Friday, May 8th. ESSER is one component of the Education Stabilization Fund created by the CARES Act. This most recent FAQ reinforces the guidance released by US ED on April 30th stating that local education agencies (LEAs) are required to provide equitable services to non-public schools with ESSER funds. If you are not familiar with equitable services, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires local education agencies (LEAs) to provide eligible private school students, their teachers, and their families with services that are equitable to those services provided to eligible public school students, their teachers, and their families for the various federal Title programs (Title I, Title II etc.). The CARES Act and the US Department of Education guidance indicate that private schools must receive equitable services with regards to funding LEAs receive through ESSER. You can see our FAQ on what this means for your school here.
     

    Is Your State Legislature Open for Business?
    The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is tracking the status of state legislatures across the country regarding suspension and postponement of sessions. Regardless of whether your legislature is meeting, your state legislators and their staff are still hearing from constituents and advocates. Connect with your state advocacy group to stay abreast of any calls to action in your state.
     

    MPPI Stakeholder Survey
    As we’ve pivoted over the past 2 months to focus predominantly on information and resources related to COVID-19, we’d love to better understand how our resources have helped you and what else we can do to support you during this time. We’d greatly appreciate you taking a few moments to complete this brief survey.


     

    May 6 - ISBE: Teacher Appreciation Week, P-EBT, Student Attendance Guidance, Updated Comprehensive Guidance

    Dear Colleagues:

     

    Today marks the beginning of this year’s official Teacher Appreciation Week. I emphasize the word “official” because I have a hunch that families experiencing remote learning developed a newfound appreciation for teachers as far back as March 17 and that their appreciation has deepened every day since. I am proud of and in awe of each of you. We have asked so much of you over the past seven weeks, and every day my inbox is flooded with incredible accounts of teachers saving the day. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I know you’re busy, but if you have time, watch a short video message I recorded just for you via Twitter or Facebook.

     

    Governor JB Pritzker is also supporting Teacher Appreciation Week and encouraging all Illinoisans to thank our incredible teachers by sharing photos and videos at www.enjoyillinois.com/allinillinois/teachers.

     

    The Governor thanked teachers in his press conference today, saying, “Educators have long been an unsung hero, giving the next generation the tools they need to build a better world. In this pandemic, millions of teachers have stepped into new roles as meal distributors, tech support staff, 3D printers, YouTube stars, innovators… doing their best to do their jobs and see students through an unprecedented situation. And by and large, they have shown us their extraordinary compassion and creativity. I am grateful to them. To all the educators watching, thank you for all the roles you are filling right now, and I am so grateful to you. If you are not a teacher but you know one, I hope you will take a moment to thank them today, call them, send them a note online. A few kind words goes an awfully long way. So I would appreciate if you would reach out to them today.”

     

    Anyone who wants to recognize an educator can share their stories on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AllInIllinois. I know it’s not the same as the baked treats and physical gifts teachers may receive at this time of year, but we look forward to seeing what is shared and amplifying these appreciations.

     

    Following up on my message from Friday, announcing the availability of the Pandemic EBT (P-EBT application, the Illinois Department of Human Services has received more than 3,100 applications since Friday. Please remind your school communities that families can participate in both P-EBT and any meal distribution program that is currently available at their school. They do not have to choose one or the other, as these programs operate independent of each other. Please share this information widely to ensure families in need are receiving all available support during this difficult time.

     

    As many school districts begin approaching the close of the school year, please note that attendance data should be submitted to ISBE in the same manner as prior to Remote Learning Days, via the Student Information System. All SIS users received detailed guidance on reporting attendance to ISBE last Wednesday, April 29. Many of you are finding creative ways to engage with your students each day. For those who need a little assistance, please reference our new student attendance guidance document for more recommendations and resources on checking student engagement during remote learning.

     

    Attendance goes hand-in-hand with school calendars, so today we also released updated comprehensive guidance that addresses multiple questions regarding school calendars. In the document, we outline the types of days that may count toward the requirement for 176 school days, as well as detailed information regarding Remote Planning Days and spring breaks. ISBE has built in as much flexibility as possible regarding how those days are counted. As a reminder, no calendar revisions need to be made in the Public School Calendar System at this time. Please keep accurate records and plan to work collaboratively with Regional Offices of Education and Intermediate Service Centers to submit final calendars in June. 

     

    COVID-19 has forced us to transform so many of the activities we normally love to fit new and different circumstances - including how we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week. Teachers in Diamond Lake School District 76 received signs in their yards. The Lincoln-Way West Student Council created a video message for their teachers. Stevenson High School created a photo collage for their math and science teachers as part of a Teacher Appreciation Week video series. Chicago Public Schools administrators delivered a video message to #ThankATeacher. And the PTO at Channahon School District 17 decorated their school grounds for teachers to see as they drive by.

     

    Illinois’ amazing teachers have gone above and beyond for us; and now it’s our turn to go above and beyond for them. Keep sharing your gratitude and praise. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

     

    Sincerely,  

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala  
    State Superintendent of Education  
    Illinois State Board of Education



    May 5 - MPPI: Education Stabilization Fund Guidance Released


    Education Stabilization Fund Guidance Released

    The CARES Act provides for significant funding to states through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF). On Thursday, April 30th, the US Department of Education released an FAQ document to clarify how state education agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs) are to provide equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools. Note, this funding applies only to non-profit private schools; for-profit schools are excluded.
     
    As noted in MPPI’s overview of the Education Stabilization Fund, the CARES Act requires LEAs who receive funding either through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER) or through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER) to provide equitable services to non-public schools.
     
    How Can These Funds Benefit My School?
    There are 12 acceptable uses for ESSER funds outlined in the CARES Act, which we have listed at the end of this document. They encompass purchasing cleaning supplies, purchasing technology, implementing summer learning activities, and professional development among many others. While the focus of this document is on ESF funds available to non-public schools through their LEAs, GEER funds will be distributed at the governor’s discretion and can be used to support early childhood programs among other uses.
     
    What Do I Need to Do?
    FAQ #6 states that, “an LEA is responsible for initiating the consultation process. It must contact officials in all non-public schools in the LEA to notify them of the opportunity for their students and teachers to obtain equitable services under the CARES Act programs. Through this initial contact, the LEA can explain the services available under the CARES Act programs and how non-public school students and teachers can participate. If non-public school officials have not been contacted, they may contact the LEA or the State ombudsman to inquire about equitable services under the CARES Act programs.”
     
    If you know you want to participate or get more information about participation, be on the lookout for communications from your LEA. If you have not heard anything from your LEA in a couple of weeks, contact the LEA to inquire about their timeline for consultation with non-public schools.
     
    **Your school need not have participated in any Title programs nor have Title I eligible students enrolled in order to participate. If your LEA communicates either of these stipulations to you, you can refer them to the FAQ document, specifically questions 7 and 8.
     
    How Would the Funds Be Given to My School?
    An LEA must retain both control of the funds and title to property purchased with the funds, so your school will not simply be given a check. Once you have been allotted your proportionate share of funds, your LEA will likely establish a requisition process through which your school can purchase supplies, contract with service providers or have teachers reimbursed for professional development. It is likely that non-consumable supplies, such as technology purchases would remain property of the LEA, and essentially be “on loan” to your school.
     
    Because these funds are controlled by the LEA and not given directly to schools, schools that participate are NOT considered recipients of Federal financial assistance.
     
    How Much Money Will We Get?
    There is no way to know ahead of time how much money your individual school could receive. First, each state is given a different amount of money in proportion to their number of Title I students. Then the state distributes funds to the LEAs in proportion to their Title I population. The pot of money that any LEA receives is then to be divided proportionally between the public-school students and non-public school students from non-public schools who choose to participate. If your school is located in a school district with a high Title I student count and there aren’t many private schools participating in this funding stream, your allotment will be higher than a school that is in a district with a lower Title I population and/or more non-public schools participating. If your school is located in a district that has no Title I student population, you will not get any allotment.
     
    Also note that these funds are designated for K-12 students, so the amount your school is allotted will depend on the number of K-12 students and will not include younger children. In addition, while some authorized activities will apply to your entire school, such as the purchase of cleaning supplies, teachers in infant/toddler programs likely will be ineligible for reimbursement of professional development as they do not have any K-12 aged students in their classrooms.
     
    What are My Next Steps?

    • Review the list of authorized activities below and determine whether your school could benefit from participating in this funding stream.
    • Make a list of possible ways you would use funds, so you have those available to discuss with your LEA once you have your consultation.
    • Be on the lookout for communication from your LEA asking if your school wants to participate. If you have never participated in equitable services through the various Title programs, it is possible your LEA may not know your school exists and reaching out to them proactively to express your interest could be advisable.
    • Let MPPI or your state advocacy group leaders know if you run into any issues or roadblocks.

    Acceptable uses of Education Stabilization Funds outlined in the CARES Act:
    “(1) Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, Support, and Assistance Act (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.) (“IDEA”), the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.), the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.) (“the Perkins Act”), or subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.).
    (2) Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
    (3) Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
    (4) Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.
    (5) Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
    (6) Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
    (7) Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
    (8) Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
    (9) Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
    (10) Providing mental health services and supports.
    (11) Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
    (12) Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.”
     
    For a more thorough understanding of what might be an activity authorized by ESEA and IDEA (#1 in the list above) you can refer to this chart.

    The information above is available in PDF form on our website.


     

    May 5 - MPPI: Shifting Child-Care and School Regulations Due to COVID


    Significant Shifts in Regulations Anticipated as
    States Look to Reopen Child-Care and Schools

    The COVID-19 crisis blindsided schools and child-care centers with shutdowns, remote learning and financial uncertainty. While programs continue to battle the cascading effects of these initial challenges, they now have the added conundrum of how and when to reopen and welcome staff, families, and children back safely.

    Many states created provisions for emergency child-care at the pandemic’s outset and are now beginning the process of drafting new policies and regulations for the re-opening of child-care centers and schools. Your state advocacy group leaders are working to reach out to contacts they have at the state level to inquire about process, timelines, and opportunities for stakeholder input around emerging requirements.

    Based on what we are seeing and hearing across the country, MPPI has compiled a list of policy areas that are likely to be impacted and potential new requirements. Much will depend on your state or local landscape, how hard hit it was by COVID-19, and what your state health officials are recommending based on a number of variables in your state. We want you to be aware of what may be required so that you can begin contingency planning in the event that these requirements are put into place in your jurisdiction. We have also included information about existing relief funding and areas where you can advocate for funding relief as programs reopen.

    Check out our brief on potential new regulatory requirements.

     

    April 24 - COVID-19 and Other Resources from GOECD




    Greetings Early Childhood Community, 

    We have some new information and resources to support you during this pandemic. As always, please feel free to share these widely with your networks. 

    Erikson Institute is now offering virtual mental health services in English and Spanish for parents and caregivers of young children regardless of their ability to pay. Most major insurances are accepted, and services can also be provided on a sliding scale or pro-bono basis. Parents and caregivers can reach out to set up an appointment through the intake line at 312-709-0508 (English) or 312-934-6446 (Spanish), or by visiting www.Erikson.edu/ccf. Additional information can be found in the press release 

    In case you missed it, last Friday we released two webinars in a series developed by 

    Erikson Institute's Policy and Leadership department in partnership with GOECD and DHS. These webinars set the baseline for the provision of emergency child care during this pandemic. 

    Finally, though it is not COVID-19-related, we wanted to share with you the resources that have been made available as a result of the Serving Families Together Initiative. The overall goal of this two-year initiative, which began in 2017, was to increase access to Early Intervention (EI) and home visiting services for children and families involved in the child welfare system through building cross-systems knowledge and relationships. A series of webinars and supplemental cross-training materials that offer foundational knowledge for providers who serve families with young children in the EI, home visiting, and child welfare systems in Illinois are now available. 

    As always, COVID-19 resources can be found on the COVID-19 for Early Childhood and Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers pages on the GOECD website. Please revisit these pages often, as they are being updated daily as additional information becomes available.  

    Thank you and be well, 

    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)


     

    April 24 - MPPI: More Considerations Regarding PPP and EIDL


    More Considerations Around PPP and EIDL,
    Upcoming Racial Equity Events and Exploring Reopening

    Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

    Additional Funding for PPP and EIDL Signed Into Law
    As anticipated, yesterday the House approved and today the President signed into law additional federal funding related to coronavirus, which including additional funds for both the PPP and EIDL loan programs. You can consult our past bulletins with information about both of these programs as you ascertain whether either of these is right for your school. If you’ve already applied contact your lender to inquire about next steps.
     

    PPP, EIDL and Being a Recipient of Federal Financial Assistance
    As previously mentioned, schools accepting PPP or EIDL loans will be considered recipients of Federal Financial Assistance (FFA), which obligates private schools to adhere to certain federal laws that they are otherwise exempt from. Part II of this comprehensive resource from NAIS gives an overview of federal laws that apply to a private school as a recipient of FFA. This summary from Fisher Phillips law firm offers additional information regarding the various federal laws and how they become applicable for schools.
     
    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 may have the potential to have the greatest impact and we highly recommend that you consult legal counsel around how to meet the obligations of Section 504 and other laws to ensure your school is in compliance. SBA guidance notes that “once the loan is paid or forgiven, the nondiscrimination obligations will no longer apply,” so the impact may be short-term if your school applies for and receives forgiveness in the next few months.
     
    The law firm of Fisher Phillips is offering a flat rate compliance assistance package and their flier outlines areas schools might need or want assistance in. We are not recommending or endorsing Fisher Phillips, only passing along this information as an example of the kinds of compliance issues you will need to consider and areas of expertise you may need to inquire about with your legal counsel.
     
    Schools who have received PPP or EIDL loans may want to work in collaboration with other recipient schools in approaching a law firm to get training and resources around Section 504 compliance.
     

    What’s an FTE?
    PPP Loan forgiveness is conditioned on maintaining the same number of Full Time Equivalent (FTE) employees. So, what does that mean? FTE is a way of counting numbers of employees in relation to how many hours a week an employee works in comparison to full-time. The number of hours that are considered full-time vary depending on the context and range from 30-40. We are operating under the assumption that for the purposes of PPP, full-time will be considered 30 hours a week based on other SBA programs and on IRS definitions referenced in other provisions of the CARES Act. So for a school, anyone who works 30-40 hours a week would count as 1 FTE. Any staff who work part time would have their hours summed together and divided by 30 to determine how many FTE’s they equal. For example, if you have 3 people who work 10 hours a week and 1 person who works 15 hours a week, together they would comprise 1.5 FTE’s.
     

    PPP and Other Financial Decisions
    If you are applying for or receiving a PPP Loan, you will  have to certify that “current economic uncertainty makes this loan request necessary to support the ongoing operations of the Applicant.” The Small Business Administration recently updated their FAQ document and #31 expounds on this certification question. It will be important to consult legal counsel and/or your accountant before making other financial decisions related to revenue such as tuition payments.
     

    Exploring Reopening
    In the coming weeks we will begin to explore shifts in policies and regulations that will impact schools and child-care facilities once they are allowed to reopen and look at how we can collectively advocate. Please let us know what you are hearing in your state or local community with regards to changes in regulations due to COVID19.
     

    Mark Your Calendars for Two Events Exploring Anti-Bias Education and Equitable Access

    Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms
    “The goal of this webinar is to ensure that participants understand and embrace anti-bias and anti-racist teaching approaches by creating affirming culturally-rich classroom environments that protect children from psychological trauma and heals them from the inside out.”

    • Presented by Iheoma U. Iruka, Chief Research Innovation Officer & Director, HighScope Educational Research Foundation; Stephanie Curenton, Associate Professor, Boston University; and Kerry-Ann Escayg, Assistant Professor, University of Nebraska at Omaha
    • Tuesday, Apr. 28 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time
    • Register here

     Elevating Early Childhood Education: The Benefits of Quality Education and How to Make It Accessible to All Children
    “The conversation will focus on the importance of high-quality early childhood education to economic prosperity in the United States and what policymakers can do to create a cohesive education system for all young children. In particular, panelists will discuss how citizens can engage with local and federal policymakers to address adequate compensation for early childhood professionals and provide equitable access for young children from underserved, low-income, and ethnic minority families and communities.”

    • Featuring Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka, Chief Research Innovation Officer at HighScope, and Stacey Abrams, New York Times Bestselling Author and Political Leader,
    • Wednesday, May 13 at 10:30am
    • Register here


     

    April 22 - MPPI: More $ for PPP and EIDL pending


    Additional Loan Funds Soon to be Authorized
    plus More Resources Regarding FMLA, Sick Leave, and Unemployment


    Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

     
    More Funding for PPP and EIDL!
    After quickly running out of the funding originally allotted in the CARES Act, the Senate has authorized a additional funding and the House is expected approve the legislation on Thursday, April 23rd. Here’s a look at what’s in the new package:
    • An additional $310 billion for the PPP loan program.
      • Of note, a minimum of $60 billion of this money is to be set aside for smaller lenders such as credit unions and community banks, which could be helpful if that’s where you bank.
    • An additional $10 billion for EIDL grants
    If you’ve already submitted your PPP application to your lender, contact your lender to see if they need any other paperwork.

