10 Tips for Implementing COVID-19 Testing Programs in Schools

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10 Tips for Implementing COVID-19 Testing Programs in Schools

October 21, 2021

COVID-19 continues to be on the forefront of school administrators' minds as they navigate what the "new normal" is for their districts. AASA asked their members directly about what they believed an efficient testing program would look like when developed. The feedback received was invaluable and the Advocacy team created a handy cheat sheet for 10 Tips for Implementing COVID-19 Testing Programs in Schools for districts looking to implement a system featuring strong communication, funding ideas and staffing.

Note: Many of the points in this document are highlighted in the Covid-19 Testing in K-12 Settings: A Playbook for Educators and Leaders developed by the Rockefeller Foundation. We strongly encourage AASA members to read the playbook for more detailed strategies and information on COVID testing in schools. 

Please contact Sasha Pudelski at spudelski@aasa.org for any questions.

Senate Releases Draft of FY22 Labor HHS Education Bill

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Senate Releases Draft of FY22 Labor HHS Education Bill

October 20, 2021

Earlier this week, the Senate released its draft FY22 Labor HHS Education bill. Overall, the Senate Appropriations Committee provides a $25.4 billion increase USED (though that number is still $4.4 billion less than the House and President’s budgets). The differences in the Senate bill are spread across programs, and the most noticeable difference between the House and Senate bills is in their overall increase for Title I. The Senate bill increases Title I by $16.6 billion ($3 billion less than the House/President proposals). The Senate bill does not include the $1 billion increase for mental health included in both the House and President’s budgets. The Committee for Education Funding (AASA is a member of the coalition!) put together a handy side by side detailing the House, Senate and President proposals. Other program funding levels in the Senate proposal to note:

  • The Senate rejects the President’s proposal for a shadow Title I equity formula (AASA opposes the proposal)
  • $40 million increase for homeless youth
  • $12 million increase for REAP
  • $100 million increase for Title IV-A
  • $2.6 billion increase for IDEA (aligned with House and President)
  • $50 million increase for CTE

 

 

Important New ED Resource on Mental Health in Schools

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Important New ED Resource on Mental Health in Schools

October 20, 2021

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released a new resource: Supporting Child and Student Social, Emotional, Behavioral and Mental Health to provide information and resources to enhance the promotion of mental health and the social and emotional well-being among children and students. This resource highlights seven key challenges to providing school- or program-based mental health support across early childhood and K–12 schools, and presents seven corresponding recommendations. This resource includes many real-world examples of how the recommendations are being put into action by schools, communities and states across the country.

We encourage superintendents to review the recommendations and examples of how districts of various sizes, needs and locales are implementing some innovative and evidence-based practices for enhancing mental health services for students. In particular, the appendixes also include some information on the many technical assistance centers funded by ED and HHS that stand ready to assist districts in this work. 

Please note that this document is totally different than the DOJ/OCR document issued last week that focuses on the obligation for districts under Section 504 and other federal civil rights laws to provide students with mental health disabilities "an opportunity to learn free of discrimination."

White House Outlines Vaccination Plans For Kids 5-11

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White House Outlines Vaccination Plans For Kids 5-11

October 20, 2021

Ahead of the expected authorization of the COVID vaccine for children ages 5 to 11, the Biden administration has announced that shots will be distributed to school-based clinics as well as pediatricians’ offices, pharmacies, and other sites. School superintendents should expect to be contacted by their state departments of health in the coordination of vaccination clinics.

In addition, the White House has indicated that FEMA will reimburse states for school-based vaccination efforts, and the administration will coordinate to pair schools with local providers and pharmacies to help with on-site inoculations. They are holding "readiness calls" with states and territories in advance of the expected vaccine authorization.

Read the full details on EdWeek here.

New Report on Teacher Shortages

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New Report on Teacher Shortages

FutureEd and EducationCounsel released a report analyzing the current teacher shortage and offers policy recommendations to help states and schools address the human capital needs. The report, “In Demand: The Real Teacher Shortages and How To Solve Them” argues that despite recent headlines indicating a national shortage, the real teacher shortages lie within key subject areas, geographic locations, and the diversity of the teacher workforce.

Nationwide, states identify shortages in math, special education, foreign languages, and science and only 20% of public-school educators identify as Black, Hispanic or other non-white ethnicities.  Additionally, rural and urban districts that serve a large number of high-need students face significant challenges in attracting and retaining quality teachers.

The report breaks down the reasons for the shortages and provides targeted strategies to address these issues including different models of financial incentives to both teacher candidates during training and teachers working in high-need subjects and geographic areas, and improvements to teacher preparation programs. 

Instead of focusing on increasing the overall number of teachers, the report states, policymakers should have a more nuanced response to the problem to avoid exacerbating the existing inequities of access to effective educators. 

Responding to COVID-19 Cases in K-12 Schools: Resources for School Administrators

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Responding to COVID-19 Cases in K-12 Schools: Resources for School Administrators

October 19, 2021

Yesterday, the CDC updated its resources for school administrators responding to COVID-19 cases in K-12 schools. These resources come at a pivotal time as schools resume in-person learning, and school administrators must be prepared to respond quickly when someone with COVID-19 has been in the school or at a school event. The CDC stresses timely case investigation and contact tracing as the most effective tool to contain outbreaks in schools and provides insight on best practices and core principles for contact tracing.

The CDC also provides an updated process for responding to COVID-19 cases found in K-12 schools that emphasizes thorough investigation/testing, quarantining, observation and effective communication with the school community. This new guidance goes hand-in-hand with prevention strategies recommended by the CDC prior to the beginning of the school year.

Read the full resource here.

K-12 and Special Education Funding

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K-12 and Special Education Funding

October 14, 2021

Our friends at Education Commission of the States have released a great resource, that compares how all 50 states approach various aspects of K-12 and special education funding. The resource includes information on states’ primary funding models, base per-student funding amounts, student attendance count methods, and funding for special education, English language learners, students from low-income backgrounds, gifted and talented, and small schools.

Among the key takeaways, Education Commission for the States found that some, but not all, states allocate additional funding for specific student populations:

 

  • Special Education: 49 states and the District of Columbia
  • English Language Learners: 47 states and the District of Columbia
  • Students from Low-Income Backgrounds: 43 states and the District of Columbia
  • Gifted and Talented: 34 states
  • Small Size or Isolated Funding: 33 states

 

View a specific state’s approach by going to the state profiles page.