Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information and Resources

The social and economic effects of COVID-19 will be significant and touch every corner of our state. But there is much that can be done to mitigate impacts to students and families and create educational success for the long term. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) envisions three phases on the path to recovery and our new future.

As schools, students, families, and communities plan for reopening schools for in-person instruction in the fall, the Utah State Board of Education is committed to providing ongoing guidance and resources as we sort through this unprecedented situation together.

Other sources of information educators and families should monitor are the:

Reopening Schools

School Reopening Plans

Below are links to school districts’ and charter schools’ reopening plans for the 2020-2021 school year. At any given time, a Local Education Agency (LEA) may be updating or sending in a revised hyperlink to their respective plan. Please know that we will be maintaining these links, as we are explicitly notified of any changes.

Utah School Reopening Plans 2020-2021 | Charters

Utah School Reopening Plans 2020-2021 | Districts

Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind (USDB) School Reopening Plan
Google Docs

Addendum to Utah Leads Together Color-coded Guidelines

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) worked with a panel of experts—educators, administrators, public health experts, physicians, epidemiologists, teacher representatives—to articulate minimum elements and requirements that Local Education Agencies (LEAs) must address as they plan to reopen schools for in-person instruction in the fall of 2020.

The requirements contained in this document to locally develop plans in accordance with certain minimum requirements serve as an addendum to the Utah Leads Together Color-coded Guidelines. This purpose of the addendum is to itemize the requirements LEAs would abide by to safely reopen schools to in-person learning in fall 2020. The intent is to clearly define what to do but enable adaptability and innovation at the local level to determine how to do it by applying a set of principles and levers to mitigate risk of spread of COVID-19 across school settings.

Planning Requirements and Recommendations for K-12 School Reopening

Phased Guidelines for the General Public and Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Reactivation Version 4.8
State of Utah

Reopening Requirements Template and Handbook

USBE is providing a Reopening Requirements Template and Handbook for LEAs to use while developing local plans. These documents are intended to provide a framework that brings together common and consistent elements and principles within each respective plan. By using the Reopening Requirements Template, both LEAs and USBE will have a method to assure that all of the state required areas have been substantively addressed. The Handbook is meant to accompany the Reopening Requirements Template and serve as a guide.

The Reopening Requirements Template is required to be submitted to the Utah State Board of Education by August 1, 2020. Please submit by emailing to coronavirus@schools.utah.gov. Submission of the template serves as an assurance only; the Board is not approving local plans.

School Reopening Planning Handbook

School Reopening Requirements Template

990-Hour Instructional Requirement (2020-2021)

Thursday, July 23, 2020 USBE approved an updated version of the Utah State Board of Education Administrative Rule R277-419: Pupil Accounting for the 2020-2021 school year. The updated Board rule allows an LEA to receive a waiver from the requirement for an LEA to provide 990 hours of instruction/educational services for the 2020-2021 school year if the LEA fulfills certain requirements.

To obtain the waiver from the 990-hour requirement, an LEA is required to include a description of how the LEA will ensure continuity of teaching and learning by providing high quality instruction that includes blended learning and formative assessments into the LEA’s reopening requirements template.

he following attachment will act as an addendum to each LEAs Reopening Plan. If an LEA is seeking a waiver from the 990-hour requirement, please download and complete the fillable form and e-mail to coronavirus@schools.utah.gov by August 1, 2020.

Waiver from the 990-Hour Instructional Requirement

Sufficient 900 Hour Waiver Applications

As a reminder, the requirement for an LEA to provide 180 days of instruction/educational services has not been waived.

Who Has Authority to Close Schools and Determine What Reopening Schools Looks Like in Response to a Pandemic?

Decisions about closure of schools to in-person instruction in response to a pandemic may be made in a variety of ways. In the spring of 2020, a statewide Executive Order suspended in-person instruction. It is anticipated that decisions to move from one school scenario to another during the 2020-2021 school year will be made by school districts or charter schools, in consultation with the local health department based on a myriad of factors as outlined in the decision model below.

Considerations for Reopening Schools

Considerations for Reopening Schools Table

Webinar

On Monday, June 29, USBE hosted a webinar for district superintendents, charter school directors, and their teams to orient participants to a problem-solving framework that can be applied to assess and mitigate risk due to COVID-19. A panel of on-the-ground educators and public health officials discussed how to apply the framework to school settings. USBE also introduced participants to the Reopening Requirements Template and Handbook and responded to questions.

USBE Presents: Templates and Tools to Re-open K-12 Schools (Webinar 1)
YouTube

Slide Presentation

Utah State Board of Education Presents: Templates and Tools to Re-open K-12 Schools

Additional Resources

The temporary shutdown or reduced operation of a building can create serious hazards for occupants. USBE advises you to follow the recommendations and considerations outlined in the Healthy Buildings Reopening Checklist prior to reopening any building. This guidance comes from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality and the Utah Department of Health. 

