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COVID- 19 Education Update

April 20, 2020
Press Release
For Immediate Release Contact: Dr. Timla G. Washington
Updated: April 17, 2020 662-335-9003
Edition: Education  

High Alert
CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 Response to Recovery

Mississippi has been faced with COVID-19 since the second week of March and its stern grip on our state.  Some counties and communities of course have been hit harder than others.  COVID-19 has not been biased in any area of our lives, (e.g., businesses, hospitals and clinics, prison, churches).  It is my intention to send out updates on recovery assistance in all areas from various agencies, units of government, private and public sectors.  The information below in this edition will focus on education and the stimulus checks.

COVID-19 has forced schools to close and our educational system to respond overnight to how they will continue meeting the education need of our students.  That response has caught many school districts unprepared and handicapped, forcing them to use only the resources on hand to respond with.  I want to thank educators for not abandoning ships.  Hopefully the information in this update will help you in your efforts. 

As news develops, I will continue to share it with you through my Congressional Website, Twitter, and Facebook.  However, if you have any questions, call Dr. Timla G. Washington, PhD, my Human Capital Developer for the Mississippi Second Congressional District by email twashington@mail.house.gov or by phone at (662) 335-9003.

U.S. Department of Education

Do you have Questions about COVID-19 and Schools or Want to Provide Input?

If you have questions about the CARES Act and COVID-19 as it relates to your school district, you can contact the U.S. Department of Education at, you can submit questions to COVID-19@ed.gov.  If you have questions about Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 K-12 education funding and any Title programs or want to request waivers email the department at OESE.Titlei-a@ed.gov.  If you have suggestions or input, you can submit them at COVID-19@ed.gov. See the attached U.S. Department of Education Office of Elementary and Secondary Education Letter to the Chief State School Officer.

U.S. Department of Education

Online Education for Students with Disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education released this statement, "The Department recognizes that exceptional circumstances may affect how special education and related services and supports are provided to students with disabilities, and the Department will offer flexibility."  They are offering guidance, technical assistance, and information on how to meet students needs.  Updated information is available for students, parents, educators, and local leaders on their website at Coronavirus (COVID-19). To get more information view the attached March 21, 2020, Supplemental Fact Sheet: Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities (COVID-19).  The fact sheet also has the contact information for the Office for Civil Rights Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.

U.S. Department of Education

How to Use Grant Awards During COVID-19

If your school district has received grants funds prior to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Education released guidance on how the district can use those funds to continue paying employees.  See the attached April 8, 2020 Fact Sheet: Using Department of Education Grants Funds During COVID-19.

U.S. Department of Education 

COVID-19 Resources

School districts and higher education institutions are looking for information and resources. Collaborations and the coordinating of support is happening all across the country.  The U.S. Department of Education has compiled a list of resources and information for schools and school personnel.  Some of the resources and information found on this list include: 

  • Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Child Care Programs shares information on how to plan, prepare, and respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). For more information go to CDC Schools and COVID-19.
  • $6 billion for Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to help students facing financial challenges and struggling to make ends meet (see attached letter: Secretary of Education Letter to College and University Presidents - April 9, 2020).  Students must contact their institution to see if they have funds.
  • CARES Act: Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund guidance for Colleges and Universities can be found at U.S. Department of Education CARES Act for Higher Ed.
  • Coronavirus and Forbearance Info for Students, Borrowers, and Parents will provide automatic relief to student loan borrowers during COVID-19.  If you are a borrower with federal student loans, you don't have to do anything.  Your payments will automatically stop from March 13, 2020 through September 30, 2020.  Visit your account at Fedloan Servicing or if you have questions about your student loans check with your lender.  Visit the FederalStudentAid website to find out more.
  • Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak gives guidance to K-12 schools on meeting the educational needs of disabled and non-disabled students.  See the attached U.S. Department of ED Q&A Children with Disabilities.

Mississippi Department of Education (MDE)

Updates, Communication, Guidance, and Resources for School Districts

The Mississippi of Department of Education is closed to the public until further notice.  MDE continues to monitor the COVID-19 outbreak across the country and is in communication with the U.S. Department of Education and the CDC.  However, MDE has complied a list of resources and updates on their website for school districts, parents, and communities.  Parents are encouraged to contact either their school superintendent or a member of the local school board for their district. Some of the resources include:

  • Distance Learning
  • Educational Stability for Students in Foster Care
  • Graduation Requirements and Earning High School Credit (Carnegie Units)
  • Learning-at-Home Resources for Families
  • School Nutrition Program Meal Service
  • Special Education
  • Textbooks and Library Books

Since the office is closed to the public, use the Mississippi Department of Education Directory to find the email address of the person and department you want to contact.

Center for Education Reform (CER)

Free Online Resources

CER is nonprofit organization working to reform educational opportunities so that they lead to improved economic outcomes of all Americans.  In the wake of COVID-19, CER has assembled a searchable database of like organizations offering free resources to help educators, parents, teachers, students, community citizens at different levels of education (early, middle, high school, institutions of higher learning, and the public at large). It also covers subject matter classes. These resources bring distance learning to your fingertips while you shelter-in.  Teachers can incorporate them into their lesson plan for online learning while schools remain closed.  Some of the apps are available in different languages.  Go to CER Resources to search their database.  Below are some of the resources listed in this database.