    If you haven’t yet applied and you bank at more than one institution, try to get information about how quickly they could process your application and apply at the one that seems to have more responsive service or lower volume of applications.
     

    If you received a PPP loan:
    For PPP forgiveness you need to meet 3 different conditions:
    • 75% of the funds need to have been spent on payroll costs in the 8 weeks following the date of loan origination
    • You have to maintain the same number of employees
    • No one employee can have their pay decreased by more than 25%
    The 8-week period related to forgiveness begins the day your funds hit the bank, so even though the ‘rehire by’ date for loan forgiveness is June 30th, in reality, in order to spend 75% of your loan funds on payroll in the next 8 weeks to maximize forgiveness, you will need to bring any laid off staff back on payroll as soon as possible. If you don’t have work for them to do, that’s alright. They just need to be paid for the hours they normally would have been working.

    Here’s the link again to a resource from our colleagues at Advisors for Change with detailed information about PPP forgiveness.
     

    If you received both PPP and an EIDL grant/loan:
    • Remember: you can’t book the same expenses to the PPP loan and EIDL. So, for example, you can’t claim that both were used to support April 30th payroll, or that both were used for May rent.
    • EIDL has broader uses than PPP and PPP has a tighter time horizon. The forgivable period for PPP is the 8 weeks following when the funds hit your account and at least 75% needs to be spent on payroll. So, it is likely best to book allowable expenses to PPP first and then to the EIDL grant once your PPP funds are expended. It will be important to work closely with your bookkeeper and make sure expenses are coded in a way that you can easily trace which funds were spent on what as the burden is on you, the borrower, to prove that they were used on allowable expenses when requesting forgiveness.
    • It’s also important to know that if you received an EIDL grant, since those funds are forgivable, they will count against the forgivable amount in your PPP loan. For example, if you received a $10,000 EIDL grant and your PPP loan was $100,000, only $90,000 of that would be forgiven IF all of the other criteria for forgiveness are met (you retain the same number of employees, spend at least 75% on payroll, expend the funds in the first 8 weeks etc.). It will depend on your unique situation whether it makes sense to use the unforgivable $10k remaining from the PPP loan to help with cash flow and pay the 1% interest on it or give it right back to the bank. Work closely with your board, accountant and lender.
    State Laws, Unemployment and Paid Leave
    If you are a private school and have questions about your state’s laws on unemployment or paid leave and how those might apply under current circumstances, consult this chart put together by the law firm of Fisher Phillips.
     

    Education Stabilization Updates
    The US Department of Education has still not released guidance regarding Local Education Agency (LEA—such as a school district) obligations to provide equitable services for nonpublic schools with regards to funding they receive through the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) provision of the CARES Act. LEAs in several states already seem to be charting their own course so MPPI recently sent a letter to the US Department of Education urging them to release guidance. We also provided our state advocacy groups with a template letter to send to their State Education Agencies on the same topic. Thanks to all our state groups who have sent it!

    Stay tuned for updates as guidance on ESF is anticipated later this week.


     

    April 17 - AIMS Governor Letter


    AIMS sent this letter to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker this week to highlight the size and importance of our Illinois Montessori community and request an equitable share of COVID-19 relief funding that is coming to the states for schools and child care facilities.

     

    We are sharing this letter with you so that you can share it with any influential contacts you may have in state government, if you choose to do that. Please feel free to download and email or mail it.

     

    Thank you,

     

    The AIMS Board


     

    April 17 - Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund


    U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced yesterday that nearly $3 billion will quickly be made available to governors to ensure education continues for students of all ages impacted by the coronavirus national emergency. The Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund, authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is an extraordinarily flexible "emergency block grant" designed to enable governors to decide how best to meet the needs of students, schools (including charter schools and non-public schools), postsecondary institutions, and other education-related organizations.

     

    “Governors have the opportunity to truly rethink and transform the approach to education during this national emergency and ensure learning continues," said Secretary DeVos. "At a time when so many school boards and superintendents have shut down learning for the balance of the school year, I want to encourage each and every governor to focus on continuity of education for all students. Parents, families, teachers and other local education leaders are depending on their leadership to ensure students don't fall behind."

     

    A local educational agency that receives GEER Funds must provide equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools located within the LEA in the same manner as provided under section 1117 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA), as determined through timely and meaningful consultation with representatives of non-public schools. (Section 18005 of the CARES Act.)  The U.S. Department of Education will provide additional information to LEAs on this equitable services requirement.

     

    We understand that you might have additional questions. We will post answers to frequently asked questions about the GEER Fund on the Department’s website in the coming days.  Additional information and resources, including the Cover Letter to Governors, Notice Announcing Availability of Funds, State Allocations Table, and Certification and Agreement (Application), are available on the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund webpage.

     

    If you have any questions regarding the GEER Fund and the participation of non-public school students, please send them to: GEERF@ed.gov.


     

    April 17 - Governor Pritzker Announces Schools to Remain Closed for Remainder of School Year


    Governor Pritzker announced today that schools will be closed for in person learning for the remainder of the school year.


    The Governor also announced a Wifi hotspot map that families without access to internet may be able to use to find locations that have available Wifi.


    AIMS will provide further guidance for schools as it becomes available.

     

    April 15 - MPPI: COVID Policy Updates


    Additional Resources Related to the Emergency Sick Leave and FMLA provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act:
    Employers with fewer than 500 employees are bound by emergency provisions for paid sick leave and FMLA contained in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The Department of Labor recently released guidance on these provisions that outlines which employees are eligible, qualifying reasons for leave, and the duration of the leave. In addition, the IRS has published an FAQ document with respect to the tax credits available to help businesses offset the costs incurred by meeting the requirements of these provisions.

    EIDL and PPP Loan Updates
    If you believe either of these programs is right for your school, you should still apply as soon as possible. For PPP loans, you must apply through an SBA approved lender, so contact your bank to inquire. For EIDL loans, go to the SBA website to apply.

    We have been told that as of Thursday, April 9th, all Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funds authorized by the CARES Act had been committed, including the $10k advances, and that approximately 30% of the Paycheck Protection Program Loan (PPP) funds had been committed. But there is a significant push to authorize additional funding for both of these programs, so you should get in the queue. Here's a side by side comparison of both loan programs. Additional resources regarding PPP loans can be found here.
     Also note that:

    • Processing times and documentation requirements for PPP loans are varying by lender; don't panic if you haven't heard back yet.
    • The loan papers you receive from your lender may not make any mention of the possibility of loan forgiveness. The forgiveness has to be approved by the Small Business Administration so your lender's documents will likely be written to assume repayment until otherwise authorized.

    Education Stabilization Fund
    The CARES Act created  a $30.75 billion dollar Education Stabilization Fund to support K-12 schools, Institutes of Higher Education, and other educational entities. For one component of this fund, the Governor's Emergency Relief Fund, state allocations have been made and the application is now available for governors to apply. Governor's Emergency Relief funds can be distributed to school districts, Institutes of Higher Education, and other education related entities within the State. We recently released an overview of the Education Stabilization Fund along with steps you can take to prepare and advocate now regarding how these funds will be distributed within your state:

    • Private schools can write to their governor highlighting the number of children served by private schools and note that they will need funding to ensure those students continue to be well-served. Coordinating with your state advocacy group to send a single, collaborative letter may be most effective.
    • Freestanding TEP's can write to remind their governor of the role they play in the state's educational landscape and the need for funding to support services to currently enrolled students; partnering with other TEP's in your state to create a collaborative joint letter may be most effective.

    AMS Executive Director Search
    AMS is conducting a search for its next Executive Director. Applications are being accepted through Jun 15, 2020. For more information about the opportunity and application process, click here.

     

    April 13 - COVID-19 Updates: Wage Claims From Taking Temps, OSHA Recordkeeping, Wrongful Death and Illness Lawsuits, and Union Abrogation Obligations


    Fisher Phillips: Legal Alert

    COVID-19 Updates: Wage Claims From Taking Temps, OSHA Recordkeeping, Wrongful Death and Illness Lawsuits, and Union Abrogation Obligations


    How To Avoid Wrongful Death And Injury Claims For Workplace COVID-19 Exposure

    Employers are starting to be served with wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits alleging an employee’s exposure to COVID-19 at work should lead to employer liability, despite the general rule that the workers’ compensation system is the exclusive remedy for such claims. Plaintiffs’ attorneys are ignoring or bypassing such statutes to achieve higher and quicker payouts for their clients. As these claims begin to reach the news, you can be sure that an increasing number of lawsuits will be filed in the coming days, weeks, and months.

    READ MORE ›


    Measuring Worker Temperatures Could Lead To Wage And Hour Claims

    Employers could face potential wage and hour claims under federal and state law if they do not compensate employees for time spent having their body temperatures checked. While federal COVID-19 guidance allows employers to measure employees’ body temperatures without fear of violating disability law, that guidance does not address wage and hour compliance – and this is definitely new territory for the nation’s employers.

    READ MORE ›


    OSHA Provides Recordkeeping Guidance To Employers For COVID-19 Cases

    The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration just issued guidance for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements for COVID-19 cases. OSHA recordkeeping requirements mandate covered employers record certain work-related injuries and illnesses on their OSHA 300 log.

    READ MORE ›


    Unionized Covid-19 Loan Recipients Face Troubling Non-Abrogation Commitment

    In an increasingly desperate business climate, thousands of businesses are expected to apply for emergency loans created by the Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) – but unionized employers may want to think twice before walking this path. Certain commitments necessary to secure these loans– including a commitment not to abrogate existing collective bargaining agreements – could impact your labor relations strategy well beyond the course of the COVID–19 emergency.

    READ MORE ›



    April 13 - Special ICNS Report


    The Illinois State Board of Education has published on April 10th  two emergency rules that will likely effect some of our members.  An emergency rule is good for 150 days only and started March 27th, 2020.


    First Emergency Rule published in the Illinois Register on April 10th starts on page 5917 (see link below) is for Nonpublic Special Education Placement of Public School Students to allow for  nonpublic schools to continue to invoice school districts and that school districts shall continue to pay the per diem approved by the Illinois Purchased Care Review Board.


    Second Emergency Rule published in the Illinois Register on April 10th starts on page 5924 (see link below) "allows currently funded early childhood block grant programs that voluntarily choose to provide care for  children of essential workers to use funds in excess of what is necessary for the program to provide at-home materials for children in the program and to purchase supplies and equipment while caring for children of essential workers."

     

    April 9 - CAPE Update: Education Stabilization Fund Items

     

    April 9 - LEGAL ALERTS: New CDC Return-To-Work Guidance, and Paycheck Protection Loan FAQs


    Fisher Phillips: Legal Alert


    CDC Significantly Relaxes Essential Worker Return-To-Work Standards After COVID-19 Exposure

    The Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) significantly relaxed its previous guidance on returning critical infrastructure workers to work after being potentially exposed to COVID-19. The relaxed guidelines, issued late yesterday, now allow critical infrastructure workers potentially exposed to COVID-19 to continue to work following exposure provided they remain symptom-free and employers implement additional precautions to protect the employee and the community. What are the key issues employers need to know about?

    READ MORE ›


    CDC’s Updated Return-To-Work Standards May Be Helpful To Businesses

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides much-needed economic relief to businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. However, this much-needed relief comes with great confusion, particularly for small businesses aiming to take advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

    READ MORE ›



    April 7 - New SBA Guidance on PPP

     

    April 7 - IDPH: Guidance on the Use of Masks by the General Public

    Guidance on the Use of Masks by the General Public

    SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that has emerged and caused coronavirus disease (abbreviated as COVID-19). Public health experts continue to learn about COVID-19, but based on current data and similar coronaviruses, the virus is believed to be spread between close contacts via respiratory droplets or contact with contaminated surfaces. While staying home, social distancing, and strict hand hygiene are still preferred methods for preventing further spread of COVID-19, facemasks are one more tool that may be used by the general public and essential workers to protect each other from respiratory droplets produced when we cough, sneeze, or talk.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. CDC also advises the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

    The most effective measures for preventing further spread of COVID-19 remain staying home when you are sick, maintain physical separation between other people while out in public (at least 6 feet), and frequently washing your hands with either soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

    When to Wear a Mask
    All Illinoisans should wear as mask or face covering when they must leave their home or report to work for essential operations and they either cannot or it is impractical to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between themselves and others. Examples include:

    • Shopping at essential businesses, like grocery stores or pharmacies,
    • Picking up food from the drive thru or curbside pickup,
    • While visiting your health care provider,
    • Traveling on public transportation,
    • Interacting with customers, clients, or coworkers at essential businesses,
    • Performing essential services for state and local government agencies, such as laboratory testing, where close interactions with other people are unavoidable, and
    • When feeling sick, coughing, or sneezing.

    Those who are staying home and have no close contacts that are infected with COVID-19 don’t need a mask while at home. Provided you do so alone or with close, household contacts, other situations that don’t require a mask or face covering include running or walking in your neighborhood, mowing the lawn, performing spring yard cleanup, gardening, driveway car washing, and other outdoor activities on your own property. Nevertheless we must be intentional about avoiding crowds and social distancing so we can enjoy physical connections later.

    By following this guidance when you must leave your home, you will reduce your fellow citizen’s exposure to respiratory droplets and infectious particles, and they yours. This will protect all of us.


    Best Practices for Homemade Masks or Face Coverings
    Best practices for making and wearing homemade masks include:

    • Using materials available at home or buying materials online to avoid exposure in public places.
    • Purchasing masks made by small businesses, saving medical masks for health care workers and potentially helping the local economy.
    • Making masks from materials that will hold up to daily washing and drying. Wash and dry newly sewn masks before using them for the first time.
    • Having more than one mask per person so they can be laundered daily. This will also be helpful if your mask becomes wet, damaged, or no longer fits and you need to replace it.
    • Washing your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water before putting on a mask, immediately after removing it, or if you touch the mask while using it.
    • The mask should fit snugly around your mouth and nose. A metal wire sewn or built into the mask will help it conform to the bridge of your nose.
    • Avoiding touching the mask while using it. If you do wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
    • There are relatively few studies of the effectiveness of masks made from homemade materials. Whether you use cotton fabrics, paper-based shop towels, or other materials, try to strike a balance between the materials you already have at home, how easy it will be to breathe while wearing the mask for extended periods away from home, and whether or not you would prefer to craft a new mask every day (paper) or wash and reuse your mask(s).
    • Replacing your mask when wet, damaged or it no longer fits your face. Masks should not be worn damp or when wet from spit or mucus.
    • Try to avoid touching the outer surface of the mask when removing it. Remove the mask by untying it or unfastening the ear loops. Place it in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until it can be laundered.

    This does not replace but enhances other IDPH guidance concerning social distancing and universal masking in congregate living facilities.

    How do I care for my mask?

    It’s a good idea to wash your mask or face covering at least daily. Place your used masks in a bag or bin away from small children or pets until they can be laundered with detergent and dried on a hot cycle. If you need to remove and reuse your mask before washing, consider putting it in a plastic or paper bag (not your backpack or purse) and be mindful not to put the mask where others can touch it or where the mask will contaminate other, shared surfaces. Wash your wash your hands immediately after putting it back on and avoid touching your face.

    Paper-based masks, like those crafted from shop towels, should be discarded after each use.

    How do can I make my own mask or face covering?
    There are a number of online resources, including the following, with instructions for making homemade masks and face coverings from cloth fabric or paper. You may even be able to use a 3D Printer with open source designs if you have one at home.

