Most Recent Information—
Governor OKs Board of Education Reopening Requirements, Recommendations – June 29, 2020
Press Release from the Utah State Board of Education
Gov. Gary R. Herbert approved the Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Planning Requirements and Recommendations for K-12 School Reopening to be included with the state’s Phased Guidelines for the General Public and Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Reactivation. USBE requires all Utah public schools to create reopening plans and post them on school websites by August 1.
“We appreciate the thought, care, and work that went into these requirements and recommendations,” the Governor said. “And we appreciate that so many health care professionals, teachers, administrators, parents, classified workers and others devoted their energies into creating these guidelines to help keep our children and our school employees safe and healthy this coming academic year.”
The newly approved requirements and recommendations constitute an addendum to the Phased Guidelines. They help school districts and charter schools define what to do, but also enable adaptability and innovation at the local level in determining how to make schools safe this fall.
“We will be digitally meeting with local school leaders throughout the state shortly to provide tools for applying appropriate principles and levers to mitigate risk of spread in school-specific settings,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sydnee Dickson. “We have innovative problem solvers working in our public schools and we will work with districts and charter schools as they create their plans to keep our students and staff safe this coming school year.”
UEA provides Governor and State Board with safety priorities for returning to school, State Board adjusts recommendations – June 25, 2020
With the Governor and Utah State Board of Education (USBE) poised to provide guidelines for students to return to schools this fall, the UEA provided its own ‘Recommendations on School Reopening During COVID-19.’
In her cover letter to Gov. Gary Herbert dated June 24, UEA President Heidi Matthews wrote, “In a time of teacher shortage, the state must establish clear requirements to ensure educators feel confident and safe returning to their classroom. Additionally, clear requirements ensure teachers can focus on teaching rather than enforcing inconsistent or arbitrary policies like when and where students wear masks or maintaining six feet of physical separation between the teacher and student or among students.”
In a letter to the USBE dated June 18, UEA Director of Education Excellence and Government Relations Sara Jones wrote, “As the Board finalizes guidance for schools to re-open in the fall, the UEA asks you to incorporate the attached items. Earlier drafts of the guidance document create too much ambiguity. It is imperative there be clear requirements from the Board to protect the health and safety of students and employees in schools.”
During its June 25 meeting, USBE voted to add several recommendations to its School Reopening Plans Requirements and Recommendations (pdf). The requirements adopted by the Board in its June 18 meeting are being considered by Gov. Herbert and the Utah Leads Together Committee for incorporation into the state’s color-coded Phased Guidelines for the General Public and Businesses to Maximize Public Health and Economic Reactivation.
The requirements and recommendations are to assist districts and charter schools in creating local plans to assess and mitigate risks from COVID-19 as schools reopen for in-person instruction this fall. According to USBE, 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.
Utah plans to ‘physically bring students…safely back to school in fall 2020’ – May 21, 2020
According to a report released May 20 by the Utah Economic Response Task Force, “the state has plans to physically bring students in kindergarten through post-secondary education safely back to school in fall 2020.”
The report, titled 'Utah Leads Together III, Utah’s plan for a health and economic recovery,' says, “depending on the evolving situation regarding the pandemic, there may be waves of stopping and starting, partial or staggered openings, other scheduling adjustments such as earlier or later start dates and times, or other developments determined by local health departments, population vulnerability, and more.”
While short on details, the report notes that, “guidance, which will be provided by the Utah State Board of Education in collaboration with local education leaders and state and local health departments, will steer and support schools in developing individualized plans to address health and safety as well as educational needs.”
Measures will include expanded contact tracing and proactive testing, the report says.
NEA COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants available to all member educators – April 28, 2020
In response to educators’ emerging needs, addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning, the NEA Foundation is offering three new grant opportunities. The purpose of the NEA Foundation’s Rapid Response Funding is to support educator-led initiatives to adapt to the unique circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic during the summer months of 2020, for instance:
- Addressing the social and emotional needs of educators, students, and students’ families;
- Learning new pedagogy and/or adapting curricula to support distance/virtual learning and instruction;
- Addressing students’ summer learning loss;
- Preparing for the transition back to traditional schooling or adapting to continued virtual schooling;
- Supporting students’ parents’/caregivers’ efforts to support their children’s learning (via virtual class instruction or summer enrichment activities); and
- Meeting the nutritional needs of students who rely on school meals and school-based summer feeding programs.