  • EDU Learning Series through Apple offers free online guide videos, consultation to teachers on distance learning.
  • Age of Learning gives students in home access to ABCmouse, Adventure Academy, and Reading IQ at no cost.
  • Parent Support for Online Learning was created by parents to help each other and give advice on how to succeed at helping your child on an online learning environment.
  • Enchanted Learning is a free temporary tool of curriculum materials to help teachers who are now teaching remotely during COVID-19.
  • Mystery Science for Young Scientists provides science lessons for anyone to use in grades K-5.
  • Zearn More Math! is a free online tools 24 hours a day, 7 days a week providing 400 hours of online lessons with live teachers and supportive remediation.  This source includes paper-based material that you can print out.  School Administrators can set this up to be used district wide in their distance learning plan.  Zearn Math can provide reports to school to monitor learning at a cost.  Zearn will also train teachers and parents on how to use it.
  • CODE Computer Science recognizes that in many areas, there is an underrepresented population of students needing access to computer science courses.  CODE allows students, K-12, to learn at home.
  • Why America? is an interactive learning tool that introduces educators, students, and parents to the history of our nation. It gets them excited about learning how the United States was formed, sheds foundational light on the thinking of our founders, and hopefully they will develop an appreciation of civil society and American history to the point where they want to be involved and continue learning.
  • Varsity Tutors offers 30 hours of Grade specific concepts, online classes, and practice questions.  Classes are led by subject matter experts in math, science, reading, literature, writing, and more.  Classes are held daily with live instructors.
  • Higher Ed Help has collected resources to support higher education administrators during the COVID crisis.  A weekly webinar is held every Thursday 9am PST/11am CST/12 EST.  You can also access past webinars.
  • Modern States Freshman Year for Free is a newly launched initiative charting the path to free college credits.  The goal of the program is to make college more accessible and affordable for high school students, college students and adult learners, including active duty military personnel and their families, and veterans.  All courses are taught by college professors.  Courses taken can lead to college credit because students are taught so that they are ready to take to the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test. CLEP exams are administered by the College Board and accepted for credit by more than 2,900 colleges and universities.  Modern States pays for students to take the CLEP exam.
  • Ecree Keep Writing gives unlimited free online access to their writing tool to students and faculty until the end of May.
  • Edspresso gives free access to the latest substantive, innovative education options from all around the world.  They want you to keep your mind active while we social distance in-person but digitally. 
  • Virtual Events provides content on a variety of options for how to do digital and remote learning, how COVID-19 has changed the landscape for good as to how we will now function and interact so we can't go back to business as usual once this over, connects you with best practices and many in real-time as you see and hear from others.
  • Zoom Video Conferencing is free for all K-12 schools.  Administrators, teachers, parents, and students can socially distance while we flatten this COVID-19 curve but stay connected and continue their jobs of educating.

K12

Provides families with an online option for high-quality, personalized education using innovative technology, inspiring teachers, and a dynamic and interactive curriculum.  Students can learn at their own pace from home.  During the COVID-19 crisis, K12 is providing free access to some of its products and services.  K12 has already had a presence in Mississippi (Greenville Public Schools, MS Department of Education, Power Apac School, and others).  Go to K12 to view all of the free learning programs they offer.  Below are a list of some of the resources.

  • Big Universe is a digital literary learning tool for the students that love to read and those that want to improve their literary knowledge and skills.  Students get access to more than 17,000 eBooks 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to practice opportunities such as reading aloud, guided reading, interactive writing, writing workshops, and reading workshops.
  • Destinations Career Academy (DCA) is for students in grades 8-11 so they can take courses during the summer and begin exploring  high-demand career fields through online access.  Course are offered in business, healthcare, and IT (Information Technology).  Courses start June 24, 2020 and end July 22, 2020.  Students can receive 0.5 in high school elective credit.  DCA is offering a two-week boot camp for students to learn coding from June 15, 2020 to June 27, 2020 and another one July 6, 2020 to July 17, 2020.  Students should check with their school if they are interested in enrolling is this free course. 
  • FuelEducation offers 30 days of free innovative digital curriculum, technology instruction, and support directly to school districts. 
  • Stride is a personalized digital game-based learning interactive tool for students preK-8 grade.  The subject areas include math, reading, language arts, and science and is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on your tablet, PC or Mac computer.

IRS Stimulus Checks for Non-Filers

The IRS has set up its FREE online portal for Non-Filers to enter their direct deposit information.  The information entered will be used to determine your eligibility and payment amount.  Once that is determined your stimulus check will be direct deposited into the account you submitted in the online payment portal for non-filers. Go to IRS Non-Filers Payment Portal to read the instructions and enter your information. Here is the information you will need on-hand to enter into the online portal:

  • Full Name, Current Mailing Address, Current Email Address
  • Date of Birth, Valid Social Security Number
  • Bank Account Number, Type of Account, Bank Routing Number
  • Identity Protection Personal Identification Number (IP PIN) if you have one
  • Driver License or State-Issued ID if you have one
  • For each qualifying child: Name, Social Security Number or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number, their relationship to your or your spouse

Who needs to use the online portal for Non-Filers?

  • If you receive veterans disability compensation, a pension, or survivor benefits from the Department of Veteran Affairs, or your income level does not require you to file a tax return.

Who does NOT need to use the online portal for Non-Filers?

  • If you receive social security, railroad retirement, or social security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.
  • If you have already file a 2019 federal income tax return.
  • If your 2019 gross income (before deductions) exceeded $12,200 for an individual or $24,400 for a married couple, or for any other reasons that require you to file a 2019 federal tax return.
  • If you were married at the end of 2019 and are not submitting information with your spouse.
  • If you were not a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident in 2019.