    CDC DIY Cloth Face Coverings (April 4) – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html

    CDC Recommendations for Cloth Face Covers – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover.html

    U.S. Surgeon General How to Make Your Own Face Covering (YouTube) – https://youtu.be/tPx1yqvJgf4

    CDC Cloth Face Covers FAQ – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cloth-face-cover-faq.html

    Pennsylvania Department of Public Health Guidance on Homemade Masks during COVID-19

    California Department of Public Health – https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/Face-Coverings-Guidance.aspx

    Minnesota Department of Health Interim Guidance on Alternative Facemasks – http://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/hcp/masksalt.pdf

    New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Face Coverings FAQ –https://www1.nyc.gov/assets/doh/downloads/pdf/imm/covid-19-face-covering-faq.pdf

    National Institutes of Health 3D Print Exchange – https://3dprint.nih.gov/collections/covid-19-response

    JOANNE Fabric Stores – https://www.joann.com/make-to-give-response/

    Easy No-Sew Shop Towel Mask (YouTube) – https://youtu.be/mai-UqdNRi8

    Coronavirus Tips: How to make a mask without sewing (YouTube) – https://youtu.be/t7oE65D4jGkCoron


     

    April 7 - News on Paycheck Protection Program from U.S. Senate Majority Leader




    For Immediate Release, Tuesday, April 7, 2020
    Contacts: David Popp, Doug Andres, Robert Steurer, Stephanie Penn

    McConnell Statement on Additional Funding for Paycheck Protection Program


    ‘Even as the CARES Act continues to come online, one such need is already clear: The small-business Paycheck Protection Program needs more funding. This bold legislation from Chairman Marco Rubio, Chairman Susan Collins, Senator Ben Cardin, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen is providing emergency liquidity to Main Street businesses nationwide to keep paychecks coming.’


    WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) issued the following statement today regarding additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program:

     

    “Twelve days ago, the Senate passed the largest rescue package in American history. Our bipartisan CARES Act provided more than $2 trillion in relief for workers and families, resources for hospitals and healthcare providers, and emergency lending to blunt mass layoffs and help workers continue to get paid.

    “As the Administration works to implement this historic legislation and push money out the door, Senate Republicans believe any potential further action will need to be tailored to the actual needs of our nation, not plucked off preexisting partisan wish lists.

     

    “Even as the CARES Act continues to come online, one such need is already clear: The small-business Paycheck Protection Program needs more funding. This bold legislation from Chairman Marco Rubio, Chairman Susan Collins, Senator Ben Cardin, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen is providing emergency liquidity to Main Street businesses nationwide to keep paychecks coming.


    In just a few days, this program has become overwhelmingly popular. Thanks to the hard work of small businesses and lenders, billions of dollars have already landed and tens of billions more are already in the pipeline. Jobs are literally being saved as we speak. But it is quickly becoming clear that Congress will need to provide more funding or this crucial program may run dry. That cannot happen. Nearly 10 million Americans filed for unemployment in just the last two weeks. This is already a record-shattering tragedy and every day counts. 


    Congress needs to act with speed and total focus to provide more money for this uncontroversial bipartisan program. I will work with Secretary Mnuchin and Leader Schumer and hope to approve further funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by unanimous consent or voice vote during the next scheduled Senate session on Thursday.


    April 7 - MPPI: Recording of PPP Loan Q&A Zoom



    A recording of today's zoom Q&A about the Paycheck Protection Program loans (PPP) is available here. Since time is of the essence, we wanted to hold the session as quickly as possible and therefore there is no accompanying slide deck. As such, we have simply shared the audio file. Please feel free to contact us with any questions.

    More information on SBA loans and other components of recent COVID-19 legislation can be found in a dedicated section of our website.

    For resources and information delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to MPPI's email list.

     

    April 5 - Webinar - Child Care Business Resources: COVID-19




    Greetings,

     

    Please join the Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) on Monday, April 6th at 10:00 AM for a webinar on Child Care Business Resources: COVID-19. 

     

    This webinar will feature opening remarks from IDHS's Secretary Hou and GOECD's Acting Executive Director Dr. Jor'dan, as well as important updates on new federal and state resources to support operations during this COVID-19 State of Emergency. Click here to register for Monday's webinar.

     

    Click here for draft slides of Monday's presentation and here for a toolkit of child care provider resources. 

     

    If you are unable to join at the time of the webinar or if the webinar reaches capacity, the final PowerPoint slides, a recording of the webinar, and an updated version of the  toolkit will be posted to the GOECD website after the webinar under "Business Resources" in the "Resources for Child Care Providers" section of the webpage. 

     

    Application information for the Paycheck Protection Program is currently available on the U.S. Department of Treasury website.

     

    Feel free to share this with your networks. 


     

    April 3 - PPP Loan Clarifications and Delays



    Some Delays with Applying for Paycheck Protection Program Loans


    Last night the Small Business Administration released Interim Final Rules for the Paycheck Protection Program loans established by the CARES Act. Financial institutions are working to review the rules, update their processes and paperwork accordingly, and are awaiting additional information regarding documentation that will be required. As such, even though applying for a loan was supposed to be viable starting today, most banks are not yet taking applications. If you have not already, you should get in touch with an SBA approved lender and get on their list so that you receive information on when they will open their portal to take applications; some are currently expecting they will be able to take applications online beginning Monday, April 6th, though that could change depending on when SBA releases further information.

    Some information has been clarified and defined in this guidance:
    • The interest rate for any portion of the loan that is deemed not forgivable will be 1% (previous information said .5%)
    • The loan terms are set at 2 years (the CARES Act allows for up to 10 years, but SBA has set it at 2)
    • The proceeds of a PPP loan are to be used for:
      1. payroll costs (as defined in the Act and in 2.f.)
        • note there are some exclusions, such as salary amounts in excess of $100,000
      2. costs related to the continuation of group health care benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and insurance premiums
      3. mortgage interest payments (but not mortgage prepayments or principal payments)
      4. rent payments
      5. utility payments
      6. interest payments on any other debt obligations that were incurred before February 15, 2020
    • Borrowers will not have to make payments during the first 6 months of the loan, but interest still accrues during that time
    • Not more than 25% of the loan forgiveness amount may be attributable to non-payroll costs.
    Applicants will have to attest to a number of items which can be seen in the application in the "Certifications" section.

    This guidance is currently silent on the issue of whether recipients of PPP loans will be deemed direct recipients of federal financial assistance.

    We will work to post additional information as it becomes available.



    April 3 - ISBE - Remote Learning Recommendations in Spanish, Zoom Policies for Schools, Assistive Technology, All in Illinois


    Dear Colleagues: 

     

    Thank you to all of the school principals who participated in today’s webinars. Your questions and concerns proved yet again that you’re keeping your eyes on our shared goals of prioritizing our students, families, and communities. I appreciate the kindness and respect that characterize our conversations as we work through the pop quizzes presented by this COVID-19 pandemic. 

     

    I’m pleased to tell you the Spanish version of the Remote Learning Recommendations is posted on our COVID-19 webpage and linked here. We anticipate sharing the Polish and Arabic translations tomorrow and hope these resources can help you reach your families equitably. 

     

    Ever mindful of the fact that many families rely on our schools for nutrition, ISBE is working in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services to provide extra funding to families whose children qualify for free or reduced priced meals. We will ask tomorrow that you take steps to verify that all students who qualify for free and reduced-price meals or have a low-income indicator have been entered into the Student Information System (SIS). Some students’ circumstances may have changed, and we need to ensure that all students whose families could benefit from these much-needed funds have the opportunity to access them. Please look for additional instructions tomorrow. 

     

    Many of you have reached out to our agency with questions regarding educator candidates and asking how those pursuits will be affected by the suspension of in-person instruction. I want to assure you that ISBE is pursuing policy changes that will enable program candidates including student teachers, school service personnel, principals, superintendents, and people in subsequent endorsement programs to still receive licensure this spring and summer, despite building closures that may have prohibited classroom experience from being earned, and despite testing center closures statewide that may prevent educators from completing requisite testing.

     

    We will provide official guidance regarding the edTPA, student teaching/internships, clinical hours required for endorsements, and testing timelines as soon as we are able. In the meantime, please assure candidates that ISBE is actively pursuing policy changes to ensure their ability to be licensed this spring/summer and to gain employment this fall is not negatively impacted. 

     

    As many districts become reliant on Zoom in remote learning environments, the company’s CEO Eric Yuan has responded to recent hacking incidents by updating the service’s privacy policies and creating special protections and special features for use by schools. Among these new features is the ability to “lock” the door of your virtual classroom and to remove any unwanted participants. Yuan has pledged to hold weekly chats focused on privacy and security issues and to spend the next few months engineering further improvements. 

     

    We are keenly aware of the challenges that may arise during the implementation of remote learning, especially for students with disabilities. The Illinois Assistive Technology Program (IATP), located in Springfield, helps school districts with special education technology needs and with purchasing assistive technology devices in bulk. To contact IATP, please visit www.iltech.org or call Lynette at (217) 522-7985. 

     

    I am also grateful to my staff in the special education department here at ISBE, who have been invited by the organization The Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education to provide training on holding mediation sessions virtually, using Zoom and DocuSign. These unprecedented circumstances come with unexpected challenges, but every time I look around, I see Illinois educators leading the state and leading the country with creative ideas and eagerness to extend help to others. 

     

    Governor Pritzker today launched a new effort to reinforce the message that we should all stay home and stay safe. The campaign is called “All in Illinois,” to remind us that we’re all in this together.  

     

    “I’ve taken virtually every action available to me to protect our residents and slow the spread, and now, our strongest weapon against COVID-19 is you,” the Governor said. “For everyone in Illinois, we as individuals must commit to stay home, stay safe and practice social distancing to stay healthy.” 

     

    You can show your solidarity by updating your Facebook profile photo with the All in Illinois frame image, or by sharing messages on social media using the #AllinIllinois hashtag. If you’d like to download an “All In” sign to display in a window, you can download one here. 

     

    By now, you know how much I live for stories of superheroes (also known as teachers) taking care of students during this scary time. Today, we saw a Facebook post from a mom who has a son in 9th grade at Vernon Hills High School. He’s struggling with algebra, so his teacher, Jennifer Tye, instructed the mom to have her son to go stand in the driveway. Within 10 minutes, Ms. Tye appeared at the end of the driveway (safely more than six feet away) with a white board and markers, to give the freshman a distance algebra lesson.  

     

    Thank you. Keep up the great work. 

     

    Sincerely, 

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 
    Illinois State Board of Education



    April 3 - Congress Passes COVID-19 Legislation Affecting Private Schools


    Congress Takes Action on Coronavirus

    In the month of March, Congress passed legislation responding to the coronavirus crisis in three "phases." The phase 2 and 3 bills in particular included language of interest to private schools.

    The following are some highlights of what Congress has passed in recent days, but is by no means an exhaustive list of the programs affecting private schools and other employers.

    Education Stabilization Fund: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund

    On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed "phase 3" COVID-19 relief legislation carrying an unprecedented $2 trillion price tag, which is larger than the federal government’s entire annual budget for discretionary spending and is roughly one-tenth the size of the American economy. Included in this package is $13.5 billion in grants to states for K-12 schools, part of a broader "Education Stabilization Fund."

    The law requires equitable services to be provided to private schools under this program.

    The legislation lists twelve categories of permissible uses of the funds hereState Educational Agencies (SEAs) and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) should not begin making plans for the dispersal of these funds until the US Department of Education releases guidance on implementation of the new law, which is expected in the coming days.

    Education Stabilization Fund: Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund

    The Education Stabilization Fund in the phase 3 bill, or "CARES Act," also includes $3 billion for governors to provide emergency support to schools most impacted by coronavirus. The law requires equitable services to be provided to private schools under this program as well. USDE guidance is forthcoming, but in the meantime, private schools should work with their State CAPEs to ensure that governors are aware of their needs.

    Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)

    One piece of the CARES Act that is receiving a tremendous amount of attention is its Paycheck Protection Program. The new law provides $350 billion for federally guaranteed loans to small employers (under 500 employees), nonprofits are eligible. The portion of the loan used for maintaining payroll has the potential to be forgiven.

    According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): "You can apply through any existing SBA 7(a) lender or through any federally insured depository institution, federally insured credit union, and Farm Credit System institution that is participating. Lenders may begin processing loan applications as soon as April 3, 2020." It is expected that loans will be disbursed on a first come, first served basis. A sample application form can be found here.

    Since passage of the CARES Act, private school advocates have argued that Small Business Administration guidance is needed to clarify:

    1) Whether use of these loans will lead to recipient of "federal financial assistance" status and the obligations that come with that;

    2) Whether these loans can be used to pay the salaries of teachers involved in religious instruction; and

    3) In the case of Catholic schools, whether the 500 employee limit will be based on the number of employees at a particular school or the number of employees in the diocese.

    On April 2, the Treasury Department released guidance which references certain religious liberty protections (see pages 27-28) and announces that further guidance on religious liberty will be released "promptly."

    Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)

    Congress expanded the already existing Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to include a $10,000 advance. According to the Small Business Administration, "In response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, small business owners in all U.S. states, Washington D.C., and territories are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds will be made available within three days of a successful application, and this loan advance will not have to be repaid."

    In the past, religious organizations have not been eligible for the EIDL program. SBA guidance is needed on this question, as well as whether acceptance of these funds will lead to recipient of "federal financial assistance" status.

    This Sherman & Howard one-pager may be of help in distinguishing between the PPL and EIDL programs.

    Unemployment Insurance

    The CARES Act includes emergency unemployment insurance benefits for individuals affected by the pandemic. If a nonprofit fully participates in its state’s unemployment benefits program, its employees will be eligible for $600 per week in addition to regular unemployment compensation under state law, as well a possible extension of time for provision of unemployment benefits.

    If a nonprofit does not pay state unemployment insurance tax, but reimburses the state for unemployment benefits paid upon the termination of an employee, it will be eligible to receive 50% of the amount reimbursed to the state. Its employees will also be eligible for the additional $600 per week, as well as a possible extension of time for provision of unemployment benefits.

    If a nonprofit neither pays state unemployment insurance tax nor reimburses the state for unemployment benefits paid upon the termination of an employee, the nonprofit does not receive any benefits under the CARES Act, but its laid-off employees will be eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from the federal government at no cost to the employer.

    Partial Above-the-Line Deduction for Charitable Contributions

    The CARES Act permits a deduction of up to $300 for cash contributions to charitable organizations, whether taxpayers itemize their deductions or not.

    Emergency Sick Leave and Emergency Family & Medical Leave

    On March 18, 2020, the president signed Congress' "phase 2" coronavirus relief bill, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. It creates a national paid sick leave law and expands the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), a CAPE member organization, has posted this very helpful explanation of the new paid sick leave and FMLA provisions.



    April 2 - Governor's Order Extending Stay at Home


    View the language of

    EXECUTIVE ORDER IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 (COVID-19 EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 16)

    https://www2.illinois.gov/Pages/Executive-Orders/ExecutiveOrder2020-18.aspx

    Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced he will extend the state's stay-at-home order until the end of April as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

    Read Pritzker's full statement from Tuesday below as provided by the governor's office to NBC5 News:

    Good afternoon. I’m joined again today by Mayor Lori Lightfoot and by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. We also have two special guests with us, Brad Cole, Executive Director of the Illinois Municipal League and Tim Drea, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO.

    To the thousands of people across the state who have been joining us every day via livestream – welcome back. And to anyone joining for the first time, thank you for your desire to get factual information on what’s happening here in Illinois. To our reporters – thank you for your commitment to truth and accuracy.

    Folks: I know this journey is an extraordinarily difficult one – personally, financially, emotionally. I know that when I signed our Disaster Proclamation on March 9th, when restaurants and bars closed on March 16th, when schools suspended on-site learning on March 17th, when the Stay at Home order took effect on March 21st – each step we have been forced to take by this pandemic has made things more challenging for our residents. The cascading consequences of these steps weigh on me every minute of every day.

    But as I’ve said since the beginning, my priority through each and every one of these decisions has been – and continues to be – saving as many people’s lives as possible. That’s the one goal I will put above all others, every time.

    Most critically, I have let the science guide our decisions. I’ve relied upon the top medical experts, scientists, public health researchers, epidemiologists, mathematicians and modelers, from the greatest institutions in the world like University of Illinois, Northwestern, University of Chicago, SIU, and others whose guidance on infection rates and potential mortalities and protective measures is second to none.

    It is based upon that advice that tomorrow, I will be signing an Executive Order to extend Illinois’ Disaster Proclamation, Stay Home order, and suspension of on-site learning at schools through the end of the month of April.

    If we can end these orders earlier, I’ll be the first to tell you when we can start to make strides toward normal again.

    But that time is not today, and it’s not April 7th. Illinois has one of the strongest public health systems in the nation – but even so, we aren’t immune to this virus’ ability to push our existing capacity beyond its limits. We need to maintain our course and keep working to flatten the curve.

    Here’s what we know: As of March 30, our preliminary reports from hospitals statewide show just 41 percent of our adult ICU beds are “empty” – staffed and ready for immediate patient use, a two percentage point decrease from the moment-in-time numbers I ran you through last week. And 68% of our ventilators are available statewide – a four percentage point drop in a week. That doesn’t mean every hospital has that availability, but collectively that’s what we have across the state.

