COVID-19 Update - Latest developments and major open issues

As you may have seen broadcast late yesterday, the Governor has directed residents to stay at home, with the exception of a broad range of individuals classified across 16 “Essential Critical Infrastructure Sectors” and a number of exceptions for necessary daily activities that include access to food, prescriptions and health care. 
We immediately reached out to the Administration to ask about the impact this new Executive Order would have on the recent legislation, Executive Orders and guidance directed specifically to schools. It was confirmed that the functions being performed by K-12 personnel under earlier direction will be considered among the essential sectors identified in the new statewide shelter-in-place order. As a result, this should not change any of the specific guidance issued Tuesday, which is substantially predicated upon each LEA’s ability to offer services, to the extent it is practicable and feasible.
Governor Newsom suggested that the effort to have citizens shelter-in-place would be enforced based upon social obligation and social pressure, as opposed to an order of enforcement by local authorities. It is notable that a substantial number of counties across the state have already implemented shelter-in-place orders, while school districts have continued to serve meals and work toward implementation of the Governor’s K-12 guidance.
The working relationship between the Governor and the State Superintendent has been remarkable. The guidance for the Governor’s Executive Order last week was jointly developed and presented by State Superintendent Thurmond and the CDE, along with key officials from the Governor’s Administration. 
As we reported, the other significant order by the Governor this week was his order to suspend the federally required assessments this year and pursue a federal waiver from those requirements. 
There are a number of key issues that we are continuing to pursue on behalf of K-12 education clients including:
  • Coordinating with CDE’s Department of Nutrition Services in advocating the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture provide waivers on a number of crucial issues that impact our ability to provide meals, help clear away burdensome regulations and potential penalties, and to secure appropriate funding for feeding kids.
  • Organizing advocacy efforts by school agencies to urge the U.S. Department of Education and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) for waivers related to special education mandates that simply cannot be met when schools are closed.
  • Drawing attention of State leaders to the need for balance between a district’s governance team to act decisively to serve the well-being of students and the importance of collaboration with our union partners. The current crisis demands a collective, unified effort by educators, which has been the case throughout most of the state. There are some instances of this crisis being exploited for economic gain that have been raised with the Governor’s team.
We will keep you informed of further developments on these and other issues that emerge over the coming days.
Kevin Gordon, President
Capitol Advisors Group, LLC