School districts that want waivers from state instructional time requirements will get them, the Department of Public Instruction said Monday, now that the governor has ordered all public and private schools to be shuttered for at least two and a half weeks amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
DPI announced the move in response to the “ongoing public health emergency.” Districts will still need to apply for the waiver, but the approval process will be expedited.
Last week, Gov. Tony Evers directed the state Department of Health Services to order the closure of all schools by 5 p.m. Wednesday. On Monday, all Dane County schools closed.
Students will not return to their school buildings until at least April 6 in an effort to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
Additionally, DPI said it is “aggressively pursuing” a waiver from federally mandated assessments and will work with Evers and the state Legislature “around suspending state testing requirements this spring due to the unprecedented circumstances.”
“DPI is taking action to remove barriers that may be in the way of our schools and students during these trying times,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said in a statement. “I am proud of our schools and communities, who remain focused on providing continuity of learning, and providing meals and other resources to students who may need them.”
School districts are required to provide a minimum number of instructional hours for students each year depending on their grade level.
Students in kindergarten must annually receive at least 437 hours of instruction. Those in first through sixth grade must get at least 1,050, and middle and high schoolers must get at least 1,137.
Madison School District spokesman Tim LeMonds said the district will likely apply for a waiver.