    Statewide, about 35 percent of our total ICU beds are now occupied by COVID patients and about 24 percent of our total vents are occupied by COVID patients. We are still within our capacity, and we are working every day to acquire new vents or convert alternate use vents to increase that capacity – but from all the models that we’ve seen, our greatest risk of hitting capacity isn’t now, but weeks from now. This virus’ spread is growing – so are its risks. We must not let up.

    I’ll remind everyone that these interventions don’t work if they’re piecemeal across the state. It was only a few weeks back when we had just a handful of cases all in one county. That’s up to 5994 across 54 counties – and we know that there are even more people out there who have contracted COVID-19 and already recovered without realizing it, or recovered at home and never qualified for a test. That’s true in all 50 states – and that’s the price we all will continue to pay from the lack of early, robust national testing. So we have to stick to the knowledge we have: no community is immune.

    To that point, I want to discuss our efforts to keep our Department of Corrections facilities as safe and socially distanced as possible to minimize the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, DOC is at its smallest population since 1995, with 36,944 individuals. That’s 1,069 fewer prisoners than on February 1. On March 14th, early in the process of my issuing executive orders addressing COVID-19, to reduce the spread of the virus DOC suspended all visits, moved all facilities to administrative quarantine, and ensured access to hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to all staff and incarcerated individuals. IEMA and IDPH have made multiple deliveries of PPE to the DOC, totaling over 160,000 N95 masks, over 200,000 surgical masks, and tens of thousands of gloves, and DOC is sending an additional shipment to Stateville today. 

    DOC has been reviewing the case files of as many low risk offenders as possible for early release during this crisis, with nearly 300 more released as of 1pm today. This has included some of our female inmates who are pregnant or were in our women and babies program, as well as low level offenders at the end of their sentences. All have been thoroughly vetted to make sure there are no histories of violence and particularly domestic violence, and all had homes to return to. I should note that places to reside for exiting offenders are one of our greatest challenges: we need to ensure that each person released in this manner has a place to return to, and those arrangements are more difficult for exiting offenders during these challenging times.

    We are working hard to balance the need to free up as much space in our prisons as possible with making sure we are not releasing those who may pose a risk to their communities.  Every step we take with regards to our prison population needs to solve an existing problem – not create a new one.



    April 2 - Side by Side Comparison of SBA COVID-19 Loan Programs


    April 2 - CAPE letter on CARES Act Guidance

     

    April 2 - What Employers Need to Know About Department of Labor, IRS, and CDC Latest Pronouncements


    Fisher Phillips: Legal Alert


    An Employer’s Step-By-Step Guide To COVID-19-Related Tax Credits For Paid Leave

    The Internal Revenue Service just provided an initial guidance document to assist small- and medium-sized companies with the process of defraying the costs of paid sick leave required under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Of immediate importance to employers, the IRS provided some guidance regarding what information you should receive from an employee in order to substantiate eligibility for the FFCRA tax credits.

    READ MORE ›


    CDC’s Updated Return-To-Work Standards May Be Helpful To Businesses

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided updated guidance on when a person with COVID-19 may discontinue home isolation, offering a more flexible standard that could help employers and employees manage absences during this uncertain time.

    READ MORE ›


    Top 10 Things Employers Need To Know About DOL’s New COVID-19 Rules

    The U.S. Department of Labor issued a new rule yesterday to regulate the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) and the paid leave programs that just became law on April 1, 2020. We’ve digested the 124-page document and picked out the 10 things employers need to know about the new rule. We suggest those unfamiliar with the Emergency Paid Sick Leave (EPSL) and Emergency FMLA (EFMLA) programs read our summary here first, along with our two subsequent alerts (available here and here) summarizing some of the clarifying guidance released by the agency in the past few weeks.

    READ MORE ›



    April 1 - Prepare Now to Apply for a PPP Loan for Your School





    Preparing for Paycheck Protection Program Loans (PPP)


    We've posted more extensive information on the forgivable Small Business loans generated under the CARES Act here. But we wanted to provide you with summary information and steps you should take ASAP if you are considering applying for one of these loans.

     

    The following is not an exhaustive list as guidance on PPP loans is still forthcoming. However, since applications will be taken starting Friday, April 3, 2020, we have outlined below steps you can take now to gather information you will likely need to apply for a Paycheck Protection Program Loan along with considerations as you decide whether or not to apply.
     

    Prepare Now


    Applications can be submitted beginning Friday, April 3rd.


    • You must apply through a financial institution that is approved by the SBA.
      • Contact your bank as soon as possible and ask if they are an approved lender. IF so, let them know that you are interested in applying and ask what the process is (if known) or ask them to put you on their list of people to notify once they have the final application and list of required documents.
      • If they are not an approved lender, contact other banks in your area or visit www.sba.gov for a list of lenders.
    • Gather required documentation (and scan it if it’s not already electronic)
      • The SBA has not yet released a list of the documents that will be required to accompany loan applications, but different financial institutions are compiling lists of suggested items. Some of the lists we have seen include:
        • Articles of Incorporation
        • By-laws
        • Documentation supporting who is authorized to enter into agreements on behalf of the applicant (if other than by-laws, articles of incorporation)
        • Board resolution authorizing loan request
        • 941s for the last four quarters (Employer’s Federal Tax Returns)
        • 940 from 2019 (Employer’s Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return)
        • 2019 Forms 1099-MISC for independent contractors
        • Recent payroll register
        • Recent health insurance bill
        • 12-month financials (period ending 2/29/2020 or 3/31/2020)
        • 2 most recent 990s
        • 2 most recent audited financial statements
    • Work with your bookkeeper/accounting/payroll firm to calculate your average monthly payroll as that figure will be used to calculate the maximum loan amount.


    Considerations


    The following list is high-level. For more specificity especially with regards to what can and cannot be included in payroll costs and loan forgiveness requirements, consult this resource from the Bipartisan Policy Center


    • Businesses with 500 or fewer employees are eligible to apply.
    • Loans can be used for
      • Payroll costs, including benefits
      • Rent
      • Utilities
      • Interest on mortgage obligations
    • Loans can be forgiven if:
      • You do not use funds for anything other than the above expenses
        • It is likely that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount will be allowed to be non-payroll costs
      • You do not lay off staff or cut wages more than 25% for any employee that made less than $100,000 during 2019
    • Any amount that is not deemed forgivable will have a .5% interest rate, with no payments due for 6 months, though interest will accrue during that period.
    • We still do not have definitive guidance on whether recipients of PPP loans will be considered direct recipients of federal financial assistance, which would trigger various federal laws from which private schools are otherwise exempt, but our best analysis to date is that they will not be..
    • Loans will be first come first served and are expected to be oversubscribed.

     
    For technical assistance consider contacting your area Small Business Development Center.


     

    April 1 - ISBE - Attendance, Student Privacy, Mental Health & ISBE's New Podcast


    Dear Colleagues:

     

    We continue our transition into Remote Learning Days, and we appreciate your patience as we work together through issues like attendance, student privacy, and social-emotional health. 

     

    We recognize the importance of checking student engagement/attendance to help monitor which students may need additional support in accessing instruction. School districts have flexibility in determining the best method for measuring student engagement/attendance locally, such as completion of assignments, log ins, emails, phone calls, and other check ins.  

     

    During these unprecedented times, our main concern is the connectedness and care for our students and one another as we maintain continuity of learning. If a child who attended school prior to the suspension of in-person instruction has not been reachable, please attempt to contact a parent/guardian. ISBE encourages districts to account for every student who is enrolled.  

     

    We have updated our comprehensive FAQ with this information on attendance, as well as information on remote learning, Remote Learning Days, transportation, school construction, at www.isbe.net/Documents/FAQ-4-1-20.pdf.  

     

    Remote learning also requires us to take precautions to ensure we protect all students’ personally identifying information and raises many questions about student privacy. For example: can you allow visitors (such as parents) in your virtual classroom? Can you record virtual classes for students who aren’t able to “attend”? Can you conduct a candid parent-teacher conference with a family online while your spouse is nearby and can overhear? These issues and many others are addressed in a recent webinar from the U.S. Department of Education that you can see here.   

     

    Most importantly, we all need to guard the health of our families, both physically and mentally. You can find a wealth of resources to reassure students coping with scary situations, help adults talk to children about COVID-19, and learn to manage anxiety and stress through ISBE’s new mental health webpage

     

    Don’t forget that today is National Census Day! Getting everyone counted in this decennial census is vitally important to determine Illinois’ share of certain federal funding streams as well as the number of votes Illinois gets in the Electoral College and in the U.S. House of Representatives.  

     

    The census also presents us with the perfect opportunity for remote learning lessons in math, civics, social studies, government, history, literature, and even art! We encourage you to be creative and proactive in helping your students and your community understand and appreciate the importance of the census. 

     

    You can get more information about the census in the debut episode of our ISBE podcast. It’s 22 minutes long – just the right length for walking your dog. I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to sharing more through this new avenue of celebrating and supporting your efforts.  

     

    Sincerely,  

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education  
    Illinois State Board of Education


     

    April 1 - ISBE - Extension of Remote Learning through April 30 & CARES Act


    Dear Colleagues:

     

    Today, Governor JB Pritzker announced that Illinois will continue its suspension of in-person instruction for another 30 days, through April 30. Governor Pritzker addressed students directly today, saying:

     

    “I won't try and tell you that texting and calling each other is the same as hanging out in the hallways or in the lunchroom. And I won't try and tell you that a Zoom prom is the same as a real prom. I won't try and tell you not to be sad about the lost goals and plans that you may have had for March and April. It's okay to be sad. And if you do feel sad or frustrated or angry, whatever you feel, please let yourself feel that way. Don't beat yourself up over being human. And if you're experiencing overwhelming anxiety or you have a friend who is, and you need someone to talk to, there are resources available to you by phone and online through both ISBE and our Department of Human Services, as well as the city of Chicago.”

    The Governor went on to encourage students to find ways to be of service in this crisis, as so many of our educators and administrators are modeling for them. I second the Governor in saying that while we are in the midst of a scary and uncertain time, we are also experiencing “a lesson in the fundamental goodness of people.” 

     

    As the Governor announced today, schools are now transitioning from Act of God Days to Remote Learning Days. All these days count toward the school year, and absolutely no days need to be made up. Each district is required to create and implement a Remote Learning Day Plan to ensure all students, including students with disabilities and English Learners, receive instruction and can communicate with their teachers. Remote learning will look different for every district and every school. You can use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time to prepare and refine your approaches to remote learning.

     

    We expect your plans to be tailored to your own districts, but please include a check-in or some method of accurately tracking “attendance.” This data will help teachers gauge which students may need additional outreach or support to engage in learning. Building in flexibility and inclusivity (rather than hard and fast times and deadlines) could encourage student participation and result in more engagement and more accurate records. We will provide further guidance on how to submit this data to ISBE.

     

    I am also very happy to share with you that the President signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act into law this past Friday. The purpose of the CARES Act is to provide states with funding to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Local Education Agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, that received an allocation under Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in fiscal year 2020 are eligible for CARES Act funds. The amount of funds Illinois LEAs will be eligible for is based on the percentage of Title I, Part A allocated to the LEA in FY 2020.

     

    ISBE has developed estimates for LEAs to help you begin to plan at www.isbe.net/_layouts/Download.aspx?SourceUrl=https://www.isbe.net/Documents/Est-Prelim-CARES-Act-Emergency-Relief-LEA-Allocations-3-31-20.xlsx. We strongly encourage LEAs to explore using the additional funding to strengthen your infrastructure for remote learning. ISBE also will receive a funding amount as the State Education Agency, which we intend to make available to the LEAs in the greatest need to support students’ access to technology and the internet.

     

    The start date of the program has not yet been determined. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) must release an application within the next 27 days that will allow ISBE to have access to the funds. ISBE will complete the application as soon as it is made available and then submit it for approval by ED. Please find more information about the CARES Act at www.isbe.net/Documents/CARES-Act-District-Info-3-31-20.pdf. Please submit any questions about the CARES Act to IllinoisCARES@isbe.net.

     

    Illinois schools have stepped up and faced the many challenges of COVID-19 with generosity, creativity, and a resolute focus on caring for students and communities. You have shown remarkable agility in providing learning opportunities and meals throughout this crisis, giving students much needed connection and stability.

     

    I want to leave you with one example, from Marquardt School District 15, an elementary district in Glendale Heights. Last week, a social worker called one of their families and connected with a mom who had only half a loaf of bread left to feed five children. This mom had no transportation and no way to get to the grocery store. But thanks to the flexibility from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Marquardt district was able to deliver five days’ worth of food and milk to this family.

     

    Sandy Voss, the district’s director of food and nutrition services, who was also ISBE’s 2018 School Nutrition Champion, relayed the story to ISBE in an email. “This is a family that is trying to hold it together without an income, and while trying to continue to educate five children with limited resources and minimal food,” Sandy wrote. “I know this story sadly is not uncommon from what is happening around the state.”

     

    We know it too, and we are committed to doing everything we can so that none of Illinois’ families fall through the cracks. Please stay connected with your students and what’s going on with them at home, so that we can work together to stay in tune with their needs and find the best ways to address them.

     

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
    State Superintendent of Education
    Illinois State Board of Education


    April 1 - National COVID19 Trends and FAQ with NAIS Legal Counsel Megan Mann Webinar Resources


    Dear Colleagues,
     
    Thank you so much for your interest in the National COVID19 Trends and FAQ with NAIS Legal Counsel Megan Mann series today! Again, please send any questions to legal@nais.org and our team will review these and incorporate your questions into future webinars and resource document. There will also be an opportunity submit questions when you register for next week’s session.

    NAIS Resources:

    • Sharing Solutions, where you can post and browse school ideas and samples in areas such as distance learning, enrollment, and more
    • How to update your status on Google: Check your status online by doing a Google search and checking for a red status banner (often located in a box on the right side of the screen). If it lists “Closed” or “Temporarily Closed,” we recommend you follow the steps listed here. Ensure that hours are reflected accurately and push for a more accurate representation of the situation, especially during this critical enrollment time.

     

    Other Webinars and Meetups:
    • National COVID-19 Trends & FAQs: A Weekly Update with NAIS Legal Counsel series:
    • NAIS Meetups for Heads of School:

     

    COVID-19 Resource Pages from Law Firms

    **This is a non-exhaustive list of all resources available, and we do not endorse any particular counsel. Please consult an attorney directly for advice relating to your specific situation.

     
    Thank you so much again and please do not hesitate to reach out with anything!
     
    Best,
    Madelyn
     
     
    Madelyn Swift, Program Manager, Professional Development
    National Association of Independent Schools
    1129 20th Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC  20036-3425

    swift@nais.org | (202) 973-9754 | http://www.nais.org



    March 31 - A Letter from the AMS Board of Directors


    Dear AMS Community,

    As all of us respond to the public health crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic, the AMS Board of Directors has been confronted by many unprecedented circumstances and, accordingly, has taken many equally unprecedented and difficult actions in response.

    Over the past week, we have worked to strengthen the continuity of our organization’s operations to position us for future recovery. Our interim executive director, along with other staff and the board, are continuing to work with all our schools, teacher education programs, and other businesses, and we will persevere through this time of challenge as a united, strong, and compassionate community. We appreciate your forbearance as we all move forward through these uncertain times. We, like you, must make difficult decisions on a daily, sometimes hourly basis.

    We are aware of the extraordinary efforts you have made, and are continuing to make, to ensure the success of our students. We are extremely grateful. We know you work long hours and are doing extraordinary work to support online learning, along with other efforts to serve your communities. As members of our AMS family, you are the backbone of the organization and we want you to know that your welfare remains at the center of our concerns as a governing board.

    If you are not already aware of our COVID-19 Resources webpage, we invite you to visit it now. We update it daily; you might want to bookmark it. Please pay special attention to the callouts for our daily “AMS Connect Live!” Zoom sessions, and our AMS Connect bulletin boards. Activity on both has been robust, and you’ll want to be sure to be a part of them.

    During this time of uncertainty, we all find ourselves on a steep learning curve on many fronts. However, we can assure you that AMS board and staff are tracking and evaluating the latest developments worldwide and we couldn’t be prouder of how everyone in our community has responded during these challenging times.

    Every day we see clear evidence of how the AMS community has risen to the challenges set before us. board members and staff know the profound impact you are having in the lives of Montessori children and adult learners, serving as personal examples of leadership and integrity in a time of crisis, and continuing your role as compassionate educators dedicated to the work of Dr. Maria Montessori. Thank you for your continued support of AMS and our students.

    Sincerely,

    The AMS Board of Directors
    Munir Shivji, President | Amira D. Mogaji, Vice President


    March 31 - CAPE Update


    CAPE Email Masthead

    Here is the most recent update from CAPE as to the passed federal legislation for COVID-19 relief. Again, thank you to everyone who reached out to your Senators to press for private schools being included in this relief.



