Arkansas Department of Education Division of Elementary and Secondary Education Guidance for Schools Regarding COVID-19

Memo Information

Memo Number
LS-20-089
Memo Date
3/2/2020
Memo Type
Informational
Unit
Learning Services
Regulatory Authority
Response Required
NO
Attention
Federal Programs; Superintendents; Assistant Superintendent; Principals; Technology Coordinators; Test Coordinators; General Business Managers; Teachers; Gifted & Talented Coordinators; Curriculum Coordinators; Bookkeepers; School Counselors; Techstart Coordinators or Contact Name; Equity Coordinators (Disability/Race/Gender/National Origin); Child Nutrition Directors/Managers; Data Stewards (SIS; eSchool; eFinance; TRIAND); District Coordinators (ALE; Homeless; ESOL; SDFS & Foster); Parent Involvement Coordinators/Facilitators

Primary Contact Information

Secondary Contact/s Information

Memo Reference

No references available.

Memo Text

 

Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-26-2020)

 

Budget Update

 

The recent announcement regarding the state’s general revenue reduction will necessitate a reduced distribution of General Revenue for the current fiscal year, resulting in a reduction of about $120 million to the Public School Fund for FY 20. The DESE has sufficient funding reserves, however, to continue state foundation funding and categorical funding and maintain the Legislative Adequacy recommendations. Additionally, at this time, DESE does not expect to reduce other programs funded from the Public School Fund for the rest of FY20.  

 

Clarification about Seniors

 

The decision from DESE related to seniors meeting graduation requirements is regarding the statutory requirements for graduation. The intent is to relieve questions and concerns about whether seniors would be required to participate in extended make-up days or summer school should there be any further delays to the school year. It is not DESE’s position that seniors are automatically finished, since there are other considerations, such as concurrent credit courses, CTE industry certifications, ACT prep, and also determinations as to whether a senior is on track. Whether a senior is “on track to graduate and in good standing as of the 3rd nine weeks” is a local school district decision that will be made by school administration. This determination should be made based on a review of student data including, but not limited to, grades and credits earned. Districts may have additional requirements for specific designations upon graduation or opportunities for seniors to continue engagement for the remainder of the school year. Districts must also continue to provide the services and supports included in a student’s IEP or 504 plan necessary to provide FAPE as part of any continued academic engagement or other opportunities.

 

Concurrent Credit/ Advanced Placement

Students, including graduating seniors, must meet the objectives of concurrent courses to receive college credit. Students taking online concurrent courses will continue as usual to receive college credit. Districts should contact their college liaisons to determine the most feasible means to arrange completion of face-to-face concurrent courses. Examples may include migrating students into online sections or completing the courses via correspondence. ADHE encourages colleges to provide flexible and innovative approaches in assisting students and districts with the completion of concurrent courses while maintaining academic integrity and quality learning experiences. 

 

Advanced Placement: The AP College Board will be supporting students to provide access to AP content and AP exams. Details will be coming soon on how the AP Program can support students by providing live and on-demand AP courses for free and developing a new at-home testing option. Some students may want to take the exam sooner rather than later while the content is still fresh, yet other students may want more time to practice. For each AP subject, there will be two different testing dates. The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP exam, and additional testing information will be available by April 3. The exams can still be taken for a higher education qualifying score even if it is necessary for them to be taken from home.

 

Additional Provisions Suspended

 

The DESE has continued to identify regulatory statutes, orders, and rules that are hindering or preventing the rapid response necessary to combat the spread of and recovery from COVID-19 per the Governor’s Executive Order 20-06 dated March 17, 2020. The EO allowed for a 30-day suspension (from the date of the EO) of provisions of law and rules to enable maximum flexibility in making decisions regarding how to continue educational delivery, monitor progress of students, conduct meetings, etc. Provisions suspended by DESE, which were most recently updated on March 24, 2020, can be found athttp://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/communications/covid-19-information/temporarily-suspended-dese-rules-draft.  

 

Grading and Assessment of Student Work

 

Recognizing that AMI days will not replicate the traditional schedules for every student, provisions have been waived to allow districts flexibility in assigning grades to students. Districts may continue to issue a numeric/letter grade, or they may consider other alternatives, such as a pass/fail model or a demonstration of content mastery approach. Other waivers in this area:

  • Allow districts flexibility in assigning grades to students.
  • Allow districts flexibility in calculating GPA.
  • Remove the requirement that students take “the entire AP course” and AP exam, to receive weighted credit. 
  • Allow districts flexibility in reporting progress/completion to parents/guardians by not requiring a “grade” for each class. Districts are still required to issue a report card for each student at the end of each grading period, at least four times each school year.

