Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)Updated May 21, 2021, 10:07 AM
We aim to provide state Part C and Part B, Section 619 programs with the latest information on funding and guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Begin by exploring answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and if you have specific questions pertaining to Part C or Section 619, contact your ECTA state contact. For Part B, K-21, contact NCSI. This infographic features resources and information from families to support their children's learning and development.
January 20, 2021
This series shares the experiences of practitioners and families from across the country, illustrating how the fields of early education and early childhood special education are successfully supporting preschoolers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.Watch Now
On This Page
- The White House
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Center for Medicaid Services
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Resources for Small Businesses
- Remote Service Delivery and Distance Learning in response to COVID-19
- National Organizations
- State Guidance
The White House
Executive Order on Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers
January 21, 20201
President Biden issued this Executive Order on supporting the safe reopening and continued operation of schools, child care providers, Head Start programs, and institutions of higher education.
U.S. Department of Education
This page provides information, tools, and resources to help parents, teachers and related service providers meet the educational, behavioral, and emotional needs of children and youth with disabilities through remote and virtual learning. Additionally, a searchable database is available to filter these resources by age, audience and topic.
February 5, 2020
To help safely reopen America's schools and promote educational equity, the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) at the U.S. Department of Education today announced the largest representative and highest-quality effort yet to gather vital data on the impact of COVID-19 on students and the status of in-person learning.
Currently, there is not enough data to understand the status of school re-opening and how students are learning nationwide. This project, known as the "NAEP 2021 School Survey," will collect high-quality data from a nationally and state-representative sample.
Question and Answer Documents
October 21, 2020
These OSEP-developed question and answer documents respond to inquiries from IDEA program coordinators and others:
- Implementation of IDEA Part C Provision of Services in the COVID-19 environment (October 21, 2020)
- Implementation of IDEA Part B Provision of Services in the COVID-19 environment (September 28, 2020)
- Part C Evaluation and Assessment Timelines in the COVID-19 Environment (July 6, 2020)
- Part C Procedural Safeguards in the COVID-19 Environment (June 30, 2020)
- Part B Procedural Safeguards in the COVID-19 Environment (June 30, 2020)
- Implementation of IDEA Part C Use of Funds (June 26, 2020)
- Implementation of IDEA Part B Use of Funds (June 26, 2020)
- Flexibility in Implementation of IDEA Part B Fiscal Requirements (June 26, 2020)
- IDEA Part C Dispute Resolution Procedures (June 22, 2020)
- IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution Procedures (June 22, 2020)
- Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak (March 12, 2020)
Waiver Authority for the Period of Availability for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C Funds for Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018
September 10, 2020
This waiver only applies to Part C State Lead Agencies that are also State Education Agencies. The text of the letter is reprinted below:
Waiver Authority for the Period of Availability for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C Funds for Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018
Under section 3511(b)(1)(B) of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), Pub. L. No. 116-136 (March 27, 2020), the Secretary of Education is authorized to consider waivers to extend the period of availability of certain Federal funds to SEAs responsible for implementing Federal programs. The CARES Act provides substantial relief to children, families, educators, and service providers who have been profoundly affected by the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). Funds provided under Part C of IDEA are to assist each State to maintain and implement a statewide, comprehensive, coordinated, multidisciplinary, interagency system to provide early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. Under the CARES Act, State Lead Agencies that are also SEAs may request a waiver for the period of availability for the use of IDEA Part C funds. The CARES Act does not authorize the Secretary to consider waivers from State Lead Agencies that are not SEAs.
Specifically, as a State Lead Agency that is also an SEA, you may request a waiver on behalf of your State that will permit the IDEA Part C lead agency to use Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2018 IDEA Part C grant award funds for an additional year beyond what is known as the Tydings period. This action is taken as a result of the on-going national emergency declared by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, and to assist in your planning for how to continue the provision of early intervention services to infants, toddlers and children with disabilities and their families.
Your State may now submit a streamlined waiver request for an extension of the period of availability in Section 421(b) of the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) for FFY 2018 IDEA Part C grant award funds. Upon approval of a waiver, the FFY 2018 IDEA Part C grant award funds will be available for obligation by the State lead agency through September 30, 2021 and may be liquidated through December 30, 2021. OSERS is committed to acting on and responding to complete waiver requests as quickly as possible. To that end, a waiver template is available which, if completed and submitted electronically to IDEAwaiver@ed.gov, will result in an expedited response from the Department. The waiver template in fillable portable document format (PDF) is attached to this memorandum and is also posted at www.ed.gov/coronavirus.
The attached request must be signed by the SEA State lead agency. Your State's SEA representative (Chief State School Officer or other authorized representative) will need to submit the waiver request.
Thank you for your ongoing work in support of educators, families, and infants, toddlers and children with disabilities during these extraordinary circumstances. If you have questions or need additional information regarding submission of your IDEA Part C waiver request, please contact us at IDEAwaiver@ed.gov. If you have general questions regarding COVID-19 and how the U.S. Department of Education can best support you, please contact COVIDemail@example.com. I encourage you to continue to monitor information regarding COVID-19 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and stay abreast of information and resources for schools and school personnel at http://www.ed.gov/coronavirus.
cc: Part C Coordinators of SEA lead agencies
September 1, 2020
This fact sheet addresses the use of grant funds to cover the cost of approved contracted services that were not performed by a contractor because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The text of the fact sheet is reprinted below:
- Updated August 2020
Can grant funds be used to cover the cost of approved contracted services that were not performed by a contractor because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, in some limited circumstances, grant funds may be used to cover the costs of contracted services that were cancelled or otherwise not performed due to the COVID-19 pandemic if the contractor was ready and able to perform such services at the time. In determining whether grant funds may be used, the grantee or subgrantee should follow the steps set forth below.