    March 31 - ISBE - Transportation Reimbursements & Beginning Our Remote Learning Journey Together


    Dear Colleagues: 

     

    I know I’m joined by millions of students and families across the state in saying how thankful we are for your hard work and inventiveness over these past two weeks. We now begin a new phase in Illinois education together as we transition from of Act of God Days into remote learning. I am so appreciative of your efforts, and I am committed to the Illinois State Board of Education continuing to serve as a conduit of guidance and support. 

     

    Our Remote Learning Recommendations and latest guidance document are available on the ISBE website at www.isbe.net/covid19 

     

    Illinois’ schools have found so many creative ways to meet students’ needs during this crisis. For example, Belleville Township High School uses buses to provide WiFi hotspots next to which families can park and download their students’ homework assignments. Lake Louise Elementary teachers recently “rode along” with school buses via a Chromebook set up by the bus door to greet their students (virtually, of course) when families got their meal delivery.  

     

    I am happy to report that ISBE filed emergency rules today to allow all transportation expenditures that support the health and well-being of Illinois prek-12 students – such as costs related to the distribution of food and instructional materials and the use of buses to provide WiFi – to be reimbursed by ISBE’s regular transportation reimbursement formula. These new rules, effective immediately, cover expenses incurred from March 17, 2020, through the end of the 2019-20 school year. Read the full text of the rules at www.isbe.net/Documents/23-120RG-E.pdf.

     

    These emergency rules recognize the unexpected and unprecedented hurdles we currently face – and the generosity and agility of Illinois’ educators in overcoming them. Serve Illinois also recognizes these herculean feats and announced one extraordinary educator as Illinois’ Volunteer of the Week. James DeLoach teaches math and science at York Alternative High School, which serves students at the Cook County Department of Corrections. In addition to teaching, Mr. DeLoach has volunteered at Lakeview Pantry in Chicago to ensure that those in need receive food swiftly and safely. According to Serve Illinois, Mr. DeLoach wears many hats for the food bank; he “organizes inventory, prepares the pantry for distribution by sorting and restocking, packs boxes for distribution, and overall helps to serve clients in need.” Thank you, Mr. DeLoach! 

     

    You all never cease to inspire me.  

    I will end tonight’s message with a reminder to please continue to check in with students to make sure they are okay. These connections – over the phone, over text, over email, or on video chat – are more meaningful and important than ever, now that students are out of physical presence and daily line of sight.

     

    Keep up the great work. I look forward to staying connected with you as we embark on our Remote Learning journey together. 

     

    Sincerely,  

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 
    Illinois State Board of Education  



    March 31 - Emergency Child Care Stipend Program & Additional COVID-19 Resources



    Greetings Early Learning Council Members and Friends, 

     

    We have some new COVID-19 information to share with you and your networks. 


    • The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) through the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) System is offering funds to assist child care programs that opt to open and provide child care for the children of essential workers. Click here for the Guidelines and Application for Child Care Programs.

    • The Emergency Child Care FAQs were updated with new information on 3/29/20. Answers updated since the original 3/25/20 version are highlighted in red within the document.

    As a friendly reminder, all of these resources can be found on the COVID-19 for Early Childhood and Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers pages on the GOECD website. Please revisit these pages often, as they are being updated daily as additional information becomes available.  

    Thank you,

     

    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    March 30 - MPPI Update: Resources



    Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.

    In the past two weeks, two massive pieces of legislation have been signed into law as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

    1. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act was passed on March 18th. It goes into effect April 1, 2020 and remains in effect through December 31, 2020. The two key provisions that impact schools pertain to Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave.
    2. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) was signed into law on March 27th. There are several key provisions that can support and impact schools, child-care centers and their employees including Small Business Administration loans, expanded unemployment benefits, and relief to schools.

    Please keep in mind that federal guidance is still forthcoming on the many provisions in these two massive pieces of legislation so information may still change. The resources below reflect the latest information we have been able to compile. We will continue to send regular bulletins as new or clarifying information becomes available. To get these updates straight to your inbox, sign up for our mailing list. Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions as you dig into this information.
     

    Unemployment Insurance Provisions in the CARES Act

    • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act was signed into law on March 27. Among its provisions are new Unemployment Insurance programs which are available across varying time frames. This bulletin from the National Employment Law Project lays out the details for each of these provisions.
    • The Bipartisan Policy Center and Committee for Economic Development have issued a brief regarding Unemployment Relief in the CARES Act. Even though the CARES Act is authorizing federal funds to support unemployment relief, it’s important to note that unemployment compensation programs are state run and these federal funds will be administered by each state. The BPC brief notes "Because each state operates its own unemployment compensation program, the unemployment compensation changes under the CARES Act will require each state (or territory) to enter into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor in order to receive federal funding to both administer the benefits and pay for the federal portion of the benefits...While it is likely, as unemployment claims increase, that all states will opt-in to the additional unemployment assistance, it is not required. Because state agreements may be submitted and approved at different times, and state capacity to implement the changes may differ, it is very likely that state implementation will vary. To compensate for staggered implementation, payment of benefits will be retroactive.”
    • An important note for non-profits: Non-profits have the option of paying into their state's unemployment on a regular basis, or  reimbursing the state for amounts paid to a former employee who is receiving unemployment. If your school is a non-profit and has chosen to be a reimbursable employer, the CARES Act contains a provision through which reimbursable employers can be reimbursed for half of the amounts paid to state unemployment between March 13, 2020, and December 31, 2020.

    Updated Information on Sick Leave and FMLA Provisions in the Families First Coronavirus Act

    • DOL Required Posting: Employers covered by these provisions (1-499 employees) will be required to post (and distribute to remote workers) this notification from the Department of Labor. 
    • The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) recently held a webinar regarding these provisions along with the provisions of the CARES Act, and the slide deck from the presentation is available here. It contains summary information as well as answers to several frequently asked questions.
    • For those who have referenced the Fisher Phillips webinar regarding Emergency Sick Leave and FMLA provisions of the Families First Coronavirus Act, there is an updated slide deck. Fisher Phillips issued the following notice along with the updated slide deck: “Thank you for attending our webinar, Families First Coronavirus Response Act:  Emergency Paid Sick Leave And Emergency FMLA For Private Schools, on March 26, 2020.  After producing the webinar, the Department of Labor issued guidance on some of the gray areas in the law that we mentioned on the webinar.  Given that, we have modified the slides to reflect these changes…You should use these slides and not the recorded version of the webinar that you may have received from our firm as you make decisions about the applicability of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law and/or the Emergency FMLA.” 
     

    March 30 - Emergency Child Care Stipend Program



    March 30, 2020

    In response to the unprecedented public health emergency that Illinois is facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19, Governor Pritzker is committed to supporting child care providers offering emergency child care to children of Essential Workers. The State is mindful that child care is a critical emergency service that is necessary for Essential Workers.  

    The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) through the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) System is offering one-time stipends to help defray additional costs that may be incurred by child care programs that opt to open and provide child care for the children of Essential Workers. We want to stress that these services should be provided only when Essential Workers have no other options available. The goal is to practice social distancing and for children to stay at home whenever possible.  

    Please review the attached Guidelines, Frequently Asked Questions, and Application in its entirety.  Read through the documents fully before asking questions. After you have read the documents, if you have questions contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency www.inccrra.org/about/sdasearch.  

    We are committed to supporting our child care providers through this health emergency, and appreciate all that you are doing to support children, families and your communities.


    Linda Saterfield, Interim Associate Director, Illinois Department of Human Services


    March 30 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act Information for Employees


    March 27 -  ISBE - Remote Learning Days Begin March 31


    Sending on behalf of State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala:

     

    Dear Colleagues:

     

    Fridays used to be the end of the week with nothing else on our school schedules except maybe a football game or a choir concert. But as we all know, we’re rowing in uncharted waters, and today, even though it’s Friday, we have some big updates to share with you. 

     

    I have declared that Remote Learning Days will begin for schools statewide on March 31 and continue until in-person instruction can resume. Please continue to send any questions you have to COVID19@isbe.net.  

     

    During Remote Learning Days, schools may implement either an E-Learning Plan or a Remote Learning Day Plan that provides students with instruction and access to educators through whatever means possible. Schools may use up to five Remote Learning Planning Days at any time after March 30 to work on Remote Learning Day Plans in partnership with their collective bargaining units. 

      

    Remote Learning Days, Remote Learning Planning Days, and Act of God Days count as actual student attendance days. All of these days count toward the minimum length of the school year and absolutely do not need to be made up. View ISBE’s emergency rules for Remote Learning Days at www.isbe.net/Documents/23-5RG-E.pdf. 

      

    Over the past week, ISBE convened a Remote Learning Advisory Group of teachers, students, paraprofessionals, related service personnel, principals, and district and regional superintendents to make recommendations to support educators, students, and families during Remote Learning Days. The recommendations provide overarching best practices for instruction, grading, communication, social-emotional needs, content selection and delivery, family engagement, and other important concerns, as well as specific guidance for different grade bands, English Learners, and students with disabilities. 

       

    I am deeply grateful to the 63 members of our Remote Learning Advisory Group for giving their time and their expertise to help ISBE and schools across the state navigate a new way of teaching, learning, and caring for our students. View the Remote Learning Recommendations at www.isbe.net/Documents/RL-Recommendations-3-27-20.pdf.  

     

    The Remote Learning Recommendations strongly encourage that school districts’ local grading policies during Remote Learning Days embrace the principle of “no educational harm to any child” and that school districts adopt grading models of pass or incomplete.  

     

    The Recommendations state that “Grading should focus on the continuation of learning and prioritize the connectedness and care for students and staff. All students should have the opportunity to redo, make up, or try again to complete, show progress, or attempt to complete work assigned prior to the remote learning period in that time frame. A focus on keeping children emotionally and physically safe, fed, and engaged in learning should be our first priority during this unprecedented time.” 

     

    ISBE has partnered with other agencies and advocates to provide additional clarity on other key topics.  

     

    ISBE released joint guidance with the Illinois Board of Higher Education and Illinois Community College Board to advise secondary and postsecondary institutions in Illinois on supporting and accommodating students who are enrolled in dual credit courses during the suspension of in-person instruction. View this guidance at www.isbe.net/Documents/Joint-Dual-Credit-Guidance-During-Suspension-of-In-Person-Instruction.pdf. 

     

    ISBE also met with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Principals Association to update our joint guidance regarding pay and work at www.isbe.net/Documents/Joint-Statement-Updated%203-27-20.pdf. 

     

    Additionally, Governor JB Pritzker’s Executive Order 2020-15, issued today, suspends state assessments for spring 2020, including the Constitution exam. This action officially ends assessment activity statewide for the Illinois Assessment of Readiness, Illinois Science Assessment, SAT, and Dynamic Learning Maps-Alternate Assessment for the 2019-20 school year.

     

    We recognize that the free SAT provided by the state is the only opportunity many students get to take a college entrance exam. ISBE is working with the College Board on developing options to allow current 11th grade students to take the SAT in the fall.  

     

    ISBE has refreshed its comprehensive guidance document with all of this information, as well as updated guidance on driver’s education, nutrition, flexibility in expending grant funds, and Early Childhood Block Grant recipients providing child care to the children of essential workers. View the comprehensive guidance at www.isbe.net/Documents/FAQ-3-27-20.pdf 

     

    I know this is not the way that any of us envisioned this school year going. But I continue to be awed by the phenomenal creativity, resilience, empathy, and problem-solving prowess of Illinois’ educators, administrators, and students. The stories I see every day on social media, in the news, and in my email show me just how focused our educators are on supporting our children in this time of crisis.  

     

    A story that appeared this week in a Springfield newspaper highlighted the ways teachers from preK to AP calculus are engaging with their students through remote learning. One middle school teacher even called every family on the phone to check in. Her name happens to be Jill Friday. 

     

    Like you, we are eager for life to return to normal, but keeping our communities safe must be our shared priority at this time. I am confident we will get through this together. And once this pandemic is past, we will certainly savor football games, choir concerts, and Fridays even more. 

     

    Sincerely, 

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 
    Illinois State Board of Education 



    March 30 - UPDATED Slides Families First Coronavirus Response Act Emergency Paid Sick Leave And Emergency FMLA For Private Schools


    (Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.)

     

    Fisher Phillips has updated the information on this slide show. See below:

     

    Thank you for attending our webinar, Families First Coronavirus Response Act:  Emergency Paid Sick Leave And Emergency FMLA For Private Schools, on March 26, 2020.  After producing the webinar, the Department of Labor issued guidance on some of the gray areas in the law that we mentioned on the webinar.  Given that, we have modified the slides to reflect these changes.  The modified slides are attached.  You should use these slides and not the recorded version of the webinar that you may have received from our firm as you make decisions about the applicability of the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Law and/or the Emergency FMLA.  

     

    We encourage you to continue watching for updates from the DOL and our firm www.fisherphillips.com on these and other related laws.  Subscribe to Fisher Phillips’ alert system (click link) to gather the most up-to-date information.



    March 27 - MPPI: Webinar Recording Available on Recent Legislation



    What do the Emergency Sick Leave and

    Emergency Family Medical Leave Provisions of the

    Families First Coronavirus Response Act Mean for My School?


    Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.


    Many of you are wondering how recent legislation will affect your school. The law firm of Fisher Phillips held a webinar on March 26 which provides details on the new laws obligating employers to provide Emergency Sick Leave and Emergency FMLA. They have kindly provided a recording of the webinar which we are passing on to you.


    To get resources like this delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.


    We suggest you listen to the complete webinar but have provided a few key points below:


    Emergency Paid Sick Leave


    • Applies to employers with less than 500 employees

    • Goes into effect April 1, 2020

    • Qualifying employees can receive up to 80 hours of sick pay

    • Reasons for taking sick leave must be related to COVID-19 (eg quarantine, advised not to work due to being a high risk individual, symptomatic, caring for children if school/child-care is closed etc.)

    • The cap on sick pay varies depending on the reason it is needed (eg sick vs caring for children)

    • Employers can take a credit against their payroll taxes to cover the sick leave pay


    Emergency FMLA


    • Applies to employers with less than 500 employees

    • Goes into effect April 1, 2020

    • Payments begin after 10 days and are equal to 2/3 of pay for 12 weeks with a cap of $200 per day and $10,000 aggregate.

    • Employers can take a credit against their payroll taxes to cover the FMLA payments


    Note that guidance has not yet been issued on either of these provisions. Until guidance is released, attorneys and HR professionals are using their best judgment to interpret these laws and that information is all subject to change once guidance is released.


    Fisher Phillips recommends that employers create a form that

    • outlines the various types of leave that are available to their employees

    • requests that they provide evidence as to eligibility

    • gives them a way to indicate if they would want to use accumulated PTO to supplement what they are eligible for through these emergency programs.


    Fisher Phillips has a nationwide Comprehensive and Updated FAQs for Employers on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, our FP Resource Center For Employers, and other resources, developed to assist businesses on “non-essential” designations and related issues by visiting www.fisherphillips.com.


     

    March 26 - ISBE - Caring for Students and Each Other


    Dear Colleagues:

     

    Today’s message focuses on caring for our students and caring for each other during this time of crisis. So many educators use the phrase, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

     

    East St. Louis District 189 put this principle into practice by establishing a Helpline that students can text at any time to reach the district’s Student Support Staff. This helpline connects students to the kind of support they may normally receive from their school social worker, nurse, or homeless outreach worker. The district posted the number on social media, inviting students to connect if they’re kicked out of their home or just worried about a friend.

     

    These kinds of connections are more important than ever, as students are no longer in our daily line of sight. I encourage teachers to check in with students periodically in whatever way you can. We need to look out for our most vulnerable children, especially in times of crisis.

     

    To help us take care of each other, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. These provisions will apply from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020. The U.S. Department of Labor has created a new poster outlining these policies, which I encourage you to share with your staff.

     

    Thank you for everything you are doing to keep our students – and yourselves – engaged, healthy, and safe.

     

    Sincerely,

     

    Dr. Carmen I Ayala
    State Superintendent of Education
    Illinois State Board of Education



    March 26 - For License Exempt Montessori Programs Interested in Providing Emergency Care


    We have new guidance for DCFS license exempt programs considering offering emergency care for essential worker families, see PDF below. 

    Also this page from IL GOECD has been updated with detailed information for homes, centers, and license exempt centers who wish to remain open and/or reopen as an emergency child care option.

    https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Pages/For-Communities.aspx


    March 25 - ISBE - IWAS, No Kid Hungry Grants, and Your Amazing Efforts


    Dear Colleagues:  

     

    The theme in my communications with agency staff has been, “This is not business as usual.” We want to do everything we can to ensure you can focus on the critical work of feeding and educating students. To that end, we have instituted a moratorium on all ISBE Web Application Security (IWAS) notifications. We will review all pending IWAS data collections and communications over the next few days and move forward only with those that are deemed essential at this time. Thank you for your patience as we work on this. 

