Donate | Print Page | Sign In | Register
COVID-19-FAQ

This page is updated frequently with common questions and answers regarding the Coronavirus pandemic.

Please contact us at charter411@coloradoleague.org if you have additional questions. 

 

Academic Services (contact academic@coloradoleague.org with your questions)
CategoryQuestionAnswers
EvaluationHow should we go about our end of year teacher evaluations?The state has waved the teacher evaluation requirement. Still, as leaders we want to provide feedback and support to teachers as they navigate this new landscape. Here is a suggested roll-out: In weeks 1 and 2, focus your instructional leadership on supporting teachers with virtual platforms and build up their confidence. Highlight and share 3 best practices in distance learning. In weeks 3 and 4, roll out your new instructional "look-fors." Complete short virtual walk-throughs. In weeks 5 and 6, begin observations with follow-up feedback calls. In weeks 7 and 8, consider hosting virtual learning walks so your teachers can learn from each other.
EvaluationHow should we go about our end of year grading?At this time, end of year grading is a local decision. Some schools are adjusting their grading expectations in terms of number of grades required. Other schools are moving to pass/fail.
ReadingDo you have any reading resources?Here are a few links to reading resources available: https://www.cde.state.co.us/learningathome/literacysupportthroughlibraries; https://freeresources.amplify.com/; https://newsela.com/about/distance-learning/.
Distance LearningHow are other districts adjusting to remote learning?Here are the links to several of Colorado District's remote learning plans. Denver Public Schools - https://www.dpsk12.org/wp-content/uploads/2020_remote_learning_plan.pdf; Douglas County - https://www.dcsdk12.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_220400/File/COVID19/Remote%20Learning%20Plan-FNL2-4-2-2020.pdf; St Vrain - http://www.svvsd.org/updates/family-update-online-learning-plan-and-school-closures; Colorado Springs D11 - https://www.d11.org/distancelearning.
Distance LearningDo you have ideas on holding students & families accountable during distance learning?Now is an opportune time to rethink accountability and grading and expand our practices beyond this time of distance learning. Accountability starts with relationships. Find ways to connect with families regularly. This can be as simple as teachers scheduling 5 minute calls each week with each family checking in on school and life. Distance learning allows for flexibility in timeframes for completion of work. Consider creating checklists or pacing guides for families so they can self monitor the tasks and projects they have completed. Assessment in a distance learning environment is most effective when addressing the higher levels of Blooms. Consider projects and portfolios instead of tests and quizzes. If your community is set on retaining a traditional grading system, reset your school-wide expectations around grades. When I was a school-leader, I expected teachers to enter at least two grades per subject per week. This may now look like one grade per subject every other week. Some schools are also moving to pass/fail grading.
Distance LearningDo you have support and ideas for communities who lack internet capacities during our attempt at distance learning?Some rural schools are delivering packets of instructional materials. If families don’t have access to the internet, but do have access to cellular coverage and smartphones, some schools are utilize existing platforms families are familiar with such as Facebook and Twitter. You may also want to explore if there a way to partner with local media such as local tv, radio, and newspapers to get content to families.
Distance LearningDo you have tools for parent instruction that doesn’t involve technology? And, how do these hours of instruction translate to parents homeschooling their own kids?The state has waived seat-hour requirements, so there is no need to translate home based instruction to hours. If families do not have internet, provide them with a suggested master schedule that includes both independent work time & work time that may need to be monitored in core subjects only. Add in time for movement and play. Help families create an "innovation box" that houses materials for building and exploration such as recycled household items, clay, paper, and markers. Add in time for journaling or creative writing. Children can practice math through card and dice games. The possibilities are endless!
Distance LearningHow are schools supporting families in the transition to virtual learning?Reset expectations for learning. It is very unlikely that you can just insert previous lesson plans into this new setting. Now is a great time to focus on specific subjects and standards that are most easily transferable to distance learning. This may not be the time for students to acquire new skills, but rather apply previous learning in new and novel ways. Provide families with a “suggested” master schedule for their day that includes synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities as well as a balance of work that can be done independently and work that might need to be monitored. To help families with multiple school-aged children, create one central landing page or document where families can go to find the lessons for the day for all grade levels. Flip the classroom. Don’t rely on parents to teach or monitor content. Record the teaching portion of the lesson or provide an existing online video or tutorial. Then when the teacher has “live” time with students, have that be the guided and independent practice with formative assessment and feedback. As a leader, remain visible and gain stakeholder input often. For example, one Principal is holding Zoom calls once a week for families on topics around helpful tips for home based learning. One leadership team has divided families up among them and is making personal phone calls to each family once a week to check in. Another school has created a way for parents to connect and share resources through Slack. You could also do a Facebook group. Make office hours available for students and families. Teachers and leaders can set specific times each week as office hours. Use calendly or something similar to schedule meetings.
SPEDHow are counselors supporting kids?Mental health is a very important topic right now and schools who have already rolled out online programming are finding that they did not adequately plan for the level of need that all kids have right now. Mental health specialists are recommending that schools take a proactive, strategic approach to supporting mental health at a Tier 1 level through the building opportunities for connection between students, and also between student and teachers.
