Weekly NewsBrief 10/19/20 - 10/25/20

News Clip


Idaho families can get thousands to help with education costs – By Eric Grossarth, East Idaho News

Idaho families can receive up to $3,500 to purchase or receive reimbursement for educational materials, technology or services through a website launching Wednesday.

In September, Gov. Brad Little announced the Strong Families, Strong Students initiative utilizing $50 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds. Since the announcement, the State Board of Education has approved a contract with a third-party vendor, allowing the Wednesday launch of strongfamlies.idaho.gov.

“When parents have to step in to provide instruction and equipment due to school-related closures, we see them pushed out of the workforce – something that strains our economic rebound, Little said in a news release Monday announcing the website.

The website will allow eligible parents to apply for $1,500 per eligible student with a maximum award of $3,500 per family. The money can be used to purchase or receive reimbursement for eligible educational materials, devices and services.

Eligible items include computers, software, other devices including adaptive learning technology, internet connectivity, instructional materials, and fees for courses, tutoring services, educational services and therapies, and licensed daycare during work hours.


Amid COVID pandemic, New Jersey names new state education commissioner, WABC News

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday he was nominating Angelica Allen-McMillan to be the state's next education commissioner.

The appointment comes as the states' more than 600 school districts work through the COVID-19 outbreak, with many holding online-only or hybrid lessons.

"A product of New Jersey's public schools, Angelica has worked at all levels of education and knows exactly what our teachers and students need to succeed," Murphy said. "She is an exemplary educator, and I'm confident she is the leader we need to carry our school communities through the remainder of this pandemic and beyond."

Allen-McMillan will succeed Lamont Repollet, who announced his plan to leave over the summer to take the top post at Kean University.


State Education Board Meeting to Address District  Exemptions, Teacher Evaluations, Oil City News

The Wyoming State Board of Education (SBE) will meet Oct. 26 to “take action to extend the emergency rules allowing school districts to request an exception to state accountability requirements for the 2020-21 school year,” according to an SBE release Monday.

“Additionally, the SBE will take action on the teacher evaluation systems that have been recommended for approval by the Wyoming Department of Education and the establishment of an updated protocol for email communications with the board,” the release said.

The SBE will also convene as the State Board of Vocational Education in order to receive a quarterly update on career and technical education activities from the Wyoming Department of Education. A presentation by LoveTrades will also occur during this meeting.

Those interested in attending the online Zoom meeting beginning at 9:00 am, October 26 should register in advance. After registering, participants will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the session. 


CDC Clarifies '15-Minute Rule' for Social Distancing – By Sarah D. Sparks, Ed Week

There's no reset button on COVID-19 exposure.

That's the concern underlying new changes to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definitions and guidance on social distancing during the pandemic, which will likely mean changes in some schools' approach to preventing or tracing coronavirus outbreaks and significantly more students being identified for quarantine. 

The CDC now defines a "close contact" of someone with COVID-19 as anyone who was within six feet of someone infected for a total of 15 minutes over the course of 24 hours. For example, if a student came into contact with a sick classmate three times during a school day, for five minutes each time, he would be asked to stay home and isolate himself for 14 days, while checking for fever, coughing, and other symptoms of COVID-19. Students and adults in schools would need to go into quarantine if they had close contact from two days before the infected person showed symptoms (or within two days of being tested, if the person had no symptoms) until the infected person started quarantine. 

Previously, a close contact was someone who was close to an infected person for 15 minutes continuously, a rule that has led to confusion in schools about how best to limit exposure. For example, the Iowa Department of Public Health's Medical Director Caitlin Pedati came out publically to discourage schools from using a so-called "COVID shuffle"—in which students are asked to get up and move around every 10-14 minutes to avoid students being close to one another for more than 15 minutes at a time

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