Please contact Luke Treutel at the Department of Environmental Quality at (385) 258-6084 or ltreutel@utah.gov with any questions.

Additionally, the Utah Department of Health and Utah's 13 local health departments created the COVID-19 School Manual on August 6, 2020.

The school manual provides up-to-date recommendations to help school officials, teachers, and parents make informed decisions about how best to provide a safe learning environment for students and a safe workplace for teachers and employees. The considerations may change as we learn more about COVID-19. Schools and public health need to be willing to adapt to these changes as we learn more about the best ways to keep students, teachers, and employees safe and schools open for in-person learning.

Please contact the Utah Department of Health with any questions regarding the COVID-19 School Manual.

Note: USBE requirements and recommendations for School Reopening Plans are still in effect, as outlined in Utah Leads Together which is supported by Executive Order issued by the Governor. This document is not to be interpreted to replace/amend current state requirements for schools. Rather this manual is meant to act as additional public health items for consideration by school communities as we enter the 2020-2021 school year.

Three Phases Resource Hub

Resource Hub to Support Accelerating Student Learning

As Utah’s educators, families, and students continue to overcome disruption to their PreK-12 learning experiences, the Utah State Board of Education has curated high quality resources to support in accelerating student learning as we move through the phases of recovery. The resources are organized by the 13 elements of Utah’s Portrait of a Graduate.

Three Phases of Recovery: Resource Hub for Utah's Educators and Families

Assessment

The Utah State Board of Education has acquired several tools that Utah educators have been using to measure student learning and inform instruction in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics, and science. This resource is designed to provide additional details regarding those tools and how they fit into the phases of recovery.

Formative Assessment Tools

Essential Standards

The purpose of these essential standards is to provide educators with a prioritized list of standards to focus on during COVID-19. While all standards have value, COVID-19 may limit instructional hours. The essential standards are intended to help teachers identify which standards to focus on. While these are the essential standards, if there is more instructional time, the recommendation is to extend the instructional focus to all standards. These are resources and examples meant to guide local and individual teacher decisions on prioritizing instructional time throughout the pandemic.

Phase 1 Resources

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions and guidance documents below and navigate through the tabs for further information and resources.

Extended School “Soft Closure” Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Utah State Board of Education Guidance for 2019-2020 School Year Due to COVID-19

Guidance for Supporting Families during Remote Learning

Resources for Students and Families

Governance and Closure

A parent’s first resource for information about supporting their child in school should be the school itself (refer to the Utah State Board of Education Utah Schools Directory). State law gives school districts and charter schools a great amount of decision-making authority for school operation. The staff at the Utah State Board of Education can help with questions of state and federal education law, state administrative rule, state financial questions, and state learning standards.

The authority for closing and reopening schools statewide for public health reasons rests not with the Utah State Board of Education or the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but instead with the Utah Department of Health (Reference: Utah State Legislature, Title 26-1-30: Powers and Duties of Department), and, by extension, the Governor, who hires the executive director of the Department.

Local departments of health also have authority to close schools for public health reasons.

Governor Gary R Herbert’s Message to Utah Students
YouTube

Keeping Children Healthy

The Task Force also encourages outdoor exercise and walks as long as you maintain social distancing of 6 feet and avoid meeting in groups.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the following:

  • Watch your child for any signs of illness.
  • Watch for signs of stress in your child.
  • Teach and reinforce everyday preventive actions.
  • Help your child stay active.
  • Help your child stay socially connected.

Caring for Children: Tips to Keep Children Healthy While School’s Out
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Protect Yourself | Stay Safe, Stay Home Directive What Does it Mean and What Can You Do?
Coronavirus.utah.gov

Supporting Your Child During Remote Learning

For families seeking internet options to support digital learning and Utah solutions related to COVID-19:

For digital resources, please visit Utah Education Network’s Learn@Home, which provides links for PreK-Grade 12 teachers, students, and parents/caregivers.

A Parent's Guide to Student Data Privacy | Parents: Raise Your Hand and Ask Schools How They Protect Student Data
Student Privacy Compass

Be Internet Awesome | For Families
Google Safety Center

Free Digital Resources: Online Safety for Kids and Families
NetSmartz

Parent Guides from ConnectSafely

Student Privacy 101: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for Parents and Students
YouTube

Think Before You Link
Intel® Security Digital Safety Program

Resources for High School Students

Your best option is to check with your child’s school for questions on graduation, credit, and grades since all three of those areas are within the purview of school districts and charter schools. However, there are some areas where the Utah State Board of Education can be of assistance.

Earning Credits through Statewide Online Education Program (SOEP)

The Statewide Online Education Program provides 9-12 grade students with access to online learning regardless of where students attend school.