The DESE APSCN team will work with schools to modify reporting options in eSchool and is ready to help districts think through unique situations. Options to consider include:

  • Option A) Process grades as normal. All setups are currently in place for this procedure. Semester grades will be processed as normal. Grades will be submitted for the fourth 9 weeks as normal during a typical grading period. No eSchool changes necessary.
  • Option B) Schools may opt to carry the third 9 weeks grade to fourth 9 weeks and average the two 9 weeks grades to provide the semester grade. This process will require setup changes. A district’s eSchool admin should seek assistance from APSCN Field Support Technicians.
  • Option C) Pass/Fail option. The district may issue a Pass/Fail type grade. The parameters of the pass/fail grade option will be defined by the district. This option will require setup changes in eSchool. This option will vary depending on the school district and will require assistance from eSchool Field Support Technicians. This option will require district personnel to enter a semester grade for each student. It is highly encouraged that this option be well planned prior to implementation by the district’s eSchool admin. and administration.

Districts are strongly encouraged to examine their plan for the continuity of education (through AMI) for the next few weeks and make decisions, specifically those regarding grading, that are in the best interests of students. District eSchool admins should contact their education service coop APSCN Field Tech for assistance or guidance on making changes to grading processes in eSchool.

 

Here is a link to all APSCN support team members.

 

It is vital that districts communicate plans to staff, students, and parents.  

 

Continuation of AMI / AMI Support

 

DESE, in collaboration with state partners providing support for schools using Alternate Methods of Instruction, has released a document titled Arkansas Continuing Education Options for PK-12. This document outlines the various options districts should consider at this time. These options are available to all schools and are also open to anyone who wants to access the content. Districts may utilize the Arkansas AMI guides in place of current AMI plans, or they may continue with local plans.  Districts should be mindful of the challenges that families are facing right now and be sure that their AMI decisions have reasonable expectations.   

Arkansas AMI Learning Guides, developed through a partnership between DESE and Arkansas PBS, provide support for students, parents, and teachers in grades PK-8. More information may be found by watching the recorded presentations on the Arkansas AMI webpage.  

Special Education and AMI: The impact of AMI needs to be considered for each child based on his/her individual needs and how he/she will access the special education services and supports outlined in the Individualized Education Program (IEP). As the district plans for the continuation of AMI, educators need to ensure students with disabilities have equal access to curriculum as compared with their peers.

AMI Hotline

 

DESE has established an AMI Hotline that will operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily beginning Thursday, March 26, 2020. The AMI hotline will be staffed by DESE personnel and is intended to support school district officials, teachers, parents, and students who have AMI questions. We anticipate that many of the questions that we receive will most likely be district-specific questions; therefore, it is imperative that every school district have local personnel available to also answer questions or concerns from parents and students. Hotline staff will redirect calls to the district contact listed in the ADE Data Center as appropriate.  

 

The AMI hotline number is 1-833-353-6050.

 

Health-related questions should still be directed to the COVID-19 Hotline or the School Designated COVID-19 Hotline (see below).

 

Career and Technical Information

 

Industry-Recognized Credential Testing

A potential “test-at-home” solution is currently being discussed for students preparing for industry-credential testing. Pending any major barriers, this option may be available to CTE students for final demonstration of knowledge and skill attainment. More information will be provided as it becomes available. 

 

Coordination of Collection of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for COVID19

Many of the CTE medical programs, such as Medical Professions, Medical Lab, CNA, and some AG and Criminal Justice programs on high school, secondary center, and postsecondary campuses, have Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items as part of their minimum equipment list. The PPE gear includes protective gowns (not to be confused with patient gowns. Protective gowns are often yellow and made of a paper-type, disposable material), masks, face shields, gloves, protective eyewear, etc. CTE Coordinators are asked to inventory and add to the statewide donation list. Logistical instructions concerning dropping items off at the cooperatives will be provided soon. 

 

Career and Technical Student Organization Spring Conference Changes 

  • The Future Business Leaders of America State Conference will occur virtually: virtual competitions and the opportunity for scholarships and other awards. 
  • SkillsUSA Conference and Championships have been cancelled. 
  • The Future Farmers of America State Conference has been postponed until summer. Some events will be held virtually leading up to the conference, and students will have an opportunity to receive scholarships and other awards. 