We can also be helping families foster their relationships and connections by providing suggestions for activities to be completed as a family.
If the school approaches MH holistically, then your counselors can be freed up to do three important things: 1. Develop and train staff on how to identify students in crisis and what the process is to get those students intensive support, 2. they can also be targeting those students who are in crisis and work with the family or outside agencies to coordinate support, and 3. They may even need to be supporting the mental health of your staff as we are hearing that secondary or vicarious trauma is taking place in teachers as they are likely to be on the front lines of our students mental health needs.
We do have mental health specialists offering free webinars and online collaboration opportunities to build skills and thought partner with counselors and school leaders as they strategically plan for how they will support their school's needs.
SPEDHow can we deliver SPED/Intervention supports in a remote learning environment and still asssure security for our students? There are quite a few issues impacting special education: connectivity and technology, student engagement and willingness to meet with service providers by phone or virtually, students' and parents' ability to access the online platforms, and teachers having the skills needed to support their students' needs virtually. Legally and compliance-wise, the guidance from CASE and other national special education organizations, is first and foremost, to prioritize safety in all decisions made. Then , we must do the best we can to provide a free and appropriate public education to our students with disabilities as best as we can in light of the current circumstances, to document our efforts and agreements made with families in a way that is aligned to district guidance; and, to remember that the Individuals with Disabilites Education Act was not written for a Pandemic and we are going to need a lot of flexibility to support our students right now. As for confidentiality on virtual platforms, FERPA just put out an update in response to our current situation that online educational programs can receive a FERPA school exception if it meets the requirements listed in the document to the districts standards. So our guidance is to make sure you are using district approved online platforms since they (as your LEA) are responsible assessment platforms in alignment to FERPA and HIPAA standards. We are providing tons of resources, webinars, and opportunities for teachers to collaborate so that teachers are getting thought partnership and guidance along the way through our League resource page.
Academic ServicesHow schools will be grading for the remainder of the year and how they think they will begin their new year next year?Since this is a local decision, district and school approaches are as unique as the schools themselves.
Some common themes are that schools are basing their policies on compassion and equity.
There is a trend on policies that reflect the idea of “do no harm.” This is where grades can improve, but cannot go down.
Some schools are implementing a “grade floor” where grades cannot drop below a certain letter or point.
Other schools are not assigning grades but focusing on feedback. You can also adjust your grading policy as the year progresses. DPS just did this with their HS policy now giving students the optio of pass/fail or grades.
A variety of organizations have done reviews of grading policies across the country and internationally, and I have links to those resources in the Grading and Feedback webinar slides on our resource page.
Parent Engagement & SupportHow can we support parents who may have to return to work?We have developed a parent webinar series to support their adjustment to remote learning. These provide tips and tricks for parents whether they are at home all day, or only able to check their student's work in the evening. Recordings of all 3 can be found on the League COVID-19 resource page.
Post-Secondary EducationWill SAT be required for graduation for class of 2021?College Board has been suggesting a free SAT in the fall for all seniors. They are also working to create an online offering for the SAT in case we can't meet in person.
Remote LearningAny news on the possibility of schools continuing remote learning entering into the 2020-2021 school year?I recommend that you are prepared for a variety of situations.
Plan A, we return to our school buildings.
Some other scenarios include starting the school year in distance learning;
having to go in and out of distance learning based on flair ups;
certain regions of the state in distance learning,
a percentage of your students returning to school and a percentage in distance learning.
I would encourage you to be adapting your distance learning plans for sustainability.
Remote LearningAre we exploring increased use of online learning after the COVID-19 pandemic is over to boost learning and building utilizatio?Many schools are looking at the possibility of coninuing to utilize online learning platforms once we return to the building. If we have spent this time perfecting our use of these tools, we should continue using them if the result is increased student engagement and learning. Some schools utilize their remote learning plans on snow days to avoid having to close school all together.
Remote LearningWhat courses and/or opportunities for professional development are available virtually (i.e. CPR, Social Emotional Learning, etc.)?See our resource page for a full listing of PD opportunities the League is offering.
Remote LearningHow can we support teachers & parents in continuing childrens' education?Reset expectations for learning. It is very unlikely that you can just insert previous lesson plans into this new setting. Now is a great time to focus on specific subjects and standards that are most easily transferable to distance learning. This may not be the time for students to acquire new skills, but rather apply previous learning in new and novel ways. Provide families with a “suggested” master schedule for their day that includes synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities as well as a balance of work that can be done independently and work that might need to be monitored. To help families with multiple school-aged children, create one central landing page or document where families can go to find the lessons for the day for all grade levels. Flip the classroom. Don’t rely on parents to teach or monitor content. Record the teaching portion of the lesson or provide an existing online video or tutorial. Then when the teacher has “live” time with students, have that be the guided and independent practice with formative assessment and feedback. As a leader, remain visible and gain stakeholder input often. For example, one Principal is holding Zoom calls once a week for families on topics around helpful tips for home based learning.