     

    In exciting food news, we have learned that No Kid Hungry is offering $1 million in emergency grants, available immediately, for schools and community organizations who are finding innovative ways to make sure children have access to the meals they need. This national advocacy organization is supporting local efforts like home-delivered meals, grab-and-go programs, school and community pantries, backpack programs, and other steps to help reach children and families who have lost their access to meals. If you need funding to support your nutrition efforts, please submit your interest at www.nokidhungry.org/coronavirus-grant-request

     

    We can all take inspiration from Peoria Public Schools, which has handed out more than 21,000 meals since March 17, including barbecue, crispy chicken, and other sandwiches that can either be eaten cold or taken home and heated up. I know the students appreciate those tasty options. 

     

    I am also happy to report that at least two more school districts have stepped up to share personal protective equipment to keep health care workers on front lines safe while they combat COVID-19. Community High School District 99 in Downers Grove delivered respirators, Tyvek suits, goggles, and approximately 15,000 pairs of gloves to Good Samaritan Hospital today. And a nurse Round Lake Area Schools Community Unit School District 116 donated 300 pairs of goggles, 29 boxes of surgical gloves, 150 rubberized dissection aprons to Advocate Lutheran General Children's Hospital. If your school or Career and Technical Education program has PPE to spare, please contact ppe.donations@illinois.gov. 

     

    As schools across the state are engaging in remote learning, student journalists are showing us the sky truly is the limit. Geneva Community High School students lit up our morning here at ISBE with their amazing and totally remotely produced newscast! I also enjoyed this uplifting news report from Ethan Crabtree, a second grader from Ball-Chatham School District. 

     

    Educators across the state are also finding creative ways to remind their students how much they’re missed. O’Fallon Township High School staff collaborated to create a lovely video full of messages to their students. And Chicago Hope Academy Principal Ike Muzikowski showed off his soccer skills, dance moves, piano chops, singing voice, and most of all, his exquisitely vivid imagination in this incredible solo performance video. 

     

    Please keep sharing your talents and your hearts with your students and with us. It is appreciated more than you can imagine. 

     

    Sincerely, 

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 

    Illinois State Board of Education 


    CAPE Email Masthead

    Here is the most recent update from CAPE as to the passed and currently posed federal legislation for COVID-19 relief. Note finding for loans to small businesses for payroll. Thank you to everyone who reached out to your Senators to press for private schools being included in this relief.


    COVID-19: Emergency Child Care Resources for Communities & Providers


    From the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development


    Greetings, 

     

    Governor Pritzker, his staff, his Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and the leadership at the Illinois Departments of Human Services (IDHS) and Children and Family Services (DCFS) know that child care is always a critical work support for families. That is true even now as our state enters a "stay at home" strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

     

    Per Governor Pritzker's Executive Order on Friday, March 20, 2020, all child care programs across the state were ordered to close. Where possible, children should be kept at home. However, we know that is not an option for some of our essential workers, and we are working with DCFS, DHS, and partners throughout the state to develop child care options for these families.

     

    We have developed a COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage to connect you with information to understand your options for offering and accessing child care for essential workers within your community during this pandemic. Through this page you can learn how child care programs can apply to become an Emergency Child Care Center, how child care homes can operate as license-exempt homes serving six or fewer children, and how communities can ensure that parents are connected to the resources they need. This information and webpage can also be found under the For Families and Children resource page of our state COVID-19 response site, coronavirus.illinois.gov

     

    If you are a mayor, a community leader, a locally elected official, a school district representative, essential worker, or someone working to ensure child care options for essential workers in your community, please visit our site, share the link with others, and come back often, as we will continue to update and modify the page as more resources become available.

     

    We're in this together, 


    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)





    Good morning Early Learning Council Members and Friends, 

     

    We hope you and yours are staying healthy during this unprecedented public health crisis. GOECD, IDHS, DCFS, INCCRRA, and other partners throughout the state have developed several important resources we ask that you please share with your networks. 

     

    For essential workers seeking child care:

    • A dedicated help line has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential worker families to emergency child care. Essential worker families should call toll-free (888) 228-1146. The helpline will be available from 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM Monday through Friday to answer calls, but callers will be able to leave a message 24 hours a day.  
    • Click here and here for resources to help promote the helpline.   
    • To find emergency child care, essential workers are encouraged to visit  COVID-19 Emergency Provider Search


    For individuals who want to volunteer to support emergency child care: 

    • Qualified volunteers who are willing to temporarily work in an Emergency Child Care home or center should complete an Emergency Child Care Staffing Survey. They will be contacted in case there is a need in their area. 


    For child care providers who want to offer emergency child care to essential workers:

    • The COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage contains a listing of important resources for child care providers and is being updated daily with guidance, frequently asked questions, and other materials.
    • The COVID-19 for Early Childhood webpage contains a dated list of updates from Illinois state agencies, as well as resources for Head Start/Early Head Start programs and resources for families with young children.  

     

     Thank you!

     

    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    CAPE Email Masthead

    Contact Congress on COVID-19 Relief
    March 24, 2020


    Dear Friends of Religious and Independent Schools,

      

    The US Senate is currently considering a coronavirus relief package that includes aid to K-12 schools.  Currently, there is language in the legislation allowing non-public schools to receive relief. However, it appears that some are attempting to remove this language.

     

    Please use CAPE's Legislative Action Center to urge senators to make sure that private schools are not excluded from Congress' COVID-19 relief package.

     

    Thank you for your help.


    Sincerely,



    Michael Schuttloffel



    Illinois Unemployment Information


    Please note: The following information does not constitute legal advice, medical advice, or an endorsement of any service or product referenced herein.


    We are sharing basic information about unemployment insurance and claims as they stand in Illinois today. The aid package being put through the federal legislature today may include more options and availability but these two links may help you with where your school stands right now.

     

    First here is a link to the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Law Handbook from the IDES. Section IV is specifically about not for profit organizations.

    http://www.ides.illinois.gov/IDES%20Forms%20and%20Publications/CLI106L.pdf

     

    Second, here is the current COVID-19 page on unemployment benefits.

    https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx


    Again, these parameters may change with the new aid package, but this is where we stand in Illinois as of now.



    Child Care Providers and Emergency Operations


    If you are providing emergency childcare services for essential workers, please read the following:

    In response to the unprecedented public health emergency that Illinois is facing as a result of the spread of COVID-19, Governor Pritzker is committed to supporting child care providers offering emergency child care to children of essential workers. The State is mindful that child care is a critical emergency service that is necessary for essential workers.


    The Child Care Resource and Referral System is collecting information from programs (centers and homes) that are offering emergency child care for children of essential workers, to connect families needing care, to available care.


    If your program is open and offering care to children of essential workers, please use this link to let us know.


    We want to stress that these services should be provided only when essential workers have no other options available. The goal is still to practice social distancing and to shelter-in place whenever possible.

    The CCR&R System is committed to supporting our child care providers through this health emergency, and appreciate all that you are doing to support children, families and your communities.


    Interim Recommended Guidance1 for Preventing Spread of COVID-19 in Childcare/Daycare Centers

    3/18/2020 - Subject to Change

    Click to view the original PDF with the information below

    I. Background

    SARS-CoV-2 is a novel coronavirus that causes mild to severe respiratory illness (abbreviated as COVID-19). Public health experts continue to learn about SARS-CoV-2 however, based on current data, the primary mode of spread appears to be from an infected person to close contacts (those within about six feet) via respiratory droplets. Transmission of SAR-CoV-2 to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented, but evidence suggests that SARS- CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces.

    Appropriate steps to prevent spread of COVID-19 in childcare/daycare centers will vary based on the level of COVID-19 community transmission and presence of COVID-19 cases within the facility. Guidance provided in this document are best practices for preventing spread of all viral respiratory illnesses. However, when there are high levels of COVID-19 community transmission in your community, these practices may not be sufficient to prevent transmission in the childcare/daycare center environment and closure by local or state officials may be recommended.

    II. Purpose

    This guidance provides recommendations for childcare/day care centers while remaining operational.

    III. Definitions

    Symptoms

    Clinical features are fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illnesses. Symptoms may include:

    • Fever
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.

    Transmission

    Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

    • Respiratory droplets formed when the infected person coughs or sneezes;
    • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
    • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and
    • Rarely, fecal contamination.

    Prevention

    The following can help prevent the spread of coronaviruses and protect yourself, staff and the children from becoming infected:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or at least 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer solution, upon entering or leaving facility and before and after eating;
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; and
    • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    There are currently no vaccines to protect against human coronavirus infection.

    II. Preventative Actions for the introduction of respiratory germs INTO your facility

    • Post signs outside the entrance restricting entry to anyone with symptoms of illness/respiratory infection.
    • Daycare staff should be checked for fever before entering the facility at the beginning of their reported work period and maintain records of monitoring.
    • Ensure sick leave policies allow employees to stay home if they have symptoms of respiratory infection.
    • Monitor children daily for signs/symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Exclude any staff or child with symptoms of COVID-19 from the daycare setting.
    • Depending on the facility plan, stagger drop-off and pick-up times to avoid overcrowding of children and parents/guardians in confined spaces.
    • Limit parents/guardians to one per child during drop-off and pick-up.
    • No outside visitors should be allowed in the daycare for activities, regardless of their security clearance. However, this does not apply to maintenance/repair workers. For these persons, a log shall be maintained including date/time, name, phone number/cell number and email.
    • Develop a communication plan with parents and staff in the event a COVID-19 case occurs in a staff or child.
    • Coordinate with your local health department; inform them of COVID-19 cases reported in your childcare or daycare center and stay informed of local developments.

    III. Preventative Actions for the spread of respiratory germs WITHIN your facility

    • Promptly isolate any staff or child with symptoms of COVID-19, including use of a procedure mask (as tolerated by children).
      • If the child cannot tolerate a face mask, the staff assigned to that child should wear the facemask.
      • Limit the staff to 1:1 care for children who have been isolated.
      • Follow childcare/daycare facility procedures on notifying parent/guardian.
      • Educate parent/guardian on contacting their family physician.
      • Clean/disinfect area after the child leaves.
    • Cohort children and daycare staff. Children should be kept in the same group with same staff every day including meal, snack, rest and play periods. Limit groups/classes to 10 or less.
    • Post signs throughout the facility describing ways to prevent the spread of germs.
    • Monitor and enforce hand hygiene among staff and children.
    • Avoid shaking hands as a social greeting.
    • Ensure employees clean their hands according to CDC guidelines, including before and after contact with members, and after contact with contaminated surfaces or equipment.
    • Put alcohol-based hand rub in every room (ideally both inside and outside of the room).
    • Teach and reinforce healthy hygiene as is age appropriate (covering coughs/sneezes, disposing of tissues, handwashing, keep fingers away from eyes, nose and mouth).
    • Make sure tissues are available and any sink is well-stocked with soap and paper towels for hand washing.
    • Position trash cans for easier discarding of tissues and paper towels for staff and children.
    • Intensify cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched items, including doorknobs, toys, phones, keyboards, mice and other items identified as frequently handled.
    • Cancel or postpone all non-critical gatherings and events.
    • Increase ventilation by opening windows or adjusting air conditioning

    II. Preventative Actions for Vulnerable Populations

    Social distancing actions are taken to restrict when and where people can gather to stop or slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID‐19) or other infectious diseases in communities. Social distancing actions include limiting large groups of people coming together, closing buildings or canceling events. Staff and parents/guardians over the age of 60 years, especially if they have 

    serious medical conditions, and any children with serious underlying medical conditions, may wish to avoid a congregate setting such as a childcare or daycare center.

    III. Contingency Planning

    • Consider reducing open hours or maximum capacity. Check the IDPH and CDC websites daily for updated guidance to reduce spread of COVID-19. 

    IV. Closure of Childcare Facilities

    A childcare facility might need to implement short-term closure procedures if an infected person has been in a childcare facility. If this happens, IDPH recommends the following procedures regardless of the level of transmission in the community.
    • Upon learning of a COVID-19 case in someone who has been in the childcare facility, immediately notify the local health department. The local health department will help the childcare facility administrators determine a course of action for the childcare program.
    • Dismiss students and most staff for a minimum of 2-5 days.
      • This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local health department to assess the current COVID-19 situation and to work with facility administrators to determine appropriate next steps, including whether an extended dismissal duration is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.
      • This also allows for a thorough cleaning and disinfection of the facility.
        • Close off areas used by the individual(s) with COVID-19 and wait as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
        • Use a cleaning and disinfection product that is effective against SARS-Co-V-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and use according to the product label instructions. More information is available here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/community/organizations/cleaning-disinfection.html
      • The local health department should assist the childcare facility in development of messaging to communicate with parents/guardians and staff about the temporary closure of the facility and potential COVID-19 exposures.
      • Childcare facilities who offer essential medical or social service programs should consider alternative methods for providing these services. Coordination with other agencies and providers may be indicated to determine how best to accommodate the needs of high-risk children and families.
      • Local health department recommendations for the duration of childcare facility dismissals will be made on a case-by-case basis using the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the specific cases in the community.

    V. Resources

    CDC What to do if you are sick

    CDC When and How to Wash Your Hands

    CDC People At-risk for Serious Illness from COVID-19

    CDC Print Resources

    CDC K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs FAQs

    CDC Workplace and School Guidance


    Frequently Asked Questions about Isolation and Quarantine

    Note: Isolation and quarantine are different. These two terms are not interchangeable. Isolation refers to the separation of sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick. Quarantine refers to the separation of asymptomatic people who were exposed to a contagious disease in case they become sick.

    Q. What if a parent/guardian or other household member of a child or staff member is placed in isolation?

    A. In the event a parent/guardian or other household member of a child in your program is diagnosed with COVID-19 and has been told to isolate, the individual in isolation cannot enter the childcare program for any reason. They must utilize an emergency contact authorized by the parent to come pick up the child. If the child has been in close contact with the individual with COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to the household member’s symptom onset, the child is considered a contact and cannot return to the childcare program for the duration of the child’s quarantine period (14 days after the last exposure to the individual with COVID-19).

    Staff members who are contacts to COVID-19 cases are to be quarantined. See the question below regarding staff members in quarantine.

    Q. What if a parent/guardian or other household member of a child or staff member is quarantined?

    If the parent/guardian or other household contact has been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and doesn’t have any symptoms of respiratory disease but is being quarantined as a precautionary measure, childcare staff should walk out or deliver the child to the parent/guardian outside the childcare building.   The child can return to the childcare program if the quarantined individual remains asymptomatic. If the quarantined individual develops any COVID-19 symptoms, the child should be excluded from childcare for 14 days after the last day the household member had a fever .

    Q. What if a child is quarantined?

    A. Children who have been quarantined through exposure to the virus must not attend programs for the duration of the quarantine period.

    Q. What if a staff person at a childcare program is quarantined?

    A. If a staff member has been exposed to the virus and has self-quarantined but has not tested positive, the individual must not report to work during the quarantine period (usually 14 days after exposure). The center may continue to operate unless notified otherwise by the local health department or IDPH.

    Q. What if a child or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19 infection?

    A. If a child or staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is suspected of having a COVID-19-like illness, the ill person cannot attend childcare or work for the duration of their isolation period. Promptly notify your local health department. Notification should be sent to parents/guardians of attendees and all staff. The need for closure of the facility will be determined on a case-by-case basis in coordination with local health officials. At a minimum, the facility may need to close temporarily for thorough cleaning and disinfection of the facility. You will receive guidance from your local health department with specific directions.

    Q. What if a household member of a home-based provider is quarantined or isolated due to COVID-19?

    A. The program must not operate for the duration of the quarantine or isolation period, whichever applies.

    Q. If our childcare facility is required to close temporarily because of a COVID-19 case in a staff member or an attendee, how long will it be closed?

    A. Each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but initially, if a student or staff member attended school before being confirmed as having COVID-19, the childcare center may need to close for 2-5 days. This initial short-term dismissal allows time for the local public health officials assess the COVID-19 situation impacting the childcare center and for custodial staff to clean and disinfect the affected facilities. The local department and facility administrators will work together to determine appropriate next steps, including whether a longer period of closure is needed to stop or slow further spread of COVID-19.



