E-Update for the Week of March 16, 2020
- On March 14, the House adopted an amended version of H.R.6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” with a 363-40 bipartisan vote. The provides some employees with paid sick leave if needing to quarantine or receive treatment from illness due to the coronavirus. The bill also includes provisions to support students and families facing the impacts of school closures. The Senate is expected to consider the bill when they return to session on March 16.
- On March 13, during a press conference to provide updates on the Administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump announced he is instituting an indefinite halt on the collection of federal student loan interest.
- On March 11, the Senate approved H.J.Res.76, which provides for “congressional disapproval… of the rule submitted by [USED] relating to borrower defense.” The Senate approved the measure on a semi-bipartisan vote of 53-42.
Coronavirus (as related to education issues):
Note that all information related to the coronavirus (or COVID-19) is up to date as of 5:00 pm on March 15, 2020. Given the fast-moving nature of congressional and Administrative actions to address the growing pandemic, we will do our best to update this information as quickly as possible.
Murray releases coronavirus response bill, intends to help schools with cleaning, training costs: Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) released the “Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act.” The bill provides $3 billion in mandatory funding over two years to provide emergency grants for schools, districts, and early child care providers to respond and prevent contagious illness outbreaks, such as the coronavirus pandemic. Fund can be used for purchasing cleaning supplies for facilities; providing training and professional development for staff on sanitation and best practices to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases; covering costs necessary to maintain the operation of programs; providing mental health supports to students and staff; and, developing and implementing procedures to improve preparedness and response efforts.
March 13, 2020
House advances second coronavirus response bill, focus on paid leave and school lunch continuity for families: The House adopted an amended version of H.R.6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” with a 363-40 bipartisan vote. House Democrats introduced a previous version of the bill earlier in the week, but changes were negotiated by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who represented the White House. According to a summary by the House Education and Labor Committee, the bill would provide employees of employers with fewer than 500 employees or government employers the ability to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave due to impacts of the coronavirus. Employees may take paid leave to recover from the virus or maintain a quarantine due to the virus; to care for an at-risk family member who has been, or may have been, exposed to the virus; or to care for a child if the child’s school or child care provider has been closed due to the virus. Employees would receive full pay for two weeks and then two-thirds of their usual pay for any time beyond. The bill only requires employers provide this paid leave requirement until December 31, 2020. The bill also includes enhanced Unemployment Insurance. Additional components of the bill include but are not limited to:
- No cost diagnostic testing for coronavirus, including for those with private health plans and the uninsured;
- A supplemental increase of $500 million to the Special Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC) to provide continued access to food for women who lose their jobs or are laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic;
- $400 million to assist local food banks, $300 million of which is to purchase additional food;
- A provision for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to create a national waiver for states to provide supplemental assistance for families with children who attend schools closed due to the coronavirus. Additional payments equal to the cost of a school meal would be added to a family’s Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card to help offset the loss in access to free or reduced meals typically provided by the school;
- A provision to provide the USDA authority to issue waivers for state school nutrition plans even if such waivers would increase costs to the federal government;
- A provision to provide the USDA authority to issue a nationwide waiver to increase flexibility for state implementation of the School Lunch Program;
- The suspension of work and work training requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The president, in a tweet, expressed his support for the bill and called for Republicans to “VOTE YES.” He went on to say he looks forward to “signing the final Bill, ASAP!” The bill will be considered by the Senate when they return to session on March 16. The House bill is here. A summary of the bill from House Democrats is here. The president’s tweets are here. A Dear Colleague Letter from the Speaker is here.
March 14, 2020
Trump halts all federal loan interest, details still sparse: During a press conference to provide updates on the Administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump announced he is instituting an indefinite halt on the collection of federal student loan interest. “To help our students and their families, I’ve waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies and that will be until further notice,” stated the president. No further details have been released as to how the temporary pause in collections will be implemented.
March 13, 2020
U.S. Department of Education (USED):
DeVos releases updated guidance on FERPA, IDEA, and alludes potential action on accountability waivers: On March 12, U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Betsy DeVos released a set of guidance documents for schools impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The Department has provided guidance on how districts can protect student privacy while abiding by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA); can ensure that students with disabilities continue to receive services as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); and how the Department is considering creating a one-year targeted waiver for districts to apply for when struggling to meet assessment and accountability standards due to interrupted instruction related to the coronavirus outbreak. “We are working closely with our inter-agency partners to provide state and local leaders the information they need to ensure the health and safety of their students and educators,” stated the Secretary. A Department press release is here. The FERPA guidance is here. The IDEA guidance is here. The accountability guidance is here.
March 12, 2020
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA):
USDA approves 25 states, DC to implement school lunch flexibilities: POLITICO reported that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved waivers for 25 states and the District of Columbia to provide students meals outside of group settings. The waivers allow schools to provide qualifying students with continued meal service, even if a school may be shut down due to the coronavirus. The schools are allowed to operate their meal service using the Summer Feeding Service Program guidelines.
