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Legislative Update

School staff in 2nd wave to receive COVID-19 vaccine under federal plan; Promises of more tests coming

From the National School Boards Association (NSBA):

Education Week (9/24, Blad) reports a HHS plan released Sept. 16 outlines “how it will quickly work with states to distribute doses when an effective vaccine is identified.” The first wave of vaccinations “may include people with health vulnerabilities, the elderly, and health care providers who work with COVID-19 patients.” Next, the second wave “may include people at increased risk of acquiring or transmitting COVID-19, which includes employees of schools, child-care centers, colleges, and universities.” Such a proposal will “help address concerns of educators in some areas who’ve expressed hesitation about returning to in-person learning while virus rates remain high.” The federal plan also calls on states and local health officials to work with a variety of organizations, including schools, to provide vaccines to the general public as quickly as it comes available. read more…

Gov. Evers announces $5 million in CARES Act funding for broadband expansion

Gov. Evers announces $5 million in CARES Act funding for broadband expansion

From the governor’s office: “Gov. Tony Evers today announced that more than $5 million of funding from the federal CARES Act will be awarded for the expansion of high-speed, broadband internet. Funding will be awarded by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to applicants from the 2020 broadband expansion grants that did not receive funding and are able to connect customers by December 30, 2020, and satisfy the requirements of the federal CARES Act.

“The PSC houses the state Broadband Office, which administers the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program that provides grant funding to organizations, internet service providers, and local governments to expand in areas of the state that are underserved and unserved.”

Read More:

Gov. Evers declares new public health emergency to extend statewide mask mandate to Nov 21

Gov. Evers declares new public health emergency to extend statewide mask mandate to Nov 21

From the Governor’s office: “Gov. Tony Evers today declared a new public health emergency in Wisconsin due to recent surge in cases among young people and issued a new face coverings order effective immediately. Executive Order #90 is available here. Emergency Order #1 is available here. Both orders are effective immediately and will expire after sixty days or with a subsequent superseding order. The governor previously declared a public health emergency under Executive Order #82, which remains in effect.” The previous emergency order and mask mandate were set to expire Monday, this extension would end on November 21.

The previous mandate was being challenged in court.  It is not clear if the state legislature will meet to overturn the latest order.


Update on cloth mask distribution to schools and child care centers

As we reported in an earlier blog post,  the federal Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) announced in late August that it would be making up to 125 million cloth face masks available to states for distribution to schools.  Wisconsin’s share of this distribution is to be 1.6 million masks.

At the time of our earlier blog post, it was unknown when the masks would arrive.  We now have an update to report. 

According to sources in touch with staff of the state Department of Health Services (DHS) and Wisconsin Emergency Management that are working on this project, the state received a shipment of cloth face masks from DHHS last week. However, the amount the state received is half of what it had been expecting and the masks that were received are sized for middle and high school students. The other half of the shipment is expected to arrive in late September to early October.  

read more…

Leg. Council symposia examine early access to autism treatment

On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, the Joint Legislative Council will host an online discussion on the experiences of individuals and families navigating pathways to diagnosis, treatment, and support of autism as told by an occupational therapist with specialized training in working with children with autism, navigators who work in various parts of the state, and the co-director of a clinic providing innovative approaches to autism services in Milwaukee.

This session will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is the third of four sessions on the topic of autism.  It will be covered live on WisconsinEye. read more…

Some suggestions to provide help with school districts’ technology needs

School districts having difficulty coping with the unexpected costs associated with COVID-19 may find unexpected help from their underlying municipalities. 

That’s because municipalities that do not plan to fully utilize their allotment from the Routes to Recovery program, funded through the Coronavirus Relief Fund, may be able to partner with school districts. The municipality can, or example, purchase laptops or tablets, etc., for distance learning and teleworking for their schools and donate them to the district.

read more…

Mid-September federal update: more stimulus looks unlikely, PPE supplies, CDC guidance

Hopes remain dim for a deal on additional Coronavirus stimulus relief before Election Day

According to The Hill, a media source focused on events on Capitol Hill:

“Senate Republican leaders are hoping to let their colleagues hit the campaign trail at the end of next week, acknowledging the slim chances of passing significant legislation other than a government funding stopgap before Election Day. read more…

Mid-September state update: new rural commission, third Friday counts, teacher supply, DHS guidance

Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission On Rural Prosperity

The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission On Rural Prosperity is scheduled to meet virtually this morning (Friday, September 18) at 10:00 a.m.  This will be the last of three scheduled public listening sessions the commission will hold.

In addition to the listening sessions, rural residents may join the discussion by submitting written comments by Sept. 30 using a form on the Office of Rural Prosperity website. Rural stakeholder groups may also arrange meetings with commission members through WEDC.  (The Office of Rural Prosperity has been set up at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.) read more…

State Supt. Stanford Taylor emphasizes special education & mental health funding in State of Education Address

State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor delivered her last State of Education Address today (9/17) virtually as the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) that she oversees prepares its budget request for 2021-23. Stanford Taylor is not running for reelection to her post.

While she trumpeted Wisconsin schools’ successes through unprecedented challenges, she also expressed concern for persistent achievement gaps and working towards educational equity.

The only insights given to the DPI’s upcoming budget request were that it will include increases in special education and mental health funding: read more…

WI Supreme Court temporarily blocks Dane County order restricting in-person school

WI Supreme Court temporarily blocks Dane County order restricting in-person school

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Sept 10 temporarily blocked an emergency order issued by Dane County’s joint city-county health department prohibiting public and private schools in Dane County from providing in-person instruction to most students in grades 3 through 12. That emergency order was issued on August 21 and later amended to allow special needs students to receive in-person services and instruction.

The decision came after challenges were filed by groups of religious schools and the parents of students enrolled in private schools in Dane County who went directly to the state’s highest court to ask for relief.  In its order, the court agreed to hear that case on the merits at a later date. read more…

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