A Factsheet on the Impact of COVID-19 on Assessments and Accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act addresses a range of concerns about how extended school cancellations and absences may affect school accountability.
In addition to the possibility of waiving testing requirements, the Education Department may consider a targeted waiver for schools that don’t meet the minimum student participation rate of 95 percent in state tests, the guidance says.
And the department will also consider targeted waivers for schools that see high rates of chronic absenteeism related to the coronavirus. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia include chronic absenteeism as a school quality indicator in their ESSA plans.
Guidance on the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, outlines how schools can honor their obligations to student privacy while communicating with the public about COVID-19 or while sharing information with health agencies that are working to track its spread.
“Through information sharing and coordination with public health departments, educational agencies and institutions can help protect their schools and communities,” that document says.
Parents must provide consent before schools can release any personably identifiable student information publicly, it cautions, but some educational records and health data kept by schools may be released to relevant health agencies under FERPA’s health or safety emergency exception.
Guidance on Students with Disabilities and the Coronavirus reminds schools that, if they “continue to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure” through activities like distance learning and online programs, they must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities.
That guidance, which mirrors a directive the department previously released related the H1N1 virus, also urges that homebound services and individualized education plan meetings may be required for medically fragile students who stay home to avoid getting ill.