Telehealth

On March, 23, 2020, the Division of Medical Services (DMS-Medicaid) released a policy update memorandum regarding the use of telehealth for Occupational, Physical, and Speech Therapy during the COVID-19 outbreak. The memorandum allows for therapy to be provided in the home of a student via telehealth and widens the technology options that may be used for this purpose. The DESE has distributed this information to various school personnel along with a document that provides clarifying points regarding the new DMS-Medicaid policy. The DMS memorandum may be found at the following website: https://humanservices.arkansas.gov/images/uploads/resources/Memorandum_DMS-04_%28DD-therapy-telehealth%29%28FINAL%29.pdf. Additional information will be made available on the DESE COVID-19 website.

 

Continuation of Meal Service

 

DESE appreciates the many efforts to provide meals to students during the time that schools are closed to onsite instruction. A total of 127 districts have reported that they plan to extend dates for non-congregate feeding in the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) throughout the closure. DESE is aware that many school districts’ food service program budgets are being affected with a reduction in reimbursements and continued ongoing costs. DESE is seeking ways to allow districts to recoup funds.

 

Additional Licensure Plan (ALPs),  Administrator Licensure Completion Plans (ALCPs), & Emergency Teaching Permits (ETPs)

 

These will be approved, denied, or extended on a case-by-case basis. The current documentation process still applies. Email David.Baca@arkansas.govwith any questions regarding this process.

 

New Teacher Candidates

 

In coordination with Institutions of Higher Education, maximum flexibility will be utilized to ensure candidates are eligible for employment for the 2020-2021 school year.

 

General COVID-19 Information

 

MAIN COVID-19 Hotline: 1-800-803-7847

School Designated COVID-19 Hotline: 1-833-504-0155

 

The Arkansas Department of Health is identifying confirmed cases on the county level. If there are cases associated with students or staff in a school district, the student or staff member will be notified by health department officials. For the privacy of students and staff, the district will not share any information publicly. DESE knows that districts are committed to providing the safest learning environment and will follow the guidance provided by the CDC and the Arkansas Department of Education in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Health.

 

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Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-20-2020)

 

Continued learning opportunities for students

It is important that during the extended closure there is a continuation of educational delivery of core content (English/Language Arts, math, science, social studies). While the focus for students for the remainder of the year needs to be on core academic areas for all grade levels, districts that can continue to provide instruction for elective courses may continue to do so; however, it is expected that many districts will have shortages of staff who can continue to provide instruction, and districts may need to focus on a more limited scope of course delivery. To assist districts in providing quality options for education, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education is assisting districts with various options:   

  • Districts may continue to use their district AMI plans that provide ongoing learning activities using blended approach delivery options including digital, virtual, or delivery of educational packets to students.   
  • Districts may also utilize digital content through Virtual Arkansas Grades 9 (Canvas LMS with your district teachers).
  • Districts may utilize digital content through the Arkansas Public School Resource Center.
  • Districts may utilize the state-supported Arkansas AMI Learning Guides with Arkansas PBS (AETN) programming. 

Details about delivery options listed above can be accessed here.

 

The DESE and Arkansas PBS have partnered to support teachers, families, and students by providing Arkansas AMI Learning Guides associated with PBS educational programming. An additional option for grades PK-8 will be available utilizing state-supported Arkansas AMI Learning Guides with Arkansas PBS (AETN) programming. Beginning March 30 on Channel 2, Arkansas PBS will alter its regular television programming to provide age-appropriate educational content for three specific grade bands (PK-2, 3-5, 6-8). The Arkansas AMI Learning Guides will support home-based instruction in association with the PBS educational television programs to promote activities that students and families may use to practice existing skills, learn new topics, and interact with one another in a meaningful way. 

 

Suspension of requirements

Grading and attendance requirements have been suspended per Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s signed Executive Order 20-06. An amendment to his original emergency declaration regarding COVID-19 instructs state agencies to identify regulatory statutes, orders, and rules that are hindering or preventing the rapid response necessary to combat the spread of and recovery from COVID-19. The 30-day suspension of these provisions provides for districts to have maximum flexibility in making decisions regarding how to deliver instruction and monitor progress, including the reassignment of personnel to support educational delivery of core content. The suspension was in effect on March 17, 2020.     

Communities are encouraged to engage with school districts to create safe learning zones where students can access Wi-Fi and technology support or pick up educational packets.   

