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COVID-19 FAQs

Updated 9/11/20



Do children have to attend school in their school building this fall to meet state attendance requirements?

Answer: This year there is flexibility in how student attendance is counted to accommodate remote learning. The state has amended the requirements for counting instructional hours for this year only to include remote learning days implemented as a result of public health and safety measures as student contact days. The information is contained on this webpage: 2020-21 CDE Policy on Instructional Time and Student Attendance. Local boards will need to adopt policies defining remote learning, document ways in which teacher-student contact will occur and define how attendance will be considered.

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What happens to funding for districts with a significant shift in enrollment?

Answer: Existing statute provides some cushion to soften the impact of annual enrollment variances on district per-pupil funding. For districts with enrollment fluctuating from year to year, funding is based on an average of up to four prior years' October pupil counts and the current year's October pupil count. Per statute (section 22-54-103(7(e)(I), C.R.S.), the funded pupil count is the higher of the current year enrollment or the average of two, three, four, or five years enrollment.

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How will student attendance be tracked during remote learning?

Answer: Historically, student attendance has been demonstrated when a student is present for in-person instruction. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote and hybrid learning scenarios, for the 2020-21 school year, districts have flexibility to alter their district attendance policies and the way in which attendance is documented for remote learning. For example, districts may choose to track and count attendance based on presence during in-person instruction, as well as logging into an online learning platform, assignments completed at home, or other methods of tracking attendance during remote learning. For more information on this flexibility, see CDE’s Policy on Instructional Time and Student Attendance for the 2020-21 Academic Year.

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What if a student is absent during the October Count process?

Answer: During a typical school year, the official count takes place on October 1, unless that date is on a weekend or a major holiday. A district may also request an alternative count date for a school or program if needed based on school calendars or for other reasons as authorized in statute. Beyond the specific count date, statute provides for an 11-day pupil enrollment count period, which includes the five school days before the count date, the count date itself, and the five school days after the count date. Districts may receive funding for students that attend school for all or any portion of this pupil enrollment count period. Finally, there is additional flexibility beyond the 11-day period and alternative date. If the student is absent for the pupil enrollment period or the alternative count date (for any reason), the district can still establish attendance if that student is in attendance at any point during the current school year prior to the pupil enrollment count date and resumes attendance within 30 days following the pupil enrollment period.

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How will CDE provide administrative relief for grant reimbursement?

Answer: CDE's Office of Grants Fiscal is committed to working with Colorado schools, districts, and BOCES to provide them with the maximum operational flexibility necessary to continue operations as they recover from extended school or program closures due to public health crisis. The department has identified the following barriers which can impact the reimbursement for allowable grant expenditures during the recovery period:

  • Documentation needed to support reimbursement of funds
  • Reporting deadlines
  • Cash Flow
  • Availability of electronic infrastructure to access reporting systems

View a list of Grant Programs and COVID-19 Related Expenses

To the greatest extent possible, the department will take steps to address, find administrative relief, and develop strategies on a case-by-case basis with regard to the impact, estimated recovery period and flexibility within federal, state, and local regulations. We are committed to collaborating with districts and expediting necessary work necessary. CDE encourages all affected parties to contact the department with any requests for assistance. Contact Jennifer Okes, CDE's chief operating officer, at okes_j@cde.state.co.us or 303-866-2996.

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What flexibility is offered under ESEA with respect to meeting Maintenance of Effort (MOE)?

Answer: There is some flexibility in the MOE provisions in the ESEA per the U.S. Department of Education (September 2018) "Non-Regulatory Guidance on Flexibility and Waivers for Grantees and Program Participants Impacted by Federally Declared Disasters (for Academic School Year 2018-19).

It is important to understand the delay in when the current year's expenditures are taken into account for MOE determinations. For example, expenditures in school year 2017-2018 (fiscal year (FY) 2017 funds) will not affect MOE determinations until school year 2019-2020 (FY 2019 funds). In 2019-2020, the "preceding fiscal year" for MOE determinations will be expenditures for school year 2017-2018; likewise, expenditures in school year 2017-2018 will be the "second preceding fiscal year" for MOE determinations for school year 2020-2021 (FY 2020 funds). Under the MOE provisions in section 8521(b)(2) of the ESEA, an LEA that does not maintain effort during school year 2017-2018 (i.e., based on expenditures during the July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018 period) would not be penalized with a reduction in Federal FY 2019 (school year 2019-2020) ESEA funds unless the LEA also failed to maintain effort in one or more of the five fiscal years preceding July 1, 2017. If an LEA faces a reduction in FY 2019 ESEA funds, the LEA (or the SEA on the LEA's behalf) may request an MOE waiver under section 8521(c)(1), which gives the department the authority to waive the MOE requirements in the case of a natural disaster or another exceptional or uncontrollable circumstance.