Proposed projects must also identify and note how the proposed project addresses contributors to educational inequity and educational opportunity gaps. Grant guidelines, including the criteria and timelines, are available here
UEA legal counsel answers questions about distance learning – April 23, 2020
There are many questions about supporting students through “virtual” learning. Does holding virtual classes breach privacy laws? Who can appear on camera? When can I have a one-on-one conversation with a student using conferencing software? What about copyright infringement? Be sure you’re protected by reviewing the UEA Frequently Asked Questions and Best Practices for Distance Learning, provided by UEA General Counsel Tracey Watson.
UEA webinars support educator self-care and distance learning – April 20, 2020
The current working situation is stressful, especially for educators. Fear and anxiety about disease is overwhelming and the transition to remote learning is causing strong emotions in teachers and students. Learn to effectively cope during these trying times during UEA-member developed webinars, exclusively for UEA members. Topics vary by week. View upcoming topics and pre-register at myUEA.org/webinars.
State Board waives educator evaluation requirements – April 17, 2020
During its April 16 online meeting, the Utah State Board of Education waived additional Administrative Rules in light of the national and state declarations of state of emergency due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The waivers include:
- R277-531-3 and R277-533-9 dealing with educator evaluation reporting requirements.
- Granting the Superintendent authority to extend for up to one year, international guest teacher licenses that expire on June 30, 2020.
- R277-477-3(10) which extends to September 15 the deadline for school district School LAND Trust plans to be approved by a district’s local school board.
- Extending the deadline and requirements for an educator expecting to upgrade the educator’s license to October 31.
- View the complete April 16 State School Board meeting summary
Emergency Special Session of the Legislature to deal with COVID-19 issues – April 16, 2020
The Legislature will begin an historic online-only special session to deal with the impacts of COVID-19 beginning April 16 at 9 a.m. You can watch the proceedings on their website. The session could go for up to 10 days and for the first time will be held entirely online. This also marks the first time the Legislature has called itself into Special Session.
School ‘soft closure’ to continue through remainder of the academic year – April 14, 2020
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and State Superintendent Syd Dickson announced that Utah’s K-12 public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-20 academic year. The announcement was made during the daily COVID-19 briefing at the Utah State Capitol.
“This is not the time to have our schools back open in those crowded rooms we have,” Gov. Herbert said. “I think everyone understands the challenge we face and the reason for it.” He added that classes will move forward online with printed packets or other assignments, as they have since March 16. School districts will still provide meals for students who need them, he said.
“I want to thank our students for being resilient. I want to thank our teachers for being so creative, dedicated and hardworking, and I want to thank our parents for being flexible,” said Supt. Dickson. “They carry a heavy load trying to be teachers, breadwinners and supports to their families. We just want to thank everybody who has leaned in to continue on in this new now as we move into the near future.”
Supt. Dickson listed five areas of concern: Feeding students in need, making sure learning continues, helping seniors graduate and transition into higher education and the work force, providing for the social and emotional needs of families and teachers, and making sure employees can still be employed and paid, including bus drivers and para-educators.
Federal Coronavirus Response Act provides expanded leave benefits – April 10, 2020
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act requires certain employers to provide their employees with paid sick leave and expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. Generally, employers must provide employees up to two weeks of paid sick leave based on their regular rate of pay for qualifying reasons. See more.
Utah State Board issues waivers for evaluation, re-licensure and pre-service requirements – April 6, 2020
The Utah State Board of Education (Board) waived several administrative rules in response to national and state declarations of emergency:
Educator evaluation requirements
The USBE granted to local education agencies (LEAs) a statewide waiver of the employee evaluation requirements of R277-531 and 533, including the requirement for an educator or administrator to have a certain number of observations or a summative rating for the 2019-20 school year.
For educators whose licenses are required to be renewed by June 30, 2020, the USBE extended the June 30 deadline in Section R277-500-4 to October 31, 2020 to allow educators more time to renew their licenses.
Pre-service teacher requirements
The State Board issued five specific waivers for teacher, education leadership, and student support position candidates who are finishing programs by June 30, 2020:
- teacher candidates were granted a waiver of the minimum clock hours requirements for university students currently enrolled in a board approved educator preparation licensure program in Section R277-504-3;
- teacher candidates were granted a waiver for receiving a C or better in all education related courses and major required content courses for university students currently enrolled in a board approved educator preparation licensure program and expecting to complete fieldwork/clinical experience requirements on or before June 30, 2020 in Section R277-504-3; (as long as the student receives as passing grade in the course.)