 

Seniors

Seniors who are on track to graduate and in good standing as of the 3rd nine weeks reporting period will be considered “as meeting the graduation requirements” for the state of Arkansas. School districts may still implement local policies for honor graduates and class rank and should make local decisions regarding end-of-year engagement for current high school seniors regarding graduation. We encourage districts to find ways to continue to support seniors’ next steps, such as assisting with FAFSA, scholarship applications, applications for post-secondary opportunities, etc. Seniors who were not on track must be given the opportunity for credit recovery. Students enrolled in courses for weighted credit, such as AP or IB, should still receive weighted credit regardless of the ability of a student to take an AP/IB/or other assessment. It is important to note that waivers of the following have been approved for current seniors:

  • Civics exam 
  • CPR
  • Digital Learning
  • Personal Finance

Click here to access Arkansas Graduation Requirements

 

State Assessments

Due to the extraordinary circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures, states have been provided flexibility regarding the assessment and accountability requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Given the widespread, extended school closures, and the interruption in school operations and on-site classroom education, Arkansas will cancel administration of state testing for the spring of 2020. This includes the ACT Aspire, the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM), and the K-2 assessments. Arkansas will participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s expedited waiver process and will be seeking broad flexibility from both assessment and accountability provisions.    

 

Special Education

The special education guidance on the COVID-19 webpage will continue to be updated. Please continue to access it for ongoing information during the extension of school closures to on-site instruction. 

 

Staffing during extended closure

We continue to have questions related to staffing during AMI days, related to both certified and classified staff requirements. The directive is that schools must be closed to on-site instruction; however, there are essential personnel who will need to continue to work, and there are essential duties that must be performed. Each district must identify essential personnel and essential work functions and will have to call upon staff accordingly. In some cases, essential staff may include teachers coming on-site to prepare AMI packets or to deliver virtual instruction from their classroom site.  Classified staff may be needed to assist with meal delivery or assistance with AMI packets. 

 

Individuals should adhere to the Arkansas Department of Health’s recommendations for social distancing and group size limitations. Individuals who have been advised or required to quarantine should follow the ADH requirements. No one should report to work if he/she is sick. Districts should recognize there are staff members who have higher risks due to health conditions or live in a household with persons at a higher risk and might need added flexibility. Districts have broad flexibility in providing opportunities for employees to work modified hours or to work from home. As a way to address concerns with docking pay of contracted staff who can’t or shouldn’t come to work, placing those individuals on paid administrative leave is an option.

 

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Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-18-2020)

 

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is looking at options to meet the needs of candidates in Educator Preparation Programs affected by COVID-19.  We hope to have details out by Friday.  We want to assure you that we are working to communicate options available for candidates.

 

For students in the Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL):  Praxis testing centers are now closed through April. APPEL will allow candidates to apply for the 2020 APPEL application window, even if they have not met the testing requirements. They must meet ALL other criteria and fully submit the APPEL application.  The criteria required are:

  • Transcripts showing degrees conferred
  • Proof of payment for background check
  • Two (2) letters of recommendation, including contact information, for person making the recommendation
  • Passing score reports for Praxis subject assessments are not required for application 

Governor Asa Hutchinson has given indication he expects schools to be open on March 30, 2020.  To that end, DESE is working towards guidance on reopening considerations for districts and families.  

 

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Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-16-2020)

 

DESE COVID-19 Webpage: The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has created a webpage devoted to education-related information regarding COVID-19. http://dese.ade.arkansas.gov/divisions/communications/covid-19-information

 

Special Education Services: Specific guidance for special education services in Arkansas can be found at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1x7gETXf-2hJidZ9GUXDxvcvQKUqD75MkT0Y--z6_O80/edit?usp=sharing.

 

Child Nutrition Information: On March 14, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture approved a wavier for the DESE Child Nutrition Unit. The waiver is for non-congregate feeding in the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) due to unanticipated school closures due to the novel coronavirus.  The approved waiver granted the following:

  • Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) granted a waiver of the congregate feeding requirement for approved SSO sponsors in good standing through June 30, 2020, or upon expiration of the federally declared public health emergency, whichever is earlier.
  • This flexibility allows, for approved Districts, to provide meals to be taken and consumed offsite, allowing for social distancing during the novel coronavirus.
  • FNS also granted a waiver of the requirement that SSO meals be served at non-school sites during unanticipated school closures due to the novel coronavirus.

