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Legislative Update


Another WASB webinar scheduled to address latest COVID-19 developments

Another WASB webinar scheduled to address latest COVID-19 developments

We have scheduled a WASB webinar about developments related to COVID-19 for Thursday, March 26 at 11 a.m. 

WASB attorneys will be answering some of their most commonly received questions, especially about the process to request a DPI waiver for instructional hours (link goes to form to request waivers) and the governor’s safer-at-home order

The order requires all people in Wisconsin to stay home or at their place of residence, except for specific functions and activities defined in the order. It is effective at 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 25 until Friday, April 24 or until a superseding order is issued. WASB staff are currently reviewing the specifics of the order and will provide additional information regarding its application to school boards and districts as soon as the information can be clarified.

Tuesday’s additions to the WASB COVID-19 resource page include: read more…

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Gov. Evers issues “Safer at Home” order

Gov. Evers issues “Safer at Home” order

The following details of the order are from the Governor’s office. WASB attorneys will be providing another live webinar on the ongoing issues the public health emergency is presenting for schools on Thursday (3/26) at 11:00 a.m.

“Gov. Tony Evers today directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. The order is available here

“The order is effective at 8 am on Weds., March 25, 2020 and will remain in effect until 8 am Fri., April 24, 2020, or until a superseding order is issued.

“Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home. Similarly, if a business is an Essential Business or Operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order. read more…

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State will apply for federal assessment waiver; Gov. Evers orders DPI to suspend requirements

State will apply for federal assessment waiver; Gov. Evers orders DPI to suspend requirements

The United States Education Department (USED) recently announced flexibility will be provided to all states regarding the assessment and accountability requirements under federal law. 

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) announced in an email to district administrators that they will apply for a waiver from federal requirements to administer statewide assessments for accountability purposes. 

[UPDATE: The USED granted the assessment and accountability waiver the same day it was received. For more information click here and look under “Federal Waiver Update.”]

Also, yesterday (3/22) Gov. Evers announced the suspension of various rules at DPI to provide greater flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Governor’s order relating to the DPI would do the following: read more…

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U.S. ED to allow states to receive standardized assessment waivers

U.S. ED to allow states to receive standardized assessment waivers

From the United States Education Department (USED): “Today (3/20) U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced that students impacted by school closures due to the pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-20 school year. 

“Upon a proper request, the Department will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students because of the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year.  Many states, including Wisconsin, have closed some or all schools.  Therefore, any state unable to assess its students may seek a waiver from federal testing requirements by completing a form.  At the Secretary’s direction, the Department has dramatically streamlined the application process to make it as simple as possible for state leaders who are grappling with many complex issues.  read more…

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Gov. Evers orders scaling down of all child care settings

Gov. Evers orders scaling down of all child care settings

Schools that operate or house child care centers and have continued to do so during the current public health emergency should pay particular attention to this latest order. From the governor’s office:

“Gov. Tony Evers today directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to restrict the size of all child care settings. Centers may not operate with more than 10 staff present at a time and may not operate with more than 50 children present at a time. This order can be found here.

“The restriction in size goes into effect at 8 a.m. on Thurs., March 19, 2020 to give child care providers and families time to make plans for care moving forward. The closure will remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared by Executive Order #72. read more…

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Second coronavirus aid package passes Congress; Pres. Trump expected to sign it

Second coronavirus aid package passes Congress; Pres. Trump expected to sign it

The U.S. Senate today (3/18) passed the federal coronavirus aid package approved earlier this week by the U.S. House of Representatives.  The measure now goes to President Trump, who is expected to sign it. Senators voted 90-8 on the bill (H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act) that had previously passed the House. 

The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the measure will cost about $104 billion.  It is the second emergency supplemental appropriations package that Congress has passed amid growing concerns about the outbreak and the impact it is having on the U.S. economy. Today’s vote on the second package comes as senators are already working on a third supplemental appropriations package in response to the coronavirus pandemic that they hope to pass next week.  read more…

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Second coronavirus aid package passes Congress; Pres. Trump expected to sign it

Federal legislation enacted so far in response to COVID-19

In a recent memo outlining Gov. Evers’ initial emergency order related to the current public health emergency, the nonpartisan Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau described the provisions of the new law passed by Congress last week and signed into law by President Trump:

“On March 6, 2020, President Trump signed P.L. 116-123, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, which provided $8.3 billion to fund federal and state actions to address the COVID-19 outbreak. 

“”Of the total, $2.2 billion is budgeted for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with the requirement that CDC provide at least $950 million to fund grants to, or cooperative agreements with, states, localities, territories, and tribes to carry out surveillance, epidemiology, expanding laboratory capacity, infection control, mitigation, communications, and other preparedness and response activities. CDC may use this funding to support eligible state expenses incurred beginning in January, 2020. The federal act requires that half of the funding allocated for local activities ($475 million) be allocated within 30 days of the enactment of the bill. read more…

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Election still set for April 7; Officials urge absentee voting

Election still set for April 7; Officials urge absentee voting

With voters set to decide local school board and other nonpartisan local contests, a state Supreme Court race, and cast presidential preference votes, Gov. Evers has decided against postponing Wisconsin’s April 7 election.

However, in an effort to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus through social distancing, state officials are urging Wisconsinites to vote early or cast absentee ballots. Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official, encourages individuals to go to myvote.wi.gov to request an absentee ballot online. Registered voters can also mail, email or fax an absentee ballot request to their municipal clerk’s office.

The deadline for registering online is March 18. The deadline for registered voters to request an absentee ballot by mail is April 2.  Absentee ballots must be received in a local clerk’s office or at a voter’s polling place by 8 p.m. on Election Day. read more…

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Gov. Evers issues “Safer at Home” order

Statewide school closures become indefinite

From the Governor’s office:

Gov. Tony Evers today directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue an agency order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 people or more to slow the spread of COVID-19. The order applies to gatherings in a single room or single confined or enclosed space. The order makes exceptions for transportation, educational institutions, child care, hotels, military, law enforcement, food pantries, hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants and bars can only offer take-out or delivery, grocery stores and convenience stores, utility facilities, job centers, and courts. 

Additionally, schools will be closed (for instructional and extracurricular activities) for the duration of the public health emergency.

Originally, schools had a tentative return date of April 6.  See the full release and the new emergency order.

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State Senate to postpone March floor session

State Senate to postpone March floor session

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald released the following statement regarding the state Senate’s March schedule, which was planned for next week (Mar 24-26): 

“After hearing feedback from a number of members, I have decided to postpone the Senate’s planned March floor period. This is out of an abundance of caution for Senators, their family members, and staff members who may be vulnerable to coronavirus.  

“The Wisconsin State Senate will continue to function during this public health emergency. After discussions with Speaker Vos, the Legislature will call an extraordinary session this spring so the Senate can complete our business.” read more…

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