Governor Issues Executive Order to Provide Funding for School Districts that close to Address COVID-19

CATEGORY: Special Bulletins
CLIENT TYPE: Public Education
PUBLICATION: LCW Special Bulletin
DATE: Mar 16, 2020

On Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to provide for continuous funding to California public school districts that close in order to address COVID-19.  In order to receive the funding, districts will need to take certain actions, including using the money to fund distance learning and high quality educational opportunities, provide school meals and, as practicable, arrange for the supervision for students during school hours.

Governor Newsom took this action because, “Closing schools has a massive, cascading effect for our kids and their families – especially those least equipped financially to deal with them. The needs of California kids must be met regardless of whether their school is open or closed. School districts that choose to close must use state educational dollars to quickly meet the needs of children and families.”

Previously, the California Department of Education issued guidance that districts would not be able to generate funding through that distance learning, or other forms of independent study.  Under the Executive Order, however, if a district closes its schools to address COVID-19, the district is not prohibited from offering distance learning or independent study to students impacted by a school closure.

In fact, in order to receive funding, the district must implement the following during the closure:

  • Continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students to the extent feasible through, among other options, distance learning and/or independent study;
  • Provide school meals in noncongregate settings through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option, consistent with the requirements of the California Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture;
  • Arrange for, to the extent practicable, supervision for students during ordinary school hours; and
  • Continue to pay employees.

The Executive Order also directs the California Department of Education and the Health and Human Services Agency to jointly develop and issue guidance by March 17, 2020 that addresses, at least, the following topics:

  • Implementing distance learning strategies and addressing equity and access issues that may arise due to differential access to Internet connectivity and technology;
  • Ensuring students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education consistent with their individualized education program and meeting other procedural requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and California law; and
  • Providing meals to be served in non-congregate settings at school and non-school sites in a manner that protects the safety of both students and school personnel, including classified employees.

Finally, Districts are relieved from the duty to provide an affidavit under Education Code section 41422 stating that there is a condition that prevents keeping the district’s schools open for 175 days.  Instead, the District’s superintendent (or the county superintendent of schools, or the charter school leader) can certify in writing to the Superintendent of Public Instruction that the closure occurred to address COVID-19.

The full text of the Order can be found here:  https://www.gov.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/3.13.20-EO-N-26-20-Schools.pdf.

Liebert Cassidy Whitmore is continuing to monitor developments related to COVID-19 as these matters evolve.  We are available to help you navigate these difficult issues, including: general education law, employment matters, labor/effects bargaining issues and student equal access/504 issues.