Washington Works to Address Coronavirus
AACTE Responds to COVID-19
This blog post is written by AACTE consultant Jane West and is intended to provide updated information. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of AACTE.
Congress is working to respond to the pandemic on multiple levels. To date seven members of Congress have announced that they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are self-quarantining. A staff member of Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has tested positive for the virus and Sen. Cantwell has closed her office. The U.S. Capitol has ceased public tours, both those member and staff led. The Capitol complex, including House and Senate office buildings, is restricted to official business only. Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) noted “We should encourage people to not travel here right now.” Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared the District a state of emergency and limited gatherings. Likewise, the Governors of Maryland and Virginia have declared states of emergency and limited gatherings.
President Trump and other cabinet members have likewise been exposed to at least one person who has tested positive. To date, they are not self-quarantining.
- Coronavirus arrives on Capitol Hill: First Senate staffer diagnosed with covid-19
- Lawmakers self-quarantine after contact with confirmed coronavirus cases
- S. Capitol to stop all public tours amid coronavirus outbreak
- Coronavirus Takes Toll on K-12 and Higher Education
Legislation to Address Virus
On March 6, Congress quickly passed an emergency response $8 billion bill to help states and localities address the pandemic. Leader Pelosi (D-CA) has been negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin on a second multi billion dollar package which is reported to address issues like paid sick leave and food and nutrition for those in need. This bill could pass the House today. Sen. Patty Murray (D) has introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act —a $3 billion bill which would include $1.2 billion for education preparedness and support grants; $600 million for early care and education programs; $1.2 billion for emergency financial aid for students and $3 million for the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. Additionally, there would be new flexibility for students and institutions of higher education to ensure continued access to federal financial aid during the epidemic.
The House is scheduled to go into recess for a week beginning today. This is likely to occur so long as the bill noted above is passed. The Senate, which was also scheduled to go into recess today, will stay in session next week to take up the package the House is developing.
It is reported that the appropriations process is continuing as planned; however, that could change.
U.S. Department of Education
The Department of Education issued a notice to all its employees that they should be prepared to telework. A Summit on the Special Education Teacher shortage scheduled for next week sponsored by the Department of Education was cancelled. We are all staying tuned for further developments.
Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on COVID-19
The Department of Education has issued guidance on a number of topics related to both K-12 and higher education. They include providing services to students with disabilities during the coronavirus, student privacy and COVID-19, ESSA accountability requirements during coronavirus, and guidance for higher education during interruption of study during coronavirus. Learn more.
Rare Bipartisan Rebuke of DeVos Rule on Defrauded Students
This week the Senate passed a bill blocking Sec. DeVos’ regulation which makes it harder for defrauded students loan borrowers have their debts forgiven. The bill, H.J. Res. 76 (116), passed the House last month and was endorsed by a bi-partisan group of Senators with a 53-42 vote. Ten Republican Senators voted to block the DeVos regulation. It is not clear if President Trump will sign the bill. At one point the White House threatened a veto, yet President Trump has said he is “neutral” on the bill. The Congress does not have a veto-proof majority to overcome a possible veto. Learn more.
New Resources for Educators
- The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has issued a report outlining standards, qualifications, roles, supports, and compensation for the profession of early childhood educators working with children ages birth through age 8.
- GLSEN has released a report which finds that two in five LGBTQ students of color are harassed on the basis of both race and sexual identity.
Continue reading the full Washington update on my website for more information.
Be well and stay in touch on twitter @janewestdc.