 

 

Business Services (contact business@coloradoleague.org with your questions)
CategoryQuestionAnswers
BudgetsWhat are other schools doing regarding budget prep for next year?We recommend modeling 3 or 4 scenarios with changes to PPR. Start with a flat PPR rate budget and then include some potential reductions to PPR as a contingency plan. CSI is recommending their schools prepare a flat budget, as well as a 3%, 6% & 10% reduction. Tiered Reduction Scenario Template:
https://resources.csi.state.co.us/covid-19-finance-and-hr-resources/.
FinanceCan schools apply for the SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan without having to show a loss in revenue?There is no need to show loss of revenue. The data required is focused on average monthly payroll expense. https://www.sba.gov/document/sba-form--paycheck-protection-program-borrower-application-form
FinanceIs it correct that tax credits are only really applicable to social security and medicare taxes?That is correct. The majority of charter schools pay into PERA and do not pay FICA/SS, and therefore would not qualify for payroll tax credits.
FundingAre there any current and future funding concerns for Colorado charter schools?In the current uncertain environment, it’s impossible to say anything for sure. That said, since we’re already so far into the school year and since the legislature isn’t even meeting right now, it does seem like it would be difficult for there to be cuts to current year funding. Next year, however, cuts to school funding are much more possible given the current state of the economy. One of the best-case scenarios may be that PPR remains flat from this year to next. But we’re also advising schools to develop different budget scenarios that account for possible cuts in the event that’s the direction school funding needs to go. See here for a resource to help with that: https://resources.csi.state.co.us/covid-19-finance-and-hr-resources/.
FundingI believe total CO title I funding is approx $145M/yr. If the CARES act provides for $300M, would CO Title I schools receive approximately 2 times their allocation of Title I though CARES?The $300M figure includes funding for both K-12 and higher education, so it won’t all go toward Title I. One estimate we’ve heard is that current Title I schools may receive an additional 80% of what they already received in Title I funding this year as a result of the CARES Act.
HRWhat is the hiring impact for teachers due to COVID-19?Many schools will continue to hire as planned. However, new methods of hiring will be implemented in the Remote Hiring Environment. Such as Virtual Career Fairs, Video Interviewing and Online Onboarding. We will cover virtual recruitment in one of our upcoming HR Weekly Support Calls.
HRAre schools still paying hourly staff? If so, until when?Yes, the majority of schools are continuing to pay their hourly staff based on their typical hours worked through the end of the school year as budgeted. Schools are having their hourly staff support teachers, work one-on-one with students and take on extra projects during this time.
HRIs the Family First Coronavirus Response Act applicable to charter schools? Are we considered "certain public sector employers"?Yes, the Family First Coronavirus Response Act applies to charter schools. The new requirements went into effect on 4/1/20. Your school is responsible for communicating this information to all employees.
HRHow does the COVID situation impact the ability to: terminate, non-renew, or put an employee on a performance improvement plan?Many schools are renewing and completing employee agreements at the end of April or mid-May therefore delaying the process, based on board approval of budget. If you have employees with performance issues, please work with your local HR Rep or contact Trina for performance thought partnership.
FundingCan you recap the cost-saving measures mentioned by Sam & Tim during the Town Hall?Increase revenues: Increase class size, Add before/after care, Add summer programming, Increase student fees, apply for grants, Facility rental, Decrease expenses, Refi debt. Decrease Expenses: Delay capital projects, contract out services, Review property/casualty insurance, Self-insure for unemployment, Hold salaries, Reduce purchases services w authorizers, Colorado Department of Labor Workers Compensation Cost Containment. Overall: Look big and small - Example: save on trash bags/one trash can per classroom. If, later you have to hold or reduce salaries or cut positions, you can list out all of the cost savings measures you implemented before getting to this decision. Get out in front of the message to your staff early. Set the tone for potential cost savings measures.
FundingCan that CSP waiver work for charters who have their CSP grant directly through the fed? CMOs that have a CSP replication and expansion grant that was awarded to the CMO (rather than funding through CDE) could pursue their own waiver of the network's CMO grant.
FundingAny info on possibility of a recission of PPR funds this School year?There has been no indication thus far that there would be any reduction in PPR for the 2019-2020 school year.
FundingHow can we save money on workers' comp?CO Dept of Labor Workers Comp Premium Cost Containment Program can save you 5%.
