More than 77,000 public charter school students are affected by the most recent COVID-19 school closures in Georgia. During this challenging and uncertain time, GCSA will continue to provide virtual services, frequent communications, and important news updates to schools until normal business operations resume throughout the state. Please see a list of virtual and general resources to assist during the COVID-19 crisis below:
GCSA COVID-19 Information Zoom Update Presentations & Recordings
COVID-19 Guidance and Information
U.S. Department of Education Guidance
The U.S. Department of Education has released COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel.
CDC Guidance for Schools
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prepared an Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools and Childcare Programs.
Georgia Department of Education
The Georgia Department of Education has prepared up-to-date information on COVID-19 for schools.
Special Education During the COVID-19 Crisis
- If the school is OPEN (meaning: the school has opted to provide virtual or online instruction in lieu of school closure), districts and schools are still obligated to provide special education services. Specifically:
- Schools and districts must continue servicing IEPs (Individualized Education Program); however: OSEP will not require amendment of the IEP if the entire school has moved to a virtual model. (The decision to instruct virtually constitutes an alternate mode of instructional delivery for all students.)
- If online/virtual instructions does not meet the individual needs of specific students, the school system should consider compensatory service options to address these concerns.
- If the school is CLOSED (meaning: no instruction is being provided to any students), districts and schools are not obligated to continue providing special education services.
- The school CANNOT provide some students access to instruction while denying it to others.
- The U.S. Department of Education has released Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak.
- The Georgia Department of Education has prepared a Special Education Services (COVID 19) Guidance.
- Guidance on SBOE Waivers Approved in Response to COVID-19
- Guidance on In-Person Reportings and Employee Safety
- Employee Safety Guidance for School Nutrition Programs During COVID-19 Pandemic
- Overarching ESSA and IDEA Programs
- FY21 Consolidated LEA Improvement Plan (CLIP)
- FY20 Cross Functional Monitoring (CFM) and Program Monitoring (McKinney-Vento; 21st CCLC)
- Title I, Part A Including Family Engagement
- Foster Care Education Provisions under Title I, Part A
- Title I, Part A 1003 School Improvement
- Title I, Part C
- Title II, Part A
- Title III, Part A
- State English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Program
- Title IV, Part A
- Title IV, Part B 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC)
- Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
- Equitable Services for Private School
- GaDOE Cancellation of Required 2020 Spring Assessments FAQs in Response to COVID-19
Assessments and Accountability
State Standardized Assessments
- No state assessments (including Georgia Milestones, EOGs and EOCs, GAA/GAA 2.0, GKIDS, and all other required testing) will be administered this year.
AP, SAT & ACT Exams
- AP exams will take place virtually and will not include questions from the final units of the course. By April 3, College Board will publish the full exam schedule including the specific free-response question types that will comprise each AP Exam. (All AP Exams will be “open book” this year.) See detailed guidance from College Board and free AP review materials for students.
- SAT/ACT testing waived for USG admission. SAT/ACT testing has been suspended for the remainder of the school year.
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) has confirmed that all state-approved district meal service programs are open to any student residing in that area. If charter school students experience any issues obtaining meals, please contact the district and/or GCSA for further assistance.
GaDOE announced last week that Georgia received waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend meal service flexibility in case of extended closures as a result of COVID-19. Click here for more details.
Equal Employment Opportunity Laws During COVID-19
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has posted a recorded webinar on its website to answer questions arising under any of the federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave and Family Medical Leave Act Expansion
On Wednesday, March 18, President Trump signed a second COVID-19 relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201). The relief package includes the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Emergency Paid Sick Leave Due to COVID-19
The newly signed legislation applies to employers with fewer than 500 people. Under the act, all employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees, are required to provide two weeks of paid sick leave under the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act. Certain provisions of the Act may not apply to employers with fewer than 50 employees. We recommend you consult an attorney. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, employees of covered employers are eligible for the following:
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and seeking a medical diagnosis; or
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick time at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine (pursuant to Federal, State, or local government order or advice of a health care provider), or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor.
Family and Medical Leave Act Expansion
The Act requires employers to provide emergency family and medical leave to care for a child due to COVID-19. The Department of Labor says employees are eligible for the following:
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of paid family leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
Paid leave begins after 10 days of unpaid leave. An employee can substitute their accrued sick leave or vacation time during this time period. After the initial 10-day period, an employee is entitled to two-thirds of their normal wages or two-thirds of their applicable minimum wage, whichever is higher, up to a maximum of $200 per day and a total of $10,000. For more information visit the U.S. Department of Labor.
SBA 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program: Under the Act, you can establish a Paycheck Protection Program to run through December 31, 2020 that provides “covered loans“ (100% SBA loan guarantee) to assist small businesses and nonprofit organizations adversely affected by COVID-19. The loan could be valued at up to two-and-a-half months of payroll expenses. It can be used to meet payroll and associated costs such as health insurance premiums, facilities, and debt servicing. If the organization keeps staff on payroll during the loan period, a large portion of the loan is forgivable. This, in essence, turns part of the loan into a grant. Total funding for the program is $349 billion, and loans will be given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
SBA Economic Injury Disaster (EID) Loans: Due to passage of the COVID-19 relief bill, EID loans of up to $2 million in assistance are now available to help overcome temporary revenue loss as a result of COVID-19. The interest rate is 2.75% for nonprofits and 3.75% for for-profits with repayment terms of up to 30 years. You can complete the application online. However, unlike the 7(a) Paycheck Protection Program, the EID loan does not include a forgiveness provision. Nonprofits and small businesses may receive both types of loans, but the loan applications must be for different purposes (i.e. personnel and rent costs for 7(a) and other operating expenses for EIDL).
- The Georgia Department of Education has prepared a list of digital learning resources.
- Zoom is offering free unlimited meetings for teachers and students during the COVID-19 crisis. To take advantage of this offer, students and teachers have to fill out this online form.
- Georgia Public Broadcasting the Georgia Department of Education are partnering to provide Georgia Education Classroom: free, educational broadcast programming and digital learning resources.
- Google Hangouts Meet
- Kahn Academy
- National School Choice Week
- PIE Network
- Fulton County Library System is offering storytime at 11 a.m. on weekdays
- Virtual museum tours
- Girls Who Code
- Fernbank Museum at Home
- Georgia Virtual Learning
Internet Access for Students
Kajeet provides filtered Internet access outside the classroom. You can send it home or install it on the bus. The company offers a complete connectivity package using mobile hotspots, or SmartSpots or Kajeet SmartBus.
Xfinity WiFi Public Hotspots
Students can also access the internet while practicing social distancing at Xfinity WiFi Public Hotspots. To find a public hotspot near you, click here and enter your city or zip code.
Comcast Offering Free Internet Service to New Customers
New Comcast customers will receive 60 days of free Internet Essentials service. Normally, the service is available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95 per month. The speed for Comcast’s Internet Essentials Service was also increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.