Finally, we note that, under 34 CFR § 299.5(d)(2)(i), an SEA excludes from an ESEA MOE determination supplemental expenditures of taste and local funds made as a result of a Presidentially declared disaster. Therefore, if an LEA's expenditures increase significantly in school year 2017-2018 due to increased spending in response to such a disaster, the SEA will exclude these expenditures from MOE calculations, which will decrease the possibility that a one-time increase in school year 2017-2018 expenditures will cause an LEA to fail to maintain effort in school year 2018-2019 (affecting allocations for the 2020-2021 school year) when expenditures from school year 2018-2019 are compared to school year 2017-2018 expenditures.

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How does CDE interact with school nurses during a public health crisis?

Answer: Sarah Blumenthal in CDE's Health and Wellness Unit serves as the liaison between Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and school nurses. Sarah can be reached at 303-866-6779 or blumenthal_s@cde.state.co.us.

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How can I get in touch with my local heath department?

Answer: Look up your local public health agency on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) website.

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What are some considerations for charter schools as it relates to aligning their plans with school districts?

Answer: In these new circumstances, charter schools and their authorizers may implement learning plans in various ways that best meet their schools’ needs. As authorizers and charter school leaders remain focused on how to serve all students effectively and safely, all stakeholders are encouraged to work together, with transparency, respect, and a problem-solving orientation to navigate challenges. 

To proactively address any challenges, regular communication between charter schools and their authorizers during planning for the fall and during implementation will be important. Regardless of the level of autonomy a charter has, charter schools will want to understand how the following apply to their school:

  • Current executive orders (always apply)
  • State public health orders (always apply)
  • Local public health regulations and orders (always apply)
  • Un-waived state statutes (always apply)
  • Un-waived district policies (likely apply if the school is district authorized. Charter schools should maintain regular communication with your authorizer to address possible questions on whether a district policy applies to the charter school)
  • Terms of charter contract (always apply)

For schools and authorizers looking for additional support, a joint statement between the League of Charter Schools, Colorado Association of Charter School Authorizers, and the Charter School Institute offers additional guidance. The guidance, as published by these groups, can be found here.

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How will district and school leaders, teachers and staff know how to limit the spread of COVID-19? 

Answer: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Education released guidance on how schools should operate based on the latest science to protect students and educators. It includes protocols for health screening, mask wearing for all adults and children ages 11 and up, physical distancing and keeping students in cohorts as much as possible. In addition, CDPHE released guidance for detecting, reporting, and responding to students/staff with COVID-19 and outbreak of COVID-19 in schools. Also, it is important for students and adults to continue washing hands, for students and adults not to come to school when they are sick, maintain physical distance as well as follow any guidance from your Local Public Health Agency.

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What precautions are being taken to limit the spread of COVID-19 while students are transported to and from school on school buses?

Answer: CDE has compiled resources and recommendations on operating buses safely.

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Will students take state assessments this year?

Answer: While there is still uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact this year’s instructional settings, a typical state assessment administration season is currently scheduled to resume in spring 2021 as required by state and federal law. As with most aspects of education, state assessments may need to be adjusted in response to COVID-19 conditions. We will continue to monitor state and federal assessment requirements and expectations as the school year progresses across Colorado and as COVID-19 responses evolve this year. As always, District Assessment Coordinators will be the main point of contact for assessment information, including any changes to the schedule. Currently scheduled administration windows are included in the following table.

Spring 2021 Tentative Colorado State Assessment Windows

ACCESS for ELLs Jan. 11 - Feb. 12, 2021

CMAS/CoAlt: ELA/CSL CMAS/CoAlt: ELA/CSLA/Math/Science/Social Studies1 A/Math/Science/Social Studies1

April 12-30, 20212
CO SAT Primary Test Date: April 13, 2021
Make-up Test Date: April 27, 2021
CO PSAT for grades 9 and 10 Primary Test Date: April 13, 14, or 15, 2021 (district choice)3
Make-up Test Date: April 27 or 28, 2021 (district choice)
HS CoAlt ELA/Math (DLM) for HS CoAlt ELA/Math (DLM) for grades 9-11 grades 9-11 Aligned to PSAT/SAT schedule to the extent possible
  1. Per state statute, 4th and 7th grade social studies assessments are administered on a sampling basis.
  2. Consistent with previous years, extended windows to address technology capacity for CMAS/CoAlt and early windows for high school science will be available.
  3. Districts may make a district-wide decision or allow individual schools to select their PSAT initial and make-up test dates.

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What do parents need to know about establishing Learning Pods for their children?

Answer: The Colorado Department of Human Services and CDE have compiled a Resource Guide for Individuals Hosting and Families Participating in Instructional Learning Pods