FundingWhen would relief funds need to be spent? Would these need to spent on SY19-20 or can they carry over?Relief funds need to be spent by Sept of 2021.
FundingDo you have to have Title I funding to obtain relief funds?The CARES Act funding is calculated using the Title I formula however the funds do not follow the Title I requirements. All schools should have access to these funds, not related at all to whether you previously received Title I funds or not. Allowed to be used by districts for central office costs.
FundingWhat are the guidelines for what the federal dollars need to be spent on in K-12? If your school receives funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the federal CARES Act, the allowable uses for this money include: supplies for cleaning and sanitizing schools and school district buildings; efforts to help students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, “racial and ethnic minorities,” homeless students, and students in foster care; coordinating long-term school closures, including meals, technology, and serving students with disabilities; buying technology, including connectivity, to help students continue learning, including adaptive equipment for students with disabilities; items principals need “to address the needs of their individual schools”; mental health services; planning and providing in-person or online summer learning programs and after-school programs; and continuing to provide district-level services and employ staffers. Funds must be spent down by Septemeber of 2021.
FundingHow are various charters managing budget reductions? What percentages of 19-20 PPR is everyone working from?Generally using a decrease of 3%, 6% and 10% PPR
FundingCan Charter Schools apply for the SBA loans with forgiveness?The only place where "applying" is possibly necessary at this point is for some of the SBA loan programs that have been rolled out: https://www.publiccharters.org/cares-act-low-or-no-cost-lending-programs-charter-schools. At this point it does not appear as though the $13B in K12 funding under the CARES Act will require any sort of application to access. Details on another possible state source for short-term resources are available here: https://covrn.com/covid-relief-fund/.
FundingWhat are the guidelines for what the federal dollars need to be spent on in K-12? If your school receives funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund of the federal CARES Act, the allowable uses for this money include: supplies for cleaning and sanitizing schools and school district buildings; efforts to help students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, “racial and ethnic minorities,” homeless students, and students in foster care; coordinating long-term school closures, including meals, technology, and serving students with disabilities; buying technology, including connectivity, to help students continue learning, including adaptive equipment for students with disabilities; items principals need “to address the needs of their individual schools”; mental health services; planning and providing in-person or online summer learning programs and after-school programs; and continuing to provide district-level services and employ staffers. Funds must be spent down by Septemeber of 2021.
FundingCan you recap the cost-saving measures mentioned by Sam & Tim during the Town Hall?Increase revenues: Increase class size, Add before/after care, Add summer programming, Increase student fees, apply for grants, Facility rental, Decrease expenses, Refi debt. Decrease Expenses: Delay capital projects, contract out services, Review property/casualty insurance, Self-insure for unemployment, Hold salaries, Reduce purchases services w authorizers, Colorado Department of Labor Workers Compensation Cost Containment. Overall: Look big and small - Example: save on trash bags/one trash can per classroom. If, later you have to hold or reduce salaries or cut positions, you can list out all of the cost savings measures you implemented before getting to this decision. Get out in front of the message to your staff early. Set the tone for potential cost savings measures.
FundingCan that CSP waiver work for charters who have their CSP grant directly through the fed? CMOs that have a CSP replication and expansion grant that was awarded to the CMO (rather than funding through CDE) could pursue their own waiver of the network's CMO grant.
FundingAny info on possibility of a recission of PPR funds this School year?There has been no indication thus far that there would be any reduction in PPR for the 2019-2020 school year.
FundingHow can we save money on workers' comp?CO Dept of Labor Workers Comp Premium Cost Containment Program can save you 5%.
FundingWhen would relief funds need to be spent? Would these need to spent on SY19-20 or can they carry over?Relief funds need to be spent by Sept of 2021.
FundingDo you have to have Title I funding to obtain relief funds?The CARES Act funding is calculated using the Title I formula however the funds do not follow the Title I requirements. All schools should have access to these funds, not related at all to whether you previously received Title I funds or not. Allowed to be used by districts for central office costs.