Statewide Online Education Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Student Information Flier | El Programa Estatal de Educación en Línea (SOEP)

American College Test (ACT) College Entrance Exam

Current high school juniors who did not take the ACT during the March testing window are eligible for a voucher from their school allowing them to register for tests scheduled:

  • June 13, 2020
  • July 18, 2020
  • September 12, 2020
  • October 24, 2020

Learn more about vouchers and registration dates:

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

College Board, the creators of AP exams, are allowing students to take AP exams online in May of this year. Exams are given on specific dates in May, so students should be prepared for the day of the exam.

Updates for AP Students Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) | Updates for AP Educators at Schools Affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19)
College Board

Concurrent Enrollment (CE)
Financial Aid Guidance

If a student withdraws from a Concurrent Enrollment class during COVID-19, this may or may not render them ineligible for federal financial aid when they enroll as an undergraduate student (depending on how many other college credits they have attempted and completed, also known as Satisfactory Academic Progress/SAP).

During this pandemic, colleges have been granted greater flexibility in granting SAP appeals. Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority (UHEAA) recently spoke with Utah college’s financial aid directors about this issue. They instruct that, if a senior withdraws from one or more Concurrent Enrollment courses during this time, they should contact the financial aid office at the college or university where they plan to enroll as a freshman to:

  1. check if the withdrawal(s) will drop them below their school’s SAP threshold and therefore render them ineligible for financial aid, and;
  2. complete an SAP appeal if the withdrawal did render them ineligible.
Grading/Withdrawal Guidance

Because of the circumstances sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah System of Higher Education (USHE) institutions will be granting students the option of alternatives to letter grades for certain Spring 2020 courses, as determined by academic departments. This will include CE courses. If a Concurrent Enrollment student opts for one of these alternative grades Spring 2020, that grade must be recorded on both the institution and the high school transcript.

Each institution has set deadlines for choosing an alternative grade option. Institutions are also extending the deadline for withdrawing from Spring 2020 courses. Pass (P) or Credit (CR) grades, as well as a Withdrawal (W) grade will not affect grade point average (GPA).

Deadlines and Alternative Grading Options Offered by Each USHE Institution 

We want CE students to complete their spring courses and earn college credit. For students for whom the transition from classroom to remote instruction has disrupted their ability to complete coursework, a P or CR option provides credit without negatively affecting GPA. Because opting for a grade or withdrawing from a CE courses can impact future postsecondary work from financial aid and scholarship eligibility to requirements for specific majors, and because each Utah college or university has different deadlines and different alternative grade options, CE students are strongly advised to speak with a campus advisor before choosing an option other than a letter grade.

For information or assistance in completing Spring 2020 courses, please contact the Utah State Board of Education Concurrent Enrollment section.

If you have concerns about how this may affect a family member’s NCAA scholarship, please see this page for further details and contact your campus advisor.

National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Eligibility

The NCAA is offering guidance for graduating students who are concerned about their eligibility this fall:

State Waivers – Continuity of Education Plans

The Utah State Board of Education (Board) has waived several administrative rules in light of national and state declarations of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, the Utah State Legislature has amended several state laws in response to the pandemic.

On March 19, the Board waived certain rules (Motion to Waive Board Rule Provisions due to COVID-19), including instructional day and hour requirements, transportation requirements, and extending deadlines for various programs that fall between April and May. These waivers are effective immediately and in place through June 30, 2020.

Local Education Agencies (LEAs) are required to submit a continuity of education plan to the Utah State Board of Education as a condition of the waiver allowing an exemption from R277-419: Pupil Accounting which requires schools to provide 180 days and 990 hours of instruction. Please use the following template, School Closure Continuity of Education Plan, which includes the following items:

  • The name of the school(s) within LEA;
  • Whether the school is utilizing e-learning and steps being taken to ensure equity;
  • If the school is not utilizing e-learning, whether the school is providing other continuity of education efforts;
  • Special Education Services being provided;
  • Whether the school is providing students with meals;
  • Athletics, activities, and events planning;
  • Staffing plan (work with your corresponding associations and leadership);
  • Additional information unique to your LEA;
  • LEA contact information.

Please submit plans to cvplan@schools.utah.gov.

On April 2, the Board voted to waive several additional rules (Motion to Waive Board Rule Provisions due to COVID-19) dealing with teachers, professional staff, and teacher candidates to allow districts, charter schools, teachers, and teacher candidates the flexibility they need to continue serving students or maintain their licenses amid the restrictions imposed by pandemic response.

On April 16, the Board voted to waive additional rules (Motion to Waive Board Rule Provisions due to COVID-19). The waivers include extending deadlines for renewing or upgrading certain types of educator licenses, waiving educator evaluation reporting requirements, and extending deadlines for approving School LAND Trust plans.

On May 7, the Board voted to waive additional rules (Motion to Waive Board Rule Provisions due to COVID-19). The waivers include reporting rules on early literacy goals, accreditation reports for a school in its first year of operation, delaying completion deadlines for driver education courses, and extending the deadline for participation in the Carson Smith Scholarship Program.

