Updates from MDE: 12-21-2020

department of education

December 21, 2020

Updates in this email:

Safe Learning Plan Updates

Yesterday, Governor Walz announced updates to Minnesota's Safe Learning Plan as we continue to prioritize in-person learning for young learners. Commissioner Ricker sent a message to school leaders, providing information on these updates.

COVID-19 Saliva Testing for All In-Person and Hybrid School Staff

We have a lot of information to share with you about COVID-19 testing for school staff and we'll be hosting three virtual trainings next week. Please look out for a communication from MDE about COVID-19 testing, which will be sent out to superintendents, charter directors and COVID-19 coordinators soon.

In the meantime, you may want to send a note to your staff to let them know some basics of the testing program and inform them that more information is coming soon. Please feel free to use this template communication to get started.

Pandemic-EBT for the 2020-21 School Year

The Continuing Appropriations Act 2021 and Other Extensions Act (P.L. 116-159) extends Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) through the end of September 2021, meaning that P-EBT will be available for the whole school year 2020-21. There are two levels of eligibility. First, schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program become eligible after they are closed or operating with reduced hours or attendance for at least five consecutive days. Once a school meets the eligibility requirement, students who are eligible for free or reduced-price (FRP) meals during school year 2020-21 qualify for P-EBT benefits on days they do not eat meals at school (e.g., distance learning). Benefits are not available immediately but may be retroactive to September 2020, depending upon when FRP eligibility is determined.

Action items:

  1. Communicate with families the urgency to submit their free or reduced-price meal application. You may use or modify this sample P-EBT message, if desired.
  2. Encourage families to update their physical address, phone number and email address in the student information system so benefit cards are sent to the correct place.

Details will be shared as soon as they become available.

Free and Reduced-Price Meal Certification Extension

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Legislature passed SF31,which provides an extension of the deadline for certifying free and reduced-price meal applications for this school year only. This also extends the direct certification deadline. Without these laws, the annual deadline is December 15. The extension allows schools to continue to certify Applications for Educational Benefits, Alternate Applications for Educational Benefits and direct certification through January 4, 2021. These certifications can be reported on MARSS using the Economic Indicator data item and will be included in the school’s compensatory revenue calculation for FY 2022. The updated MARSS files are still due on Thursday, January 7, 2021.

The law requires schools to log the number of students whose free or reduced-price meal eligibility is certified during the extended deadline. These numbers will be reported to MDE. We are working with our MNIT staff to develop a system for this reporting.

Training Opportunities, Important Dates and Announcements

U.S. Senate Youth Program Application Window CLOSES  December 22

The 59th annual United States Senate Youth Program (USSYP) will be held in an online format for 2021. Washington Week Online will take place March 14–18, 2021, and will be a fully immersive learning experience incorporating the key elements of the program week in an exciting, interactive format. Attendance at Washington Week Online is a requirement of the program. 

  • Completed application packets may be mailed to the Minnesota Department of Education or emailed as attachments. See full mailing address on the application or submit application documents via email to: mde.USSYP@state.mn.us
  • Deadline Extended: Applications must be postmarked or emailed by Tuesday, December 22, 2020.

High school principals, counselors and social studies teachers can help us promote this program to students. Please share this information with these staff. The program brochure and application form are available on our program website and may be shared with your students, other educators or anyone who is associated with students who may be interested in the program. Each secondary school may nominate one student for the program. For more information, contact: U.S. Senate Youth Program Coordinator for Minnesota Email: mde.USSYP@state.mn.us 

Restorative Practices in Schools and Communities Online Circle Sessions and Circle Trainings

Registration is open for Restorative Practices in Schools and Communities Online Circle Sessions and Circle Trainings in January and February. Restorative practices is an approach schools can use to improve school climate and repair harm, based in the knowledge and world-view of many Indigenous cultures. The Restorative Practices Online Circle Sessions, January/February 2021 provide opportunities for deeper exploration of repairing harm, as well as the circle process, for both experienced practitioners and people new to the circle process. For further information contact Nancy Riestenberg, Minnesota Department of Education, 651-582-8433.

0-4 Year Old Census Counts

If your district has not submitted the fall 2020 0-4 Census Count, the data was due at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) by end of day November 30, 2020.  The fall 2020 0-4 Census Online Data Submission System has been shut down. The data is necessary in order to calculate funding for the School Readiness Program and the Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) program.

Please submit your fall 2020 0-4 Census (broken down by age) via email to Greg Sogaard at greg.sogaard@state.mn.us , as soon as possible.  If you have submitted your fall 2020 counts please disregard this message.

If you have any questions regarding the submission of 0-4 Census Data, please contact Greg Sogaard at 651-582-8858.

Please note that this memo does not apply to charter schools.

Final Review of FY 2020 Long-Term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM) Approved vs. UFARS Expenditures Reconciliation Report and 19-20 Aid Entitlement Report

Please Note: The Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Long-Term Facilities Maintenance (LTFM) reconciliation process does not apply to charter schools.

Please reference the December 17, 2020 Memo – FY 2020 LTFM Revenue - Final Review of Approved vs. UFARS Expenditure Reconciliation Report and 19-20 Aid Entitlement Report.

All school districts are reminded to complete the final review of the two FY 2020 LTFM Reconciliation spreadsheets as soon as possible, but no later than the January 5, 2021.  All districts are required to respond to the MDE Facilities email (mde.facilities@state.mn.us) by the January 5 deadline and inform MDE of one of the following:

  1. Your school district has reviewed the FY 2020 LTFM Reconciliation Spreadsheets and agrees with the numbers, or
  2. Your school district has reviewed the FY 2020 LTFM Reconciliation Spreadsheets, but does not agree with the numbers and wishes to appeal.  Appeal information and additional documentation to substantiate the appeal must be submitted no later than January 5, 2021, to be considered in final LTFM revenue authority.  For further information, please reference the appeal process in the December 17, 2020 Memo.

If you have questions regarding the FY 2020 LTFM Revenue Reconciliation Memo, please contact Sarah C. Miller.

Social Studies Standards Update: First Draft Available for Comment through January 4, 2021

This year, the Social Studies Academic Standards are being reviewed and revised by a committee of 44 members including K-12 teachers, administrators, college faculty, informal educators and community members. This committee has met multiple times over the last few months and they have developed the first draft of the new standards. This draft is currently open for public comment. Learn more on the Social Studies web page and share this opportunity with your school community.