All Superintendents and Child Nutrition Directors were emailed on March 15, 2020, with step-by-step instructions.  Districts closed due to COVID-19, must have an approved SSO site and complete the non-congregate feeding waiver, if needed. Contact the Child Nutrition Unit at 501-324-9502 if there are questions.

 

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Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-13-2020)

 

Gov. Asa Hutchinson held a press conference today and provided an update about COVID-19. The video of the press conference is available at https://bit.ly/39Pd5VF

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued recommendations on school closures. These recommendations, which are available at the following link, are based on science, reports, and by consulting with school health experts: https://bit.ly/39QxCci

 

Updated Contact Information

 

In an effort to effectively field concerns related to school closures and school/student-related concerns of potential positive COVID-19 cases, the Arkansas Department of Health has designated a hotline for school personnel to utilize to report concerns. Additionally, Arkansas Children’s Hospital has designated a hotline number to field concerns related specifically to the known presumptive positive case at ACH mentioned in the March 12 press conference. For all other concerns, individuals should use the MAIN COVID-19 Hotline number. These pertinent numbers are listed below:

 

School Designated COVID-19 Hotline: 1-833-504-0155

Arkansas Children’s Hospital Hotline: 1-800-743-3616

MAIN COVID-19 Hotline: 1-800-803-7847

 

Districts can email education questions to ade.communications@arkansas.gov.

 

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Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-12-2020)

 

Due to the growing number of presumptive positive COVID-19 cases, as well as a continued increase in the number of people who have come in direct contact with those who have the virus, the Arkansas Department of Health, in coordination with the Arkansas Department of Education, is closing all public schools in Grant, Jefferson, Pulaski, and Saline Counties. As of today (3-12-20), only schools in these four counties are being closed because of COVID-19.

 

Schools in these counties began dismissing students today and will remain closed until March 30. Schools have the option of utilizing Alternative Methods of Instruction, as well as determining the appropriate number of staff needed to ensure essential school functions (such as payroll, AMI days, etc.), are addressed. Schools also are asked to limit exposure by postponing all extracurricular activities. During this time, there are no restrictions to the number of consecutive days for which AMI can be used.

 

To ensure students continue to have access to nutritious meals during the closure, the Arkansas Department of Education has applied for two U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers that would allow the state to approve a school’s request to utilize the waivers to continue to provide meals for students during the closure. To learn more, go to https://bit.ly/2Qar9RM. More information will be provided as it becomes available. 

 

The Arkansas Department of Health has been designated as the lead agency in coordinating information and response to the virus. ADH has established a dedicated phone line for school officials to call with questions: (833) 504-0155. The phone line is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. For urgent after-hours needs or on weekends, call (800) 803-7847.

 

ADE will continue to provide updates as more information is available. Be sure to also follow the department on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

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Updates to COVID-19 GUIDANCE (UPDATED 3-11-2020)

 Governor Hutchinson held a press conference this morning and released a proclamation that details action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  The proclamation can be accessed here.  Because Arkansas has been planning a COVID-19 response for months, the state is well-positioned to begin containment efforts.  The Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) will continue to act as the lead agency to work in concert with other state agencies to respond to the COVID-19 virus. 

 

School and school activities will continue at this time, and the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE), in consultation with the Arkansas Department of Health, shall provide guidance to local school districts and institutions of higher education to address concerns related to the virus and take all actions necessary to ensure the continuation of education.  The Secretary of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Education, shall have sole authority to close public school campuses throughout the state for reasons related to COVID-19.  The situation will be monitored closely. 

 

Planning

 Should extended closures become necessary, the ADE understands the importance of coordination in planning and responding to needs and will provide as much guidance as possible in how closures should be conducted, including the handling of student and staff absences.  The ADE is working with federal agencies and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to identify issues that will need to be addressed if school closures become necessary, such as possible modifications to state testing windows and continuation of meals for students in need.

 

It is also important to note that The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has extended all approved 2019-2020 Alternate Methods of Instruction (AMI) applications for up to ten days.

 

Travel

 State employees have been directed to clear their professional out-of-state travel plans with their Department’s Secretary.  All citizens are asked, however, to review and rethink travel plans to consider whether plans will put themselves or others at higher risk of transmission.  School districts should evaluate school-sponsored travel plans and ask school-district employees to consider risks associated with their personal travel plans, including spring break. 