 

 

Communications (contact communications@coloradoleague.org with your questions)
CategoryQuestionAnswers
Communications Follow up question, is CLCS on the conferences with CDE getting the information intended for superintendents? And if so, can a summary of this information be shared with all charters?Yes. Dan Schaller is attending these calls weekly and sharing out the updates in our regular newsletter communications. If there are urgent updates, we are sending those out in separate email communications.
Town Hall RecordingsAre you currently offering video recordings of sessions to access after the fact?Yes, all Town Hall's and webinars are recorded and stored on the League COVID-19 resource page.

 

New School Development (contact newschools@coloradoleague.org with your questions)
CategoryQuestionAnswers
FundingAre there expected changes in CLCS grants to new school groups? Are there expected changes to CCSP funds for the October 2020 application window?The League is currently in a holding pattern regarding planning and seed grants. I have just reached out to CDE (as they hold the CCSP grant) to find out more, and neither their Schools of Choice website nor their current CCSP website have any related updates; in the interim, I would keep checking those sites occasionally until we hear more.
AuthorizingCan an authorizer refuse to review our application at this time because of COVID-19 restrictions?A district has to, by law, review with due diligence every complete charter application that is submitted to them within their charter application submission deadlines during their charter application cycle window(s). The statutory citation for the timeline for the review of a charter application is found in C.R.S. 22-30.5-107(1)(b) [which refers later in (2) to a 90-day window starting when the application is filed] defining that a district shall receive and review all applications for charter schools. If a district doesn't review an application, it is considered a denial (which is appealable), and an application is considered filed when the district admin receives the charter app from the applicant either in hard copy or electronically. (2) of that same citation notes the 90-day window for the local board of ed to rule by resolution, in a public hearing, on the application after receiving the app. filed pursuant to subsection (1). (2.5) of the same citation notes the charter applicant and local board of ed may jointly waive the deadlines set forth in this section. Thus, a district and a charter applicant must come to an agreement -- together -- to extend this 90-day deadline.