State Law

The Utah State Legislature's Senate Bill 3005: Pandemic Response and Consultation Act, which was passed on April 17, amends several provisions to address the interruption of face-to-face K12 educational services as a result of COVID-19, including:

  • waiving the requirement to pass a basic civics test or alternate assessment as a condition of graduation for certain students graduating between January 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020;
  • waiving the requirement for school districts to complete employee evaluations for the 2019-2020 school year; and
  • waiving statutory requirements to administer assessments not administered before school closures on March 16, 2020.

To waive the requirement to pass the basic civics test, an LEA must submit an application to USBE that includes an explanation for why the student was unable to complete the basic civics test due to public health related school closures. 

Applications must be submitted to USBE through the Civics Test Graduation Requirement Waiver Google Doc. To be considered for the May 7, 2020 USBE meeting, the application must be received before 3 p.m. on April 28, 2020. To be considered for the June 4, 2020 Board meeting, the application must be received before 3 p.m. on May 26, 2020.

Please direct any questions on the civics test waiver request process to Robert Austin at robert.austin@schools.utah.gov.

Federal Waivers

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title Programs

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) has sought and received waivers from the United States Department of Education regarding several fiscal provisions and provisions related to assessment and accountability. The document below provides detail on the fiscal provisions that have been waived. Please see the Assessment tab on this webpage for more detail on the assessment and accountability waiver.

Elementary Secondary Education Act (ESEA)/Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Waiver Guidance

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) School Meals Programs

USDA is granting states significant program flexibilities and contingencies to best serve program participants across nutrition programs. The document below provides detail on the waivers and flexibilities that school food authorities may apply for. Please see the School Meals tab on this webpage below for an interactive map of locations offering school meals throughout the state.

Nationally Approved Waivers and Flexibilities for State Agencies and Local Child Nutrition Program Sponsors

Perkins Act (Career and Technical Education Programs)

USBE is seeking a waiver from the USED Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) on behalf of the State Educational Agency (SEA) and its subgrantees (e.g., Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), other agencies and organizations, and institutions of higher education) of section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA), to extend the period of availability of Fiscal Year 2018 funds for programs in which the SEA participates as the eligible agency until September 30, 2021. Please see the USBE Perkins V webpage for more information.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Funding 

Introduction

On March 17, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Among other things, CARES allocated about $13.2 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

Through the fund the United States Department of Education awarded grants to state educational agencies to provide Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), or school districts and charter schools) with emergency relief funds to address the impact of COVID-19 on elementary and secondary schools.

ESSER Fund awards to state education agencies are in the same proportion as each state received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 in fiscal year 2019.

Utah received $67,821,787 in ESSER Funding. Of that, $61,039,608 will be distributed to the state’s district and charter schools according to the funding formula. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) will reserve $6,782,179 to deal with statewide needs or specific needs within the state.

The ESSER Fund provides LEAs considerable flexibility in determining how best to use ESSER funds. Allowable uses of the funds include the following:

  1. Any activity authorized by the ESEA of 1965, including the
    1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.),
    2. Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.),
    3. Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 (20 U.S.C. 2301 et seq.) (‘‘the Perkins Act’’), and
    4. subtitle B of title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11431 et seq.)
  2. Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.
  3. Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools.
  4. Activities to address the unique needs of students living in conditions of poverty, students with disabilities, students learning English, students experiencing homelessness, students who are refugees, and youth in foster care.
  5. Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies.
  6. Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
  7. Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean LEA facilities, including personal protective equipment.
  8. Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
  9. Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
  10. Providing mental health services and supports.
  11. Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs and addressing the needs of students living in conditions of poverty, students with disabilities, students learning English, students experiencing homelessness, students who are refugees, and youth in foster care.
  12. Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.

Please see below for USBE suggested CARES Act (ESSER) funding uses and other background information.

USBE Suggested CARES Act Uses

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the CARES Act
United States Congress

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund | ESSER Fund State Allocation Table
United States Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)

Local Education Agency (LEA) Cares Act Funding
Tableau

Utah School Districts and Charter Schools’ Distributions

More Information

The United States Department of Education has prepared a frequently asked questions document that covers application process, timelines, and allowable uses, among other items.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund)
United States Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)

Digital Teaching and Learning

Many Local Education Agencies (LEAs) have requested additional guidance regarding the feasibility and legality of providing online learning given the extended school dismissal.

The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) urges LEAs to consider the following recommendations in providing electronic or distance learning services during the dismissal:

  • Ensure all students will have equal access to the learning and required materials, including technology.
  • Ensure the online learning system can effectively support the district’s different learning and teaching needs, including the ability to provide differentiated instruction as well as one-on-one support for students who need it. Regardless of where the learning is happening, supports identified on a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be provided if the LEA is operating.
  • Provide training to staff, students, and parents and guardians on how the system works and what expectations the LEA has.
  • Maintain the ability to track the attendance of both students and staff.
  • Ensure the systems in use are secure and will not allow for the release of protected student or staff information.