 

New Resource for Arkansas

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is pleased to announce that UAMS HealthNow, its 24-hour digital connection to healthcare professionals, will soon offer free screenings for all Arkansans who have questions about whether they may have the COVID-19 virus.  UAMS HealthNow site will have a screening tool with a series of questions about their symptoms, age, overall health, travel and other potential exposure to the COVID-19 virus and guide them regarding next steps, if any. This may include a video session with a UAMS HealthNow provider, advice to contact their local physician for further evaluation and possible testing for the virus.

 

People who have symptoms and who have been exposed to COVID-19 are urged not to visit a physician office, urgent care clinic, emergency room or hospital without first talking to the facility and getting instructions on how to prevent spreading the virus to healthcare providers and other patients.

 

This service will be available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to patients of all ages across the state of Arkansas and can be accessed from a smart phone, tablet, laptop, or computer.  https://uamshealth.com/healthnow/

 

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General Information and Guidance for Schools-Novel Coronavirus (ISSUED 3-3-2020)

While currently there are no confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Arkansas, we recognize the importance of planning and communication to ensure the safety of all Arkansans.  Because we share a primary responsibility for the safety and well-being of Arkansas students, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) would like to provide guidance with the respiratory illness by COVID-19.

 

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that usually cause mild respiratory illnesses such as the common cold. COVID-19 is a disease caused by a new coronavirus identified in humans this last December (2019).


The Arkansas Department of Health has been designated as the lead agency in coordinating information and response to COVID-19.  Information can be accessed at: https://www.healthy.arkansas.gov/programs-services/topics/novel-coronavirus


Please review the detailed guidance from ADH, which is attached to this memo. 

 

Guidance about Students and Staff Who Have Traveled or Possibly Been Exposed to COVID-19


At present ADH are monitoring travelers who have returned within the last 14 days from countries with sustained community transmission. At present these are the affected countries: China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, and Japan. As the epidemic spreads, we will likely also monitor travelers from other affected countries. Travelers from affected countries are advised to stay at home and monitor for symptoms until 14 days have passed from their departure from that country, while limiting interaction with others. Once 14 days have passed without any symptoms of illness, CDC recommends these travelers be allowed to return to school and public activities.


It is recommended that schools communicate with parents to let them know that the district is aware of the risk of COVID-19 internationally, the district is working with ADH to identify students and staff who may have traveled from the affected countries, and district staff will collaborate with ADH if any such students or staff are identified.  Districts are requested to identify any student or staff who may have departed China (or, in the future, any other affected country) within the last 14 days. This information is permitted to be shared with ADH under the public emergency rule.


Schools should inform their school nurse if any students or staff have traveled to these countries so that the nurse can advise regarding home self-quarantine and assist with self-monitoring. Please report this information to ADH at 501-537-8969.



If a student is identified as having traveled from China (or other affected country) in the last 14 days and has symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), they should immediately be placed in a single room and have a mask placed on them. Others in the room should wear a mask. If physical contact is required, then gown, gloves and mask should be worn.  Any suspected case (with symptoms) of COVID-19 should be reported to ADH immediately at 501-537-8969 (M-F 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM) or 1-800-554-5738 (after hours and weekends).


Unless students and staff are found to be at risk, schools do not need to take any special precautions beyond the normal recommendations to prevent the spread of viruses in schools. To reduce the risk for getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, encourage them to take simple steps to help prevent COVID-19. These include:

·   Staying home when they are sick.

·   Frequent hand washing with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

·   Advising persons to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

·   Following the school's routine cleaning and disinfection program.

·   Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.

·   Urging students and staff to get a flu shot during the flu season.

·   Providing adequate supplies for good hygiene.

  

The DESE will continue to coordinate with other state agencies and will provide ongoing updates as new information develops.  Should it become necessary, outbreaks in school districts will be managed with assistance of the local Departments of Health and/or county office of emergency management; therefore, districts should communicate with local officials to plan accordingly. 

 

Districts should also review approved Alternative Methods of Instruction (AMI) plans and communicate with teachers, parents and community members how decisions will be made if it’s determined that there is a need for Alternative Methods of Instruction.  The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has extended all approved 2019-2020 AMI applications for up to ten days.  In addition, DESE will accept new AMI applications for the 2019-2020 school year from districts that did not previously apply.  The deadline for submission is May 1, 2020.

 

School nurses and school administrators will continue to receive updated guidance as the DESE has new information to share.

 

Health related questions regarding the information provided in this memo may be directed to Cheria McDonald, State School Nurse Consultant, at cheria.mcdonald@arkansas.gov . For all other inquiries, contact Don Kaminar at John.Kaminar@arkansas.gov.

   


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