March 13, 2020
Senate approves borrower defense CRA, unclear on if Trump will veto: The Senate approved H.J.Res.76, which provides for “congressional disapproval… of the rule submitted by [USED] relating to borrower defense.” The Senate approved the measure on a semi-bipartisan vote of 53-42. The resolution enacts the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to prevent Secretary DeVos from enacting or enforcing her rule related to borrower defense. The bill heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. The White House previously issued a Statement of Administration Policy regarding the resolution and expressed the president would be recommended to veto the resolution. The Senate vote is here. The resolution is here. The Statement of Administration Policy is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here.
March 11, 2020
Scott asks for Inspector General to investigate USED borrower defense formula deliberations: House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) sent a letter to the USED Office of the Inspector General requesting they investigate how the Department’s borrower defense partial relief formula. Specifically, the Chairman is interested to determine how much expert feedback was used to inform the creation of the formula and what considerations the Department made related to how the formula will impact student borrowers. The letter is here. A statement is here.
March 9, 2020
U.S. Department of Labor (DOL):
Labor Department releases final apprenticeship rule: The Department of Labor (DOL) published in the Federal Register a final rule regarding the Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP). The final rule provides for the creation of apprenticeship programs that are recognized outside of the federally recognized apprenticeships. Instead, IRAPs would be developed or operated by Standards Recognition Entities (SREs), which are trade or industry groups, corporations, non-profits, unions, or educational institutions. The SREs would be responsible for working with employers to ensure the apprenticeships are “high-quality” and “provide apprentices with industry-recognized credentials.” The final rule is here. A press release from the Department is here. A statement by Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA) is here. A statement by House Education and Labor Committee Ranking Member Virginia Foxx (R-NC) is here.
March 10, 2020
Publications (Outside Organizations):
- On March 12, GLSEN published a series of report titled, “Erasure and Resilience: The Experiences of LGBTQ Students of Color.” The report series is focused on the school experiences of LGBTQ+ students who also identify as Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI), Black, Latinx, and Native and Indigenous youth. The reports highlight students’ feeling of safety at school; experiences of racist and anti-LGBTQ harassment and assault; effects of a hostile school climate; and experiences of school disciplinary action. The reports are here.
- On March 9, Power to the Profession published a report titled, “Unifying Framework for the Early Childhood Education Profession.” The framework is intended to provide unity and clarity on career pathways, knowledge and competencies, qualifications, standards, accountability, supports, and compensation for the early childhood profession. The full framework is here.
Upcoming Events (Congressional and Administration):
- The House will be in recess between March 16-March 20. The House will return to session on March 23. The Senate was originally scheduled to be in recess between March 16-23, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the recess is canceled so that Members have time to consider legislation related to the coronavirus pandemic.
- On either March 24 or April 1, USED Secretary DeVos is expected to testify in front of the House Education and Labor Committee. The Secretary would testify on the Department’s FY2021 budget request.
- On April 15, states must submit their three-year Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V) state plans. States previously submitted their one-year transition plans. More information is here.
- On April 29, it is expected the House Appropriations Labor/HHS Subcommittee will hold a markup of its FY2021 Labor/HHS appropriations bill.
- On May 13, it is expected the House Appropriations Committee will hold a markup of the FY2021 House Labor/HHS appropriations bill.
Upcoming Events (Outside Organizations):
- On March 18 at 1:00 pm, Education Week will hold an event titled, “Uprooting Inequities in Schools.” The webinar will focus on the hard work behind confronting inequities such as challenging educators’ longstanding biases and practice, re-allocating resources, and removing barriers to advanced coursework. More information and registration are here.
- On March 18 at 2:00 pm, the Institute for Educational Leadership (IEL) and the Coalition for Community School will co-hold an event titled, “The Impact of the New York City Community Schools Initiative.” The webinar will focus on a RAND Corporation study of the initiative and the outcomes that community schools have had on students who attend. More information and registration are here.
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for interest-free deferment on student loans for borrowers serving in a veterinary internship or residency program.
Sponsor: Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
A bill to allow the Secretary of Agriculture to grant certain waivers under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to address school closures due to COVID-19, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN)
A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to eligible local educational agencies to encourage female students to pursue studies and careers in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.
Sponsor: Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA)
A bill to authorize the Secretary of Agriculture to provide certain food assistance for eligible children during periods when their schools are closed due to a public health emergency; and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH)
A bill to provide for certain waivers of program requirements under the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to appropriately address safety measures with respect to COVID-19, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
A bill to amend the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require an on-line portal, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-PA)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to provide for certain freedom of association protections, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ)
A bill to establish a competitive grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to support the development, production, and distribution of public media programming designed to prepare Americans for in-demand occupations that address the needs of state and local economies.
Sponsor: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL)
A bill to direct the Secretary of Labor to award grants to develop, administer, and evaluate early childhood education apprenticeships, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Senator Todd Young (R-IN)
A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require program participation agreements between institutions of higher education and Hanban if a Confucius Institute operates on the campus of the institution.
Sponsor: Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)