Taking a traditional school environment online is not a simple task– nor is it one that should be attempted without serious consideration of the practicality and risk.

For digital resources please visit Utah Education Network’s Learn@Home, which provides links for PreK-Grade 12 teachers, students, and parents/caregivers.

For families that are seeking internet options to support digital learning, please visit the following link for Utah solutions related to COVID-19.

Statewide Connectivity and Learning Resources to Support Students During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Utah Communities Connect Wifi Locations
Exterior WiFi available at designated public locations. Remember to maintain a safe social distance of 6 feet.

Summer Meals

Summer Meals MapUnited States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services

Continuity of Food Services

Continuity of food services, particularly for our most vulnerable students and families, is an important consideration. As we continue to transition into the recovery phase with COVID-19, the Summer meals programs will now be offered at not only school sites, but other locations within communities of need.  The map provided lists all Summer meal locations and is updated weekly. 

Partner and Community Resources

United Way 2.1.1

Utah Food Bank

Commodity Food Supplemental Program (CFSP)

Find a Food Pantry

Utahns Against Hunger

Waiver Resources

Child Nutrition Program State by State COVID-19 Waivers
United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service 

Remote Learning and Student Confidentiality

This document contains best practices in accordance with federal and state law. Local policies can be stricter than what is found in this guidance, so please consult your local policies as well.

May educators use web conferencing software to hold a virtual class?

In general, yes. Providing instruction and allowing students to converse with each other does not generally constitute a disclosure of education records protected by Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). Educators should avoid disclosing information from education records in a virtual class just the same as they would during an in-person class. As a best practice, educators should take care to ensure that access to the virtual class is secure. For example, there have been cases where educators have publicly posted the link to access the class in a public forum, like Twitter, which has allowed individuals not associated with the class to access it and even in some cases hijack the class with inappropriate content. As a best practice, directions (with hyperlinks) should be posted either to a student calendar or directly within the Learning Management System (LMS) (Canvas or Google Classroom).

Which privacy/security requirements must be met for web conferencing or other software to be approved?

This question is best answered by the Local Education Agencies (LEAs) data manager or IT director. In general, not every usage of an online service means information is disclosed from an education record. For example, asking students to view a video on YouTube generally would not require any information to be disclosed from education records. If Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is disclosed, but only directory information is disclosed (e.g., a login is created to access a resource library), then you may use the resource in accordance with your directory information policy. If PII is disclosed, you should also consider if it is a general audience website (i.e., not specifically intended for K-12 audiences). If it is for general audiences, for example, a website like Zoom, then you only need to ensure that the website does not claim control/ownership over the information and that they do not redisclose the PII. If it is an educational website receiving PII, certain requirements will need to appear in the online agreement. This can be handled by having the provider sign a Data Privacy Agreement (DPA). It is also possible that they may meet the audit requirement in other ways, such as by publicly posting the results of a self-assessment of their privacy policies (e.g., if they have signed the Student Privacy Pledge or if they have been reviewed by a Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) safe harbor (e.g., Privo, iKeepSafe, TrustArc).

How can we learn more about the specific security and privacy functions of our virtual learning software?

In some cases, the company will have specific tutorials, blogs, or other resources to explain the specific functionality. For example:

Is it an issue if the software an educator wants to use includes a lot of advertisements?

Advertising is a common part of the internet, and not all advertising is based on gathering information on a student over time and building an advertising profile (also known as behavioral advertising). Some advertisements appear contextually (e.g., if you go to a website for movie reviews, you will see advertisements for movies). The mere fact that advertising appears does not mean a student’s privacy is being violated. The only way this can be determined is by reviewing the company’s privacy policy and determining what information they use to provide advertising. Another solution is to have the vendor sign the Utah Student Privacy Alliance’s DPA, which includes provisions prohibiting behavioral advertising. Educators should also consider that websites that serve large numbers of pop-up ads may have other security issues. Students may be directed to update their browser settings to block pop-up ads (though note that in most modern browsers, this is the default setting). If the problem persists despite doing all of the above, then the website likely should be avoided. Districts should investigate installing adblockers on district-owned devices and if possible through their google suite for educators.

Is it an issue if parents or other individuals in the home can observe the virtual class?

This is a local decision. FERPA does not relate to physical classroom observations, and the same applies to virtual classrooms.

If educators hold a virtual class, may students appear on camera?

In general, yes. Educators should recommend and encourage some best practices to parents related to web conferencing. For example, since video will be taken in the student’s home, the camera should be positioned to ensure that nothing too personal is captured in the video. Students may be interacting with the class on a smartphone or easily portable device. Students could be reminded to not take the device (or at the very least turn off the camera and mute the microphone) if going into personal spaces, such as the bathroom. Teachers should also be respectful if parents desire not to turn on the camera so as to protect their privacy. Furthermore, educators should learn how to control the functionality of the software. For example, web conferencing software can be set so that no student can enter the room before the educator (which will minimize distracting conversations). It can also be set so that cameras and microphones default to off for all participants.