    Webinar Recording - COVID-19: Child Care Business Practices and Resources


    The Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development held a webinar yesterday entitled COVID-19: Child Care Business Practices and Resources. A link to the webinar is available here


    ISBE - Statewide Assessment & Accountability Waiver Application and Other COVID-19 Updates


    Dear Colleagues: 

     

    I want to begin with a special shout-out to Indian Valley Vocational Center in Sandwich. The school serves students from 10 districts and offers 18 different programs, including programs that educate future workers in health occupations, sports medicine, law enforcement, fire science, and emergency medical services. Last Friday, when ISBE put out a call for schools and Career and Technical Education programs to donate facemasks and gloves to the Illinois Department of Public Health, IVVC truly stepped up 

     

    Joe Barbic, the director of IVVC, sent an email to instructors that evening, and they showed up at the school early Saturday morning to gather all the supplies they had in their classrooms. IVVC ended up donating 8,500 masks and 10,000 gloves to the county health department one of the state’s hardest-hit areas, Will County.  

     

    Can your school or CTE program step up? Health care workers on the frontlines of our state’s response to COVID-19 need N95 masks, Nitrile gloves, indirect vent protective goggles and facemasks, and isolation gowns. If you can help, please email ppe.donations@illinois.gov. 

     

    I also have an update that many of you have been eagerly awaiting: ISBE has submitted a waiver application to the U.S. Department of Education to:  

    • Waive all federally required assessments in the 2019-20 school year;   
    • Waive the requirement to provide summative designations and identify schools for targeted and comprehensive support in the 2019-20 school year; and 
    • Waive the requirement to report on accountability indicators on the 2019-20 school year Report Card. 

     

    Once the waiver is approved, any school that is currently identified for comprehensive or targeted support in the 2019-20 school year will maintain that identification status in the 2020-21 school year and continue to receive supports and interventions consistent with the school’s support and improvement plan in the 2020-21 school year.  

     

    View Illinois’ waiver application online at www.isbe.net/Documents/Assessment-Accountability-Waiver-Illinois.pdf

     

    ISBE is also seeking relief from assessment-related requirements in state statute to secure complete assurance that state assessments do not need to be administered in the 2019-20 school year.   

    ISBE has included this information in our updated comprehensive guidance at www.isbe.net/Documents/COVID-19-Statewide-School-Closure-Guidance-3-23-20.pdf

     

    And for more good news, schools can volunteer to provide child care for low-income essential workers without obtaining an emergency license. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor last Friday closed child care centers statewide. But because many essential workers need child care, the Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) is allowing schools to re-open as emergency child care centers without a visit from DCFS and without needing to obtain a license. For more information, visit www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Pages/For-Communities.aspx  

     

    ISBE is continuing to plan for the days beyond March 30. Today, we met with a diverse group of educators from across Illinois (virtually, of course) to begin developing recommendations about instruction and grading in a remote learning environment. The advisory group includes teachers, paraprofessionals, related service personnel, principals, district and regional superintendents, and students. Many group members bring extensive special education and multilingual education experience and expertise. We have established a solid foundation on the guidance document and are on track to release it this week. 

     

    Which reminds me, if your public school district has not completed our remote learning survey at the bottom of www.isbe.net/coronavirus, please do so as soon as possible. This feedback helps us monitor how teaching and learning is happening while in-person instruction is suspended.  

     

    Throughout the past several weeks, the thing I have appreciated most is the mindset with which Illinois schools are accommodating this unexpected and unprecedented upheaval. I noticed that Crete-Monee District 201 is providing free meals to all students, regardless of income, plus budget-friendly meals for the general public. At the bottom of the district’s flyer was the simple phrase, “We look forward to serving you.” I think that sums up the attitude of all of us at ISBE, as well as all the incredible educators around the state. Thank you.

     

    Sincerely,  

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 
    Illinois State Board of Education 

     

    View this message online at www.isbe.net/Documents/ISBE-COVID-19-Update-to-Schools-3-23-2020.pdf.



    IL GOECD COVID-19: Emergency Child Care Resources for Communities & Providers


    Greetings, 

     

    Governor Pritzker, his staff, his Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD), and the leadership at the Illinois Departments of Human Services (IDHS) and Children and Family Services (DCFS) know that child care is always a critical work support for families. That is true even now as our state enters a "stay at home" strategy to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

     

    Per Governor Pritzker's Executive Order on Friday, March 20, 2020, all child care programs across the state were ordered to close. Where possible, children should be kept at home. However, we know that is not an option for some of our essential workers, and we are working with DCFS, DHS, and partners throughout the state to develop child care options for these families.

     

    We have developed a COVID-19: Emergency Child Care for Communities & Providers webpage to connect you with information to understand your options for offering and accessing child care for essential workers within your community during this pandemic. Through this page you can learn how child care programs can apply to become an Emergency Child Care Center, how child care homes can operate as license-exempt homes serving six or fewer children, and how communities can ensure that parents are connected to the resources they need. This information and webpage can also be found under the For Families and Children resource page of our state COVID-19 response site, coronavirus.illinois.gov

     

    If you are a mayor, a community leader, a locally elected official, a school district representative, essential worker, or someone working to ensure child care options for essential workers in your community, please visit our site, share the link with others, and come back often, as we will continue to update and modify the page as more resources become available.

     

    We're in this together, 


    Dr. Jamilah R. Jor'dan

    Acting Executive Director

    Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD)



    Federal Small Business Information and Loan Assistance


    SBA assistance info: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

    SBA Disaster loans: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/


    From AMS: COVID-19 Resources for Our Community


    Dear Colleagues,

    The catastrophic developments with COVID-19, including its designation as a pandemic more than a week ago, have required us to make drastic shifts in our lives.

    As challenging as our days are, it is vitally important to remember that we are each an integral part of a caring and compassionate community—and together we can discover new ways to keep ourselves, and those whom we serve, safe and healthy.

    To this end, below are some resources we hope will be helpful to you in your schools and programs. We will be sharing more in the coming days, with items of special interest for both teachers and administrators, so please keep your eyes on your inbox.

    AMS Connect: The amount of activity we’ve been seeing on our online messaging platform, particularly in the Heads of Schools Community, has been unprecedented. Join your peers to read about—and share—thoughts about teacher salaries and tuition during school closures, plans and resources for distance learning, and more. And, in the Teachers Community, join lively discussions about online learning and Montessori in the home. Member login required. (Use the same username and password you use when logging in to the main AMS website.)

    AMS Connect Live! via Zoom: Teachers, let’s connect on Zoom to encourage one another and share ideas about applying Montessori principles to our work doing during these challenging days of COVID-19. We’ll break out into small groups so that you can interact with peers in your program level. Facilitated by AMS’s Joshua Shanklin, along with other veteran teachers.

    Live Webinar: “Managing Your School Through the Pandemic.” Join us Monday, March 23, 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM ET, for a FREE live webinar. Presented by our friends at Firestorm Crisis Management Solutions, this webinar is open to the entire Montessori community, but you must register.

    On-Demand Webinar: “Managing Communicable Illness.” If you missed our live webinar, or would like to see it again, you can now watch a recording and avail yourself of related handouts. Member login required.

    COVID-19 Resources for Schools Webpage: Our new webpage, with ideas for remote learning and much more, 
    will go live Tuesday, March 24. There will be a callout to it on our homepage in the Connect with Our Community section (beneath the 4 colorful boxes), or, starting Tuesday, just type COVID in the search function.

    Please be assured that while our physical offices are currently closed—AMS staff are working from home—systems are in place so that we can continue to provide uninterrupted, robust service to you. If you have questions, concerns, or ideas to share—or even just want to let us know how you are—please do not hesitate to get in touch with me. You are the reason we do what we do, and hearing from you brings meaning to our day.

    In peace, hope, and gratitude,

    Richard A. Ungerer
    Interim Executive Director



    Special Topic: COVID-19

     

    Join our partners at Firestorm Crisis Management Services for "Managing Your School Through the Pandemic," a FREE webinar tonight, Monday, at 7:00 PM. Among the topics to be addressed are implications of the crisis, decisions and actions associated with school operation, school facility closure, remote learning, and school reopening. Register by 4 PM (ET).

    ***

    Earlier in the month, Firestorm presented a free webinar about steps for preparing for communicable diseases within your school. It is now on demand. AMS members can watch the recording on our website (login required).
     

    ***

    Montessori is not just for the classroom. Here are some tips you can share with parents to help them make their home learning environments more aligned with Dr. Montessori's philosophy.



    Child Care & Emergency Response


    Emergency Child Care Homes 

    Effective March 21, 2020 ,and for as long as the public health emergency continues, child care homes may serve up to six children as a legally license-exempt home. No application or registration is required. Providers must follow appropriate health practices. Providers who are in a higher risk group for COVID19, such as those over age 60 or with a pre-existing health condition, are discouraged from providing care during the time of the public health emergency.

     

    Emergency Child Care Centers 

    Effective March 21, 2020, child care centers that wish to serve as emergency child care sites for the children of critical emergency workers may apply for an Emergency Child Care License. These emergency child care sites will be the only child care centers legally allowed to operate during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Emergency Child Care Centers may be located in: schools; community-based organizations such as churches and social services organizations; or health care facilities or other workplaces for critical emergency workers.  (Note:  clarification will be issued that this is inclusive of private centers as well as non-profit programs)



    Message from the US Secretary of Education


    ED Seal

    Helping Students Adversely Affected by School Closures, Secretary DeVos Announces Broad Flexibilities for States to Cancel Testing During National Emergency


    WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today students impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. Upon a proper request, the Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year.


    Secretary DeVos commented: “Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time. Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment. Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions. I’ve spoken with many local education leaders in the past days, and I’m inspired by their efforts to help their students continue to learn and grow. We’re going to continue to provide every flexibility possible to help make that as simple as possible.”

    In response to the extraordinary public health threat posed by COVID-19, President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency. As a result, many states have closed some or all schools. Therefore, a state unable to assess its students may seek a waiver from federal testing requirements by completing a form available at oese.ed.gov. At the Secretary’s direction, the Department has dramatically streamlined the application process to make it as simple as possible for state leaders who are grappling with many complex issues.


    To protect students’ health and safety, a state that deems it necessary should proceed with cancelling its statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year. Since student performance, as measured by assessments, is required to be used in statewide accountability systems, any state that receives a one-year waiver may also receive a waiver from the requirement that this testing data be used in the statewide accountability system due to the national emergency.  


    The Department will continue to speak with state and local leaders to identify any additional needed flexibilities, and it remains in coordination with Congress on expanding the range of flexibilities available to the Department under law.


    The Department continues to update www.ed.gov/coronavirus with information for students, parents, educators and local leaders about how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    For additional resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about COVID-19, please visit www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.



    Phase Federal Coronavirus Response Information


    ISBE Update and Free Internet Access Opportunities


    Dear Colleagues: 

     

    I want to be sure you are aware of the free internet access opportunities from AT&T, Spectrum, and Comcast. ISBE has listed these opportunities at www.isbe.net/keeplearning. Please share them with your students, staff, and communities. We need to be prepared to continue remote teaching and learning both online and off, potentially beyond March 30.  

     

    Belleville Township High School District 201 has also taken a creative approach to ensuring all students have access to the internet. According to WILL, the district “is deploying four school buses equipped with WiFi to serve as Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the community. Drivers park the buses next to seven different parks scattered throughout the community and Belleville’s downtown YMCA, depending on the day of the week, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Monday through Friday.” 

     

    Wow. I can’t say this enough: I’m so grateful for the way teachers, administrators, and families are helping students adapt to this unexpected crisis. 

     

    Today, we also saw staff and volunteers in Libertyville District 70 preparing and distributing Chromebooks and iPads for drive-through pickup, so students can keep learning. We saw Mrs. Latka, a choir director at Forest Ridge, sing a special song to her students via the internet. We saw about a dozen teachers from Goodrich School in Woodbridge using YouTube to lead students through physical exercise. And we saw educators who support students who are deaf, hard of hearing, deafblind, blind, or low vision provide resources, accommodation options, and collaboration avenues for educators and families through email and social media.

     

    That’s just a few of the amazing things teachers are doing. If you can take the time to share these stories via Twitter with #ILSchoolsStepUp, please do. Those posts inspire others and show your staff how much they and their efforts matter.

      

    It's easy to get stuck in a crisis mindset. As leaders, it is important now more than ever show appreciation for the added hours, the volunteering, and the extra mile. This praise and recognition will be the fuel your teachers and staff need to keep going for as long as the school closure is necessary.   

     

    Please keep preparing to educate students at home and to ensure their nutritional needs are met in the event the closure extends beyond March 30. And please keep taking the time to tell each other and your teachers and staff, thank you.  

     

    Sincerely,  

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 
    Illinois State Board of Education  



    ISBE School Closure Special Education Guidance


    Sending on behalf of State Superintendent Dr. Carmen I. Ayala:

     

    Good afternoon,

     

    Thank you for your patience as we have been developing specific guidance regarding special education. Please see the attached School Closure Special Education Guidance for Illinois Schools and Local Education Agencies. The guidance is also posted at https://www.isbe.net/Documents/School-Closure-SpED-Guidance.pdf.  

     

    Please continue to send any questions you may have to COVID19@isbe.net. Thank you for all you are doing on behalf of each and every one of our students.


    ISBE Request for Non-Public Schools E-Learning Technology Needs Survey


    Good afternoon,

     

    All ISBE registered and/or recognized nonpublic schools have now been added to the E-Learning Technology Needs Survey located at the bottom of the www.isbe.net/covid19 webpage. Complete the survey by selecting the “Nonpublic School” checkbox and a drop down will be provided. Please ensure that you select the school with the correct RCDT code, as there are numerous Nonpublic schools with the same name.

     

    If  you have additional questions, please email covid19@isbe.net. Thank you!

     

    Megan Griffin

    Director of Internal Communications

    Office of Communications

    Illinois State Board of Education

    (217) 782-4648


    Empower Illinois School Newsletter March 18, 2020

    Update from Empower Illinois


    We know that your school community's health and safety is the top priority during these unprecedented times. We also know that many families are counting on a Tax Credit Scholarship so their children can attend the private school of their choice next school year. And that is exactly why Empower Illinois will continue to work hard for students, for families, and for the Tax Credit Scholarship Program.  


    Scholarship Awarding

    While our operations continue on a remote basis, we are temporarily pausing any new scholarship awards this week. Additionally, we will not be processing any new applications. Both of these decisions are to ensure that families without computer access at home, or those establishing a routine to keep their family safe, do not miss the 10 day window to provide additional documentation, if required. We will reevaluate the resumption of scholarship awarding and application review next week. As of now, all current award expirations will remain the same, and we are continuing to process donations regularly, so awarding can resume quickly.  


    School Calendar

    With schools temporarily closed, we are putting the Spring Quarter Attendance verification on hold. When we know more about when schools will be back in session, we will reevaluate the Attendance Verification window.


    Invest in Kids Act Testing

    Empower Illinois is contact with the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) about how school closures may affect Invest in Kids Act testing. ISBE has yet to make a decision. At this time, they are working with the U.S. Department of Education and the testing companies to evaluate the best way forward. We ask that, to the best of your abilities, you continue planning for the Invest in Kids Act testing. We will communicate any information to you as soon as it becomes available. In the meantime, please reach out to Lacey Shiffer at ISBE (1-866-317-6034, lshiffer@isbe.net) with questions or concerns. 

    As noted above, our team remains engaged in this work and would be happy to address your questions or concerns. Please let us know how we can support your school during this time by reaching out to our Schools Helpline (888-458-9099, schools@empowerillinois.org).


    Thank you and be well,
    The Empower Illinois Team

    At Home Learning Resources


    In addition to any resources provided by your local school or classroom teacher, below is a list of free, online academic resources.

    Khan Academy | Khan Academy offers free, online standards-aligned lessons covering kindergarten through early college math, grammar, science, history, AP® courses, SAT® preparation, and more. These courses are offered in 40 different languages.

    Modern States | Modern States offers tuition free, high quality courses online from top institutions for college credit.

    Code.org | Code.org offers online coding and computer science courses for students as early as Kindergarten.

    Crash Course | This channel offers a huge library of videos across most major disciplines, including playlists of 48 videos on U.S. history, 72 on world history, and 50 on U.S. government and politics. Each episode is generally 10 to 15 minutes long and features John Green talking about the subject, mixed in with some humor and animations. 

    Amplify | This ed tech company is working at making its online instructional materials available for free for parents. Check back soon for more information.

    Bellweather Education Partners | Bellwether Education Partners is a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children. They are offering probono services to schools on how to address a variety of issues related to operations, strategy and decision-making, state and federal policy guidance, curriculum and instruction, and financial planning.