 

 

School Services (contact schoolservices@coloradoleague.org with your questions)
CategoryQuestionAnswers
CalendarBest guess on “in school” resumption of the 2019-2020 school year.So far, the Governor has indicated it is highly unlikely we will return to school this academic year. However, assessments are being made in 30 day increments at this time. The metro Denver school districts determined on 4/3/2020 that they will not be returning to in building school for the 19-20 academic year.
SELWhat are your recommendations for providing mental health day(s)?Some of the Districts in the metro area are doing instruction/student contact 4 days a week with the fifth being for planning, grading, etc.; not a mental health day but does provide some space. Some schools reserve Mondays or Fridays as office hours for staff (available for student appts if requested).
GovernanceHow are school abiding by Sunshine laws while holding remote board meetings?We recommend you establish a call-in number or video call link for board members to hold virtual board meetings during this time. You can publish the call-in number that you are using by posting it on your website so the public can call in as well. If you use a video call, you would also be able to see when new participants join and take note of those in attendance. If you need to go into Executive Session, I would recommend you end the board meeting call and begin a new call with a different (unpublished) call-in number just for the Executive Session.
GovernanceWhat are virtual best practices from a Board's perspective? How do you keep school life/culture going during COVID?We recommend you establish a call-in number or video call link for board members to hold virtual board meetings during this time. You can publish the call-in number that you are using by posting it on your website so the public can call in as well. As Leaders are dealing with continuing urgent needs, set up a weekly or twice weekly regular call with your School Leader so you can be responsive to their urgent needs.
Post-Secondary EducationWill SAT be required for graduation for class of 2021?College Board has been suggesting a free SAT in the fall for all seniors. They are also working to create an online offering for the SAT in case we can't meet in person.
SELWhat are your recommendations for providing mental health day(s)?Some of the Districts in the metro area are doing instruction/student contact 4 days a week with the fifth being for planning, grading, etc.; not a mental health day but does provide some space. Some schools reserve Mondays or Fridays as office hours for staff (available for student appts if requested).

 

Policy (contact advocacy@coloradoleague.org with your questions)
CategoryQuestionAnswers
FundingDid the referenced "fast, friendly, and free" legislation include possible easy passing for a paid sick leave element?We have heard the Legislature might see this as an opportunity to pass paid leave.
DistrictsDo you have a sense of timeline for more Districts to follow suit with those who have already decided not to return this year?D49 is announcing building closure through the end of the school year this week; other districts might follow suit.
PreschoolsHow can the league support charter schools that also run preschools?There are unfortunately no easy solutions on this topic. Colorado is set to receive $41 million in federal stimulus support specifically for early childhood education (https://chalkbeat.org/posts/co/2020/04/15/colorado-is-about-to-get-41-million-for-early-childhood-heres-where-the-money-could-go/). It may be worth tracking this money to see if it could be of benefit to your school. Additionally, once the federal government approves more resources for the Paycheck Protection Program (https://covid.publiccharters.org/sba-funding-programs), this may be another option to consider to make up for lost preschool tuition revenue.
WaiversWhat is CDE's thinking on waivers for contact time going forward?CDE has yet to release any official guidance on possible contact time waivers for next school year. We will be sure to keep you posted if they come out with anything.
FundingWhat proactive steps is the League taking to ensure that Charter schools are treated equitably with the distribution of stimulusThe League is actively working with CDE right now to see if language can be added to Colorado's application to the federal government for our portion of the stimulus dollars that ensures districts must share these resources equitably with their charter schools.
FundingDid the referenced "fast, friendly, and free" legislation include possible easy passing for a paid sick leave element?We have heard the Legislature might see this as an opportunity to pass paid leave.
PolicyDo you have a sense of timeline for more Districts to follow suit with those who have already decided not to return this year?D49 is announcing building closure through the end of the school year this week; other districts might follow suit.

 

 

Please contact us at charter411@coloradoleague.org if you have additional questions.