May an educator record a virtual class session?

In general, yes. If doing so, the educator should be transparent about it (i.e., every participant should know the session is being recorded). The educator should also be transparent about the purpose of the recording (e.g., it will be available so any students who missed the lesson may catch up) and who will be able to access the recording (e.g., if anyone else at the school, such as the principal or a supervisor, can access it). The educator should also indicate how long the recording will be maintained before it is deleted.

When may an educator have a one-on-one conversation with a student using web conferencing software?

This is part of the larger question of when is it appropriate for educators to have one-on-one conversations with students in general. Before conducting one-on-one conversations, we recommend that educators review their relevant ethics policies and standards related to communicating with students. Otherwise, educators should use approved methods for communication (e.g., work email address, not a personal one, etc.). The content of the intended conversation also determines the best way to proceed. Answering content-related questions or providing one-on-one help likely does not implicate any privacy laws. If the purpose is to discuss information from education records (e.g., discussing issues with grades), extra care should be taken to ensure that the conversation is private (e.g., asking that other individuals in the home not be present). As a best practice, teachers may consider holding virtual office hours (i.e., have a specific set of hours where they will be available on the web conference to answer questions and be available to students). It is also highly recommended that educators log a record of all one-on-one conversations (e.g., when they started and finished, what was discussed) and make those available to the student and parent.

Is it a problem for educators to publicly post on social media a picture of their entire class together on a web conference (including student pictures and names in the process)?

This likely constitutes a disclosure of directory information, the same as would appear in a yearbook or a class photo. Educators should consult their LEA’s directory information policy and ensure that the disclosure is permitted. They should also check to see if any students have been opted out of directory information disclosures and then ensure that those students are not included in the image. Educators could also consider simply not making the photo public, but rather just sharing with class parents (the exact same as generally occurs when sharing a class photo).

May we share student contact information with classmates so they may stay in touch during the soft closure? 

In general, yes, parents may request the contact information of their child’s peers, and schools may generally share it with them. In all cases, a school may disclose a student’s email address to a classmate. They may also disclose a student’s phone number unless the parent has opted out of the disclosure in accordance with the school’s directory information policy.

May we disclose student personally identifiable information to outside entities addressing the COVID-19 outbreak? 

Under FERPA, schools may share student information with public health officials and other outside entities in situations where there is a significant and articulable threat to the health and safety of students and others in the school community. FERPA and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Frequently Asked Questions from the United States Department of Education discusses various scenarios and issues related to making disclosures using FERPA’s health and safety exception during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

Additional Resources

United States Department of Education: 

A Parent's Guide to Student Data Privacy | Parents: Raise Your Hand and Ask Schools How They Protect Student Data
Student Privacy Compass

Be Internet Awesome | For Families
Google Safety Center

Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and Virtual Learning
YouTube

Free Digital Resources: Online Safety for Kids and Families
NetSmartz

Parent Guides from ConnectSafely

Student Privacy 101: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) for Parents and Students
YouTube

Think Before You Link
Intel® Security Digital Safety Program

Contact Information

If you have additional questions, please e-mail privacy@schools.utah.gov, call (801) 538-7523 or e-mail Todd Call at todd.call@schools.utah.gov.

Assessment

On March 20, 2020 the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) suspended the requirements for schools to administer statewide assessments for the 2019-2020 school year and directed the Superintendent to pursue all related and necessary waivers with the United States Department of Education and engage with legislators to exempt the Board and schools from administering statewide assessments through legislation if needed.

Utah State Board of Education Votes to Waive Requirements and Suspend Assessment Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
Utah State Board of Education Public Relations

Waiver Application Process

The United States Department of Education (USED) released a consolidated and expedited waiver process on flexibility for states on Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Assessment and Accountability Requirements. On March 20, 2020, Utah submitted its waiver request to USED. Utah received formal approval of the waiver request from USED on March 27, 2020.

Dear Chief State School Officer
March 20, 2020

ESEA Waiver Request

USED Approval Letter

The consolidated waiver application process includes the requirement that state education entities provide notice of the submission of the waiver as well as an opportunity for the public to comment on the request. The details of the request and a tool for submitting comments can be found at:

Utah Assessment and Accountability Public Comment
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The public comment window will be available until April 21, 2020.

Supporting Mental Health and Social Emotional Needs

Self-Care

Please be mindful to take care of yourself first. It is not selfish to refill your own cup so that you can pour into others. Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it's a simple concept in theory, it's something we very often overlook. Reference the flyer below for self-care strategies.