    General Resources

    We know that many of the families we serve together may be in need of additional community support during this time. The list below includes both education and non-education resources for families.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) | resources
    U.S. Department of Education | resources
    U.S. Department of Agriculture (meal services) | resources
    Illinois State Board of Education | resources
    Illinois Department of Public Health | resources
    Comcast 60-day free internet service | details

    What We're Reading

    The 74Analysis: What Should Schools Do to Help ‘Flatten the Curve’ in Fighting Coronavirus? A Lot of What They’re Already Doing

    QuartzWith 290 million kids out of school, coronavirus is putting online learning to the test

    School Spotlight

    Congratulations to Shay Boyle, who was recently named the new President of Notre Dame College Prep! Read the announcement here

    If you are interested in sharing news about your school, please reach out to us at info@empowerillinois.org We would love to feature your school in an upcoming newsletter!



    ISBE Update - March 18th


    Dear Colleagues:   

     

    Today was the first day of the mandated statewide school closure – and we made it through together. ISBE hosted two webinars for administrators today with more than 1,500 total participants. Thank you for the opportunity to connect and for your thoughtful questions. The presentation from the webinar is available at www.isbe.net/Documents/Statewide-School-Closure-Guidance-Webinar.pdf. 

     

    One question we received many times today was regarding reimbursement for school bus transportation during the closure, when school buses may not be running regular routes. The answer is that: 

     

    ISBE will base transportation reimbursement on expenditures. All allowable transportation expenditures incurred during the closure will be claimable for Transportation Reimbursement. School districts should work with their bus contractors to make payments to ensure that all personnel, including bus monitors and bus drivers, can continue to be paid during the closure. If school districts choose to negotiate and execute a contract amendment with their bus contractors to make payments during the closure to ensure transportation personnel will be paid in full, those expenditures will be reimbursed for state Transportation Reimbursement. Consultation with the district’s legal representation is advised. 

     

    Earlier today, we released a joint statement with the Office of Governor JB Pritzker, Illinois Education Association, Illinois Federation of Teachers, Illinois Association of School Administrators, and Illinois Principals Association about the rights and expectations of school district employees. I would like to thank our partners for their collaboration, and I encourage you to consult this guidance on issues of pay and work during the closure: https://www.isbe.net/Documents/Joint-Statement-20200317.pdf 

     

    Another question we received frequently today was about grading student work during the closure. We wish to clarify that: 

     

    Student work completed during the mandated statewide school closure must not negatively impact a student’s grades or otherwise impact a student’s academic standing. As we do not yet know the full extent of the closure and want to minimize any negative effects on students, schools may allow student work to count during the closure only to increase a student’s academic standing. 

     

    Our students may be experiencing varying mental and physical health challenges at this time and may have very different access to supports and technology at home. Our goal is that no student is negatively impacted by the closure and that no school district’s policies or procedures should widen the equity gap.  

     

    Our friends at the Illinois Association of School Administrators started the hashtag #ILSchoolsStepUp to share inspirational stories of how schools are providing nutrition, using creative educational strategies, and ensuring continuity for our children in the midst of what feels like a chaotic time.   

     

    We know there are countless stories to be told, because across the state, we have seen cooperation, generosity of spirit, and a laser focus on our true priority – doing what’s best for students. People often show their true colors in a crisis, and our true colors make me proud.   

     

    Sincerely,  

     

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala 
    State Superintendent of Education 
    Illinois State Board of Education 



    The Families First Coronavirus Response Act – What are the New Time Off Obligations that Covered Employers must Address?

    http://www.dewittllp.com/news-education/posts/2020/03/15/the-families-first-coronavirus-response-act-what-are-the-new-time-off-obligations-that-covered-employers-must-address</>


    Some basic information about private school insurance and COVID-19

    We were able to speak with Jerry Orpen, ARM, Senior Vice President and Director of Education-Practice for Crum-Halsted Insurance and Risk Management about private school options for insurance claims. He was willing to share these notes with our member schools. We know many of you know Jerry and work with him so we are sharing his candid comments here. We do encourage you to check with your school’s insurance agent for details about your specific policy, as this is general information. Clearly, we will be advocating for public funds to be funneled into private schools to mitigate financial losses from the closings.

    There are a couple of issues going on here, as pertains to insurance policies.  The first is the definition of what triggers a business interruption loss.  According to just about every policy I have ever read, there must be a "direct, physical loss...to the premises".  This would mean that something that was covered by your insurance policy, physically occurred to the premises where the school is located.


    There is also a clause in most policies regarding "Civil Authority".  Unfortunately, this is defined as a "direct, physical loss" to a neighboring structure, which causes the government to close access to the means of ingress or egress to your school.
    And finally, most policies include an exclusion for "Loss Due to Virus or Bacteria".
    I participated in a webinar on Friday concerning this and here are some of the take-aways and suggestions made by the panel of school-law experts:Be flexible with PTO and relax standards regarding days-off

    1. Be flexible with PTO and relax standards regarding days-off
    2. If you have foreign or exchange students, be aware of their F-1 Status and how that relates to ICE Guidelines
    3. Allow employees to work from home, if available.  If they are non-exempt employees, make sure that proper time-keeping mechanisms are in place to accurately monitor hours worked
    4. Use of Your Premises by Outside Groups- this is discouraged, but check the contracts you have entered into with these groups to see if such contracts may be cancelled
    5. As the Government has declared this to be a "Pandemic", there is more 'leeway' given to Employers in matters of employment law.  I am not an attorney, nor am I proffering legal advice, so please consult with your school attorney regarding any formal, legal advice
    6. One the basic philosophies of Montessori Education is active, hands-on instruction.  Although the curriculum may not lend itself well to off-site/home instruction, many schools have adopted a E-Learning as an alternative.  If a school decides to pursue this, they are encouraged to seek constant feedback from parents and students as to how the program is running, what improvements can be made, etc.
    7. Liability for the school may be created by not following minimum standards as published by the CDC or local/state Departments of Education


    This whole thing is a mess and, unfortunately, not covered by the vast majority of insurance policies.  The Federal Government has proposed relaxing guidelines to collect unemployment insurance and to provide tax credits to organizations who continue to pay their employees during a shutdown.  Granted, this has not gone into law yet and has to pass the Senate, so this is still in the 'proposal stage'.


    For any time that you are open and before re-opening, CLEAN, CLEAN, CLEAN and document all of that cleaning in detail.


    March 15th Email

    View PDF versions of the letters below:

    COVID-19 - FAQ for child care providers 3-15-20.pdf

    COVID-19 - Guidance for Child Care Centers COVID-19 closures 3-15-2020.pdf

    We have a few more pieces of information to offer tonight on CIVID-19 and school closings. 

    Below is a letter from the IL State Superintendent to both public and private school leaders:

    Dear Colleagues:

    Today we hosted six tele-town halls with superintendents, regional superintendents, and other educational leaders across the state. More than 1,200 of you called in – and we are so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with you. I am inspired by your willingness to step up and jump in, especially on a Sunday! I know Illinois’ students are in good hands.

    I would like to restate that the statewide mandatory school closure begins March 17 and extends through at least March 30. All of the days during this initial closure March 17-30 will be considered Act of God Days and will not be made up. ISBE is encouraging all school districts to provide learning opportunities to all students, through whatever means possible. Student work during this time should not be graded, as these days are not Instructional Days.

    School districts have total flexibility over the calendar designation for tomorrow, Monday, March 16. School districts may elect to use an Emergency Day; a Teacher Institute Day, even if the district has already used all of its pre-planned Teacher Institute Days; a half-day of student attendance; or, if a district has already exhausted all of its Emergency Days, an Act of God Day.

    Please be prepared to serve meals in non-congregate settings beginning on Tuesday. Our goal is that every school district has submitted the Unanticipated School Closure Non-Congregate Meal Form by the end of the day tomorrow. This is one of our highest priorities. 

    ISBE is in daily communication with the Governor’s Office and public health officials about the possibility of the closure continuing beyond March 30. Please understand that the situation is incredibly fluid and that we may not be able to determine what will happen after March 30 until we get closer to that date.

    To that end, ISBE is working with the Governor's Office to explore opportunities within the philanthropic community to ensure that every public school in Illinois has the technology needed to provide e-learning to all students in the immediate future, should the mandated school closure need to extend beyond March 30.

    Public school district superintendents, we ask that you respond to the E-Learning Technology Needs Survey at the bottom of www.isbe.net/covid19 as soon as possible to tell us exactly what you need to move to a 1:1 environment at all grade levels and to provide online instruction to students. One response per public school district should be recorded.

    ISBE is developing robust guidance on special education and on staffing questions related to the mandatory statewide closure, as well as compiling the questions and answers from today’s tele-town halls. In the meantime, please continue to reference:

    We have seen remarkable leadership, service, and dedication from every corner of the state. Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Carmen I. Ayala
    State Superintendent of Education
    Illinois State Board of Education

    Also, here is the Information and Support letter from the IL Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development:


    Date: March 13, 2020

    Memo to: Early Childhood Care and Education Program Administrators 

    Subject: COVID-19: Information and Support for Early Childhood Care and Education Programs

    The Illinois Department of Children & Family Services (IDCFS) knows that many early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs are wondering what can or should be done to prepare for a possible increase in the number of cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Illinois.

    The United States (U.S.) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides up-to-date information about prevention, symptoms, testing, and the current situation. Follow CDC recommendations. 

    The health and well-being of children, families, and staff in Illinois is of utmost importance. The immediate health risk to the general public from the virus causing COVID-19 remains low both in the U.S. and in Illinois. However, there are steps individuals can take to help minimize the COVID-19 spread. 

    For Program Staff

    The best way to prevent illness is to avoid exposure. When talking with program staff, administrators are encouraged to emphasize the following to help keep your staff and program participants healthy; these strategies also can help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after staff have been in a public place, or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. All hand surfaces should be covered; hands should be rubbed together until they feel dry.
    • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing or use the inside of the elbow.
    • Stay home when sick.
    • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
    For more information, see Steps to Prevent Illness or Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives from the CDC.


    For Families

    Support families in planning and making decisions for how they can protect themselves and their family members and homes. See the CDC Get Your Home Ready: Checklist for Individuals and Families for information on how families can create a household plan of action. Encourage families to consider members of their household that may be of greater risk, particularly older people and people of all ages with severe underlying conditions. 


    Develop an Action Plan

    Through collaboration and coordination with local health departments, child care facilities and ECCE programs can take steps to disseminate information about COVID-19 and its potential transmission within their community. The IDCFS is requesting that you create a COVID-19 Action Plan that outlines, but is not limited to, the following:

    • Be Proactive
      • Develop strategies to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Effective strategies build on already established infection control policies and practices.
      • Determine the need to develop and implement policies and procedures for working with, and providing services to, vulnerable populations. 
      • Develop and identify how you will manage each staff member’s responsibilities in the event of his or her illness or extended absence to ensure continuation of service. 
    • Avoid Exposure
      • Outline preventive steps to limit the frequent and close interaction between staff and delivery service personnel.
      • Ensure children’s daily health checks are completed upon arrival. Strictly enforce policies about excluding children when they are ill.
      • Via routine communication, inform potential visitors that symptomatic persons will not be able to enter the program facility. Be sure to screen and exclude visitors upon arrival if they have had potential exposure to COVID-19, recently travelled from an affected geographic area, or who appear to be experiencing fever, cough, or shortness of breath.
      • Minimize the number of events, including parent groups, until further notice.
    • Sanitize
      • Purchase infection control supplies such as hand sanitizer and soap for children, staff, and visitors to your facility per CDC recommendations.
      • Evaluate existing janitorial services and cleaning operations against the current CDC cleaning guidance
    • Monitor and Plan for Absenteeism
      • Review the usual absentee patterns among both students and staff. Alert local health officials about large increases in children and staff absenteeism, particularly if absences appear to be due to respiratory illnesses.
      • Review current attendance and sick leave policies. Develop new policies outlining mandatory leave for staff with COVID-19 exposure, symptoms of illness, or confirmed infection. This should include quarantine for 14 days post-exposure or isolation, if symptomatic.
      • Determine the need to anticipate and approve flexible work schedules for staff absences.
      • Develop a tracking mechanism to monitor staff illness and determine your program’s ability to meet required staffing ratios. 
    • Communicate
      • Develop an employee awareness campaign that provides information on COVID-19 and protective measures. Create a communication strategy to describe actions being taken to keep staff informed.
      • Develop a family awareness campaign that provides information on COVID-19 and protective measures. Create a communication strategy to describe actions being taken to keep families informed. Ensure Action Plans address the need for effective communication with individuals with limited English proficiency or for whom English is not their native language.
      • The CDC has numerous print resources available in several languages, as well as a series of videos (in English) that can be shared with staff and families. 
    • Partner
      • Reach out to your local public health officials (such as the county health department) for guidance if you are considering closing for a COVID-19 related reason. This is not a decision that you should be making on your own, but in partnership with local health officials.

    See the CDC Interim Guidance for Administrators of U.S. Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools for additional recommendations.

    Please submit to IDCFS (DCFS.COVIDPlans@illinois.gov) your Agency Action Plan providing details on preventive measures and continuity of operations protocols by March 20, 2020. Your assigned IDCFS Licensing staff will be available to answer any questions or provide clarifications.


    For additional information and updates, visit the following:

    IDPH COVID-19 Website

    CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

    Here is the link to that same letter:      

    https://www2.illinois.gov/sites/OECD/Documents/COVID-19%20Child%20Care%20State%20Agency%20Memo.pdf

    This situation will continue to unfold and AIMS will continue to provide updates and support and will be sharing support options that are being developed by our national Montessori organizations as well. We are all acutely aware that these policies implemented to slow the progress of the virus are deeply affecting our schools and families and are working on both providing and advocating for support. 


    Thank you,

    Cheryl and Denise


    March 14th Email

    We have been working to gather information to support our AIMS schools through this difficult period. We have been in communication with DCFS and at this point there is no mandate for licensed child care programs to be closed. We have spoken with the Illinois State Board of Education and they have informed us that licensed child care programs that serve children under kindergarten age are not mandated to close, even if they are part of a larger school that is mandated to close pre-kindergarten and up school programs. This is a rapidly unfolding situation and we expect more explicit guidance from the governor’s office soon. We are aware that there many ramifications to these closings and are continually working to get the most updated information and support available. 

    Statement from the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development:

    Early Childhood Care and Education Community, 

    The health and well-being of children, families, and early childhood care and education providers in Illinois is of utmost importance. Many Illinois residents are wondering what can or should be done to prepare for a possible increase in the number of cases of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) within the state. 

    Helping control the spread of COVID-19 is everyone's civic responsibility. 

    GOECD has developed a COVID-19 resource page on our website with links to information to help keep all Illinois residents, especially families, providers, and those who support children, informed. We invite you to visit this page often and to share it with your networks. 

    Message from the City of Chicago Department of Family and Support Services:

    Yesterday afternoon, Governor Pritzker announced a two-week, temporary suspension of public schools statewide.  For Chicago Early Learning, this suspension applies only to programs that are operating in a CPS school setting. 

    Please inform us immediately of any changes to your normal operations by completing this survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07egyx8vcrk7qqk0rd/a001k7qqtbzr/questions.

    We want to remind everyone to remind their families and staff of the simple measures that each individual should take to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

    • Stay home if you are not feeling well and keep sick kids at home
    • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; use at least 60% alcohol based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue away
    • Practice social distancing where appropriate, including alternatives to shaking hands, like an elbow bump or hand wave
    • Avoid large group gatherings, especially if you are over 60 years old and have serious underlying health conditions

    Click on these links for detailed guidance from the Office of Head Start (https://eclkc.ohs.acf.hhs.gov/physical-health/article/coronavirus-prevention-response) and the Center for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/schools-faq.html).

    CDC Info Page for Schools:

    https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/considerations-for-school-closure.pdf

    Illinois Department of Public Health Information:

    http://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/diseases-and-conditions/diseases-a-z-list/coronavirus

    We at AIMS will continue to update with all available information that we can acquire.

    On the topic of parent concern about what to do with children at home for so many days here are some great links that Melanie Thiesse, Director of School Quality and Accreditation at AMS shared (with credit to Michelle Jacob and Brenda Huth as well) for activity suggestions and websites:

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KCFnWreu4v7VoO3NbgP-Qcq2LyE1FvliYSoiTLRY7Qg/htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tYN-06ZvhqBKLzlu2ipu2P2LlOQ4exOP/view

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1O7bWPWOwl_5-GWDjjBgnzEK2mwPCC8vn/view


    Sincerely,

    Cheryl and Denise


    March 13th Email

    AIMS is relaying this urgent message from the Illinois State Superintendent regarding school closures and COVID-19. As we are sure you are aware, this is a rapidly changing situation and we will be working to get more information, especially about state support, through the next couple of days.

    https://www.isbe.net/Documents/COVID-19-School-Closures-Letter-Guidance.pdf

    Sincerely,

    The AIMS Board
    Denise Monnier
    Director of State Advocacy