- granted a waiver to educational leadership candidates currently enrolled in a board approved educational leadership preparation program and expecting to complete educational leadership requirements on or before June 30, 2020, a waiver of minimum ck hour requirements for educational leaders in Section R277-505-5;
- granted to School Psychologists, School Social Workers, School Counselors, Audiologists, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Speech Language Technicians candidates a waiver of the minimum clock hour requirements in R277-506;
- granted a waiver for university students currently enrolled in a board approved licensure program and expecting to complete fieldwork/clinical experience requirements on or before June 30, 2020 in R277-506.
The NEA distributes summary explanations of CARES Act provisions – April 3, 2020
On March 27, the $2-trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law. The bill is a good start and, while not perfect, does address many needs of our students, educators, and schools. It is intended to help stabilize workers, families, and the economy during the COVID-19 public health crisis and is the third relief package Congress has passed during the coronavirus pandemic. NEA is also advocating for additional stimulus funds in a fourth package. NEA provided the following explanation documents:
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: a summary of SNAP provisions – April 3, 2020
The Families First Coronavirus Relief Act, which was signed into law on March 18, contains provisions that affect school meals and other food security measures, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). See the complete summary.
State Board Provides Q&A for Student Data Privacy and Digital Learning – March 31, 2020
The Utah State Board of Education’s Student Data Privacy and Digital Teaching and Learning teams developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) help educators understand best practices in accordance with federal and state law. Local policies can be stricter than what is found in this document, so please consult your local policies as well.
State issues extension on K-12 school dismissal until May 1 – March 23, 2020
Gov. Gary R. Herbert and State Superintendent Syd Dickson announced that Utah’s K-12 public schools will extend their dismissal through Friday, May 1. They will continue to evaluate the situation to make a determination about the remaining school year. Gov. Herbert expressed his appreciation to the educators throughout our state who have quickly adapted their instruction to remote learning platforms. “These are unprecedented times in Utah’s and our nation’s history,” the governor said, “I have been overwhelmed with Utahns’ outpouring of support for one another, and nowhere has this been more evident than in the way our educators are supporting Utah students and families.” Distance learning will continue during the extended dismissal for all K-12 public schools, where feasible. Employees will be limited at school buildings, following the Governor’s and CDC’s guidelines to avoid gatherings of groups of ten or more. Teachers are being, and will continue to be, encouraged to telecommute when possible.
State Board waives testing and attendance rules – March 19, 2020
In its March 19 meeting the Utah State Board of Education:
UEA President invites educators to “share your ideas” – March 18, 2020
In a video posted on social media, UEA President Heidi Matthews provided a Coronavirus update and asked educators “to share great ideas on this new frontier of student learning, to lift each other up and to stay optimistic, powerful, and professional in these unprecedented times. Share ideas using the hashtag #UEAKeepOnTeachin.”
UEA gatherings cancelled/postponed in response to Covid-19 – March 17, 2020
More than three dozen UEA meetings and events during March, April and May 2020 are being transitioned to virtual format, cancelled or postponed in order to address safety and health concerns in accordance with health advisories. View the complete list.
UEA Headquarters Office staff to continue transition to and building accessibility – March 17, 2020
Beginning March 19, the UEA headquarters and state option staff will transition to a system of working remotely. “This will not interfere with our continued membership, legal, business, and other services and support,” said UEA Executive Director Brad Bartels in an advisory letter dated March 17. “It is our intent to provide an even higher degree of services in response to the current crisis. Our staff will continue to be available by email and by telephone to provide needed support.”
Testing: Board to review suspension of state assessments – March 17, 2020
On Thursday, March 19, the Utah State Board of Education will discuss a motion to suspend testing for this year. Many UEA members expressed concerns about testing and those concerns were shared with State Superintendent Syd Dickson. Several states have already announced testing suspensions.
NEA advocating for passage of emergency Coronavirus aid – March 17, 2020
The National Education Association actively advocating for passage of the federal HR6201 – the Families First Corona Virus Response Act that would provide for free testing, paid emergency sick leave and paid family and medical leave. This Act also strengthens food security and health care for the nation’s most vulnerable – and gives additional unemployment compensation during this crisis. “Sometimes it is hard to see all that our Association does, but our NEA is at the forefront advocating for what is best for students, especially during this COVID-19 crisis,” said UEA President Heidi Matthews.
State and National Education Resources—