Strategies for Personal Self-Care

Estrategias para el Cuidado Personal

School Counseling Resources

School Counseling staff at the Utah State Board of Education have compiled a resource guide for school counselors, administrators, families and students. Resources include:

  • Information for Students about COVID-19
  • Student Check-In Requests for School Counseling
  • College and Career Resources for Families
  • Social and Emotional Resources for Families
  • Tele-Counseling Guidelines
  • Virtual School Counseling
  • Virtual Professional Development Opportunities
  • Strategies for School Counselor Self-Care

School Counseling Resources Guide

Addressing Students' Fears and Anxieties

Regular communication is a great tool to prevent misconception and fear. Providing staff, parents, and students with as much information as possible will help misinformation and fear from taking hold. Educational agencies must also keep in mind privacy restrictions and the importance of confidentiality when sharing details on those who have any disease.

It is important to remember that children look to adults for guidance on how to react to stressful events. If staff, parents, or guardians seem overly worried, a student’s anxiety may rise. However, students also need factual, age appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk and concrete instruction about how to avoid infections and spread of disease. Teaching students positive preventive measures, talking with them about their fears, and giving them a sense of some control over their risk of infection can help reduce anxiety.

The following are some specific guidelines from both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) on how to talk to students about COVID-19:

Remain calm and reassuring.

  • Students will react to and follow your verbal and nonverbal reactions.
  • What you say and do about COVID-19, current prevention efforts, and related events can either increase or decrease student anxiety.
  • Remind students that you and the adults at their school are there to keep them safe and healthy.
  • Let your students talk about their feelings and help reframe their concerns into the appropriate perspective.

Make yourself available.

  • Students may need extra attention from you and may want to talk about their concerns, fears, and questions.
  • It is important that they know they have someone who will listen to them; make time for them.

Avoid excessive blaming.

  • It is important to avoid stereotyping any one group of people as responsible for the virus.
  • Bullying or negative comments made toward others should be stopped and reported to administration, immediately.
  • Be aware of any comments that other staff are making in front of students.
  • Intentionally and persistently combat bias and stigma.

Monitor television viewing and social media.

  • Speak to students about how many stories about COVID-19 on the internet or television may be based on rumors and inaccurate information.
  • Talk to your students about factual information of this disease—this can help reduce anxiety.
  • Constantly watching updates on the status of COVID-19 can increase anxiety—avoid this.
  • Be aware that developmentally inappropriate information (i.e., information designed for adults) can cause anxiety or confusion, particularly in younger students.

Maintain a normal routine to the extent possible.

  • Keep to a regular schedule, as this can be reassuring and promotes physical health.
  • Encourage students to keep up with their schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but don’t push them if they seem overwhelmed.

Be honest and accurate.

  • Don’t ignore student concerns, but rather explain that at the present moment very few people in this country are sick with COVID-19.
  • Children can be told this disease is thought to be spread between people who are in close contact with one another—when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  
  • It is also thought it can be spread when you touch an infected surface or object, which is why it is so important to protect yourself.

School resources to promote healthy habits for young students can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)website

Considerations to Address Student-Specific Needs

Title III: English Learners (ELs), Immigrants and Refugees

Remote Learning
Utah State Board of Education Title III: English Learners (ELs), Immigrants and Refugees

New Multilingual Videos Available to Encourage Mask Wearing

A new series of short videos has been created in native refugee languages to encourage mask wearing. We would especially like to thank Refugee Services staff and State of Utah colleagues who volunteered their talents to translate the scripts and participate in the videos. Please share these with your networks. 

Greater Good (English) | Greater Good (Arabic) | Greater Good (French) | Greater Good (Kinyarwanda) | Greater Good (Nepali) | Greater Good (Somali) | Greater Good (Spanish)
YouTube

Questions?

For communications and general questions regarding this bulletin, please contact us at coronavirus@schools.utah.gov.

Archived

Overview

The Utah Department of Health continues to lead the state of Utah’s response to COVID-19. For the most up-to-date information, please consult the state's website at coronavirus.utah.gov.

The state of Utah’s COVID-19 Task Force is continuously meeting to plan and coordinate ongoing state response. The Utah State Board of Education (USBE) is participating on this task force. We expect to provide additional information and updated guidance specific to schools and families, as the situation progresses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently released Interim Guidance for Administrators of United States Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools, as well as instructions for Travelers from Countries with Widespread Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission Arriving in the United States (currently China, Iran, Italy and South Korea). Please review this information as you plan and prepare at both the school and district level.

If a school-sanctioned trip has recently returned from travel in China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea, please call the Utah Department of Health at (888) epi-utah (374-8824). If others in your school community have traveled to any of these countries, they should let the Health Department know by calling the same number.

Cleaning and Disinfecting on School Grounds

The Utah Department of Health is asking schools to follow general preventative guidance from the CDC to help keep COVID-19 from spreading: Stay home if you are sick, use and reinforce routine cough and handwashing hygiene measures.

In addition, using third-party certified cleaning products, frequently clean areas that experience high traffic for both students and staff. Disinfect areas and frequently touched surfaces such as bathrooms, nurse’s offices, cafeterias, drinking fountains and door handles. Make sure that school custodial staff are trained in the proper use and handling of disinfectants.

It is everyone’s responsibility to maintain a clean environment and practice good hygiene.

Additionally, follow CDC’s guidance Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting community facilities, such as schools.

Excused and Unexcused Absences

We know that fears may be high as identified cases increase, particularly for families with loved ones living in the home who have a compromised immune system. Please exercise great caution before deciding not to excuse absences related to COVID-19 and starting the truancy process because of them.

Given the urgent and rapidly changing landscape due to the spread of the coronavirus, USBE is working with stakeholders and the Governor‘s Office to ensure that absences relating to public health emergencies are not counted toward the definition of chronic, or an unexcused, absence.

Additionally, a parent may hold their student out of school for health and safety reasons. Each Local Education Agency (LEA) is the ultimate arbiter as to whether the reason is truly a health/safety issue. Absences for health/safety issues should not be counted as unexcused and any such student should not be labeled truant.

Absences related to the 14-day quarantine protocol related to recent travel warnings, as provided by the (CDC, should also be excused.

At this time, please avoid giving rewards or incentives to students and staff for perfect attendance.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you suggest we respond to rumors about the spread of COVID-19?

The best antidote to rumor is fact. When you communicate with your community, continue to remind them that the State of Utah’s COVID-19 Community Task Force About Novel Coronavirus website is the best place to find up to date information and guidance on the novel coronavirus, including guidance direct from the CDC.

What if a student is exposed?

If a student has been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 or has recently traveled to areas with community transmission and is showing symptoms place the student in a room with the door closed. Have a parent or guardian contact their doctor before going to a clinic. The school should then notify the local health department.

Due to the community spread of the virus, when cases in our towns are identified, do you recommend School closure?

Deciding to close a school is a local decision, and one that USBE will not provide the directive on, especially if it is a public health concern. In the case of COVID-19, the decision to close a school would come from the local public health officials. USBE will be publishing considerations on potential school closure thresholds. For now, the Health Department advises that schools treat COVID-19 prevention as they would any other respiratory disease.

What if a parent is requesting student contact information, that is not their own student/child?

There have been recent questions regarding parents being able to request contact information (phone number, e-mail address) of their child’s peers so that they can stay in touch during the soft closure of schools. Schools in Utah generally have a directory information policy, which allows them to share directory information (such as name, e-mail address, or phone number). In general, a parent may opt out of certain parts of directory information (such as the phone number), but may not opt out of having a student’s e-mail address disclosed within the class.

Because of this, parents may request the contact information of their child’s peers, and schools may generally share it with them. In all cases, a school may disclose a student’s email address to a classmate. They may also disclose a student’s phone number unless the parent has opted out of the disclosure.

Why is the guidance we're receiving now different than it was before?

COVID-19 response in Utah will be a rapidly evolving situation. There will be updates to guidance from the CDC, the Health Department and USBE in the coming days and weeks, and the updated guidance will from time-to-time contradict and therefore supersede previous guidance. As the global and local spread of the disease changes, as state and local plans are put into place and enacted, and as our knowledge of COVID-19 itself becomes more sophisticated, we will work with oversight from the COVID-19 Task Force to provide you the most up-to-date information possible.

We know that managing uncertainty is challenging and thank you for your partnership in responding promptly and appropriately to this situation as it unfolds.

Information for Families

As you communicate with your communities about COVID-19, we continue to recommend that you emphasize common disease prevention measures as the best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Many of the precautions that help prevent other respiratory diseases, like colds and the flu, can also help keep an illness like COVID-19 from spreading. This printable poster from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Stop the Spread of Germs, contains the most important points:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your sleeve or a tissue. Throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Additionally, the resources in this guide are intended to help parents, guardians, and families understand the school’s role during a closure, commitments to students, and what making days up at the end of the school year looks like at the moment:

Translated Materials

The CDC has provided materials specific to COVID-19 in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese:

Additionally, the resources in this guide are intended to help parents, guardians, and families understand the school’s role during a closure, commitments to students, and what making days up at the end of the school year looks like at the moment:

Travel Guidance

Students and staff planning or returning from travel should consult the CDC Coronavirus Disease 2019 Information for Travel website. It lists geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission and compiles the CDC’s official COVID-19 warnings and alerts related to nonessential travel. The Frequently Asked Questions and Answers sections on Canceling or Postponing Travel, Air or Cruise Travel and Returning from Travel may be particularly informative.

Anyone whose last day in one of the affected countries, or outbreak areas within the United States, was March 4 or afterwards, should stay home and monitor their health for 14 days before returning to work/school. The Utah Department of Health is asking travelers returning from those countries, as well as Japan, to reach out to them by calling (800) 456-7707 for further preventative instructions.

The decision to postpone or cancel travel for work or school-related functions is to be made at the local level. LEAs have the authority to provide this guidance to staff and students as the situation evolves. Please work directly with your Local Health Department for further information regarding non-essential travel.