Check on alternative arrangements first: If the contracted services are necessary to carry out the Federal award, the Department encourages grantees and subgrantees to work with their third-party contractors to, first, devise alternative ways to provide those services (e.g., teleconferencing, training via webinars, and other virtual or remote strategies for service delivery) to carry out the intent and purpose of the contracts, to the greatest extent practicable. In so doing, the grantee or subgrantee should demonstrate its best efforts to ensure continuity of needed services under the Federal award during the pandemic. The provision of services through an alternative means may require modification of the contract in order to enable payment for the services rendered via alternative or virtual means. Any such modification of the contract should be negotiated so that the costs paid are reasonable and necessary.
Steps if services cannot be provided in an alternative manner: If the services cannot be provided in an alternative manner and funds were already paid to the contractor, as we also discussed, in the guidance on travel and conferences,1 the grantee or subgrantee must first seek to recover refundable and nonrefundable costs from the relevant entity that was paid (i.e., the contractor). Some entities and businesses are offering flexibility regarding refunds, credits, and other remedies for losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, many agreements or contracts for conferences, training, or other activities related to a grant contain emergency or "act of God" or "force majeure" provisions, and the grantee and its subgrantees must seek to enforce such provisions to the maximum extent possible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If a grantee or subgrantee is unable to recover funds paid, and the contractor was prevented from performing under the contract, but was ready and able to perform such services at the time, due to the grantee's or subgrantee's closure or other inability to accept the services, caused by the pandemic, the grantee or subgrantee should try to negotiate a reasonable compromise amount. However, if no compromise can be negotiated, the grantee or subgrantee may charge the appropriate grant for the costs of cancelling the contract, provided the contract costs were reasonable and incurred in order to carry out an allowable activity under the grant, consistent with the Federal cost principles described in 2 CFR Part 200 Subpart E of the Uniform Guidance (Federal cost principles).
If the grantee or subgrantee was ready and able to accept the contracted services, but the contractor could not provide the contracted services due to the pandemic, the grantee or subgrantee must not pay for the services because such costs would not satisfy the requirements of the Federal cost principles.
If there are State or local laws, regulations, or executive orders directly addressing a specific cost item or items during this emergency situation as affected by COVID-19, their effect on the grant will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to determine allowability and allocability under the Federal cost principles.
Grantees and subgrantees should not assume additional funds will be available to cover any shortage in funds that may occur as a result of payments for services that were not provided and/or received. Grantees and subgrantees must maintain appropriate records and cost documentation as required by 2 CFR § 200.302 (financial management) and 2 CFR § 200.333 (retention requirements for records) to substantiate the charging of any cancellation or other fees related to interruption of operations or services.
- 1 See the fact sheet on travel and conferences at: https://www2.ed.gov/documents/coronavirus/factsheet-fiscal-questions.pdf.
400 MARYLAND AVE., SW, WASHINGTON, DC 20202
The Department of Education's mission is to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.
Report to Congress of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Recommended Waiver Authority under the CARES Act
April 27, 2020
The report includes waiver authority recommendation for one early childhood IDEA waiver, which is specific to transition from Part C to Part B. This waiver authority would provide the Secretary with the authority to extend the IDEA Part B transition evaluation timelines (Part B initial evaluation) so that toddlers served under Part C may continue to receive services after their third birthday and until a Part B evaluation could be completed and eligibility determined. The recommendation goes on to state that this flexibility should allow for CARES Act funds or other Federal education funds (e.g., IDEA Part B funds) to be used to provide these services. U.S. Secretary DeVos does not recommend Congress pass any additional waivers concerning Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the IDEA during the COVID-19 national emergency.
Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities
March 21, 2020
Many schools and programs are moving to distance learning or tele-intervention. Some educators may feel reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. In this March 21, 2020 document, OSEP reminds schools they should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction for students with disabilities. A Spanish-language version of this fact sheet is also available: Hoja informativa sobre el riesgo de COVID-19 en escuelas preescolares, primarias y secundarias que atienden a niños con discapacidades
May 18, 2020
This fact sheet outlines States' responsibilities to English learners and their parents during the extended school closures and, in some cases, the move to remote learning due COVID-19. LEAs should collaborate with its SEA and local public health department, as appropriate, in implementing the guidance provided.
Email to SEA Directors and Part C Coordinators Regarding Submission Flexibility for FY 2020 IDEA Grant Applications
April 26, 2020
The text of the email is reprinted below:
- From: Corr, Greg
- Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2020 6:04 PM
- Subject: Submission Flexibility for FY 2020 IDEA Grant Applications
Dear SEA Director and Part C Coordinator,
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) appreciates your work in meeting the needs of infants, toddlers, students, and their families during the challenges imposed on your programs by the Covid-19 pandemic. We know you are operating under extremely stressful circumstances and we are continuously exploring ways in which we can alleviate some of that burden for you.
Many of you have contacted OSEP to share your challenges with submitting your IDEA grant application for FFY 2020. Specifically, you have discussed how the pandemic restrictions that exist within your States have hampered your ability to obtain wet signatures on your IDEA grant applications. In order to address these difficulties, OSEP is providing the following flexibilities for the FFY 2020 Grant Application process:
OSEP will accept a pdf copy of your State's FFY 2020 IDEA grant application with an electronic signature. This "e signature" can be a two-factor authenticated signature or an image file of the signature of the lead agency director or their designee that has the authority to certify the assurances that are contained in the application.
The pdf copy of your State's FFY 2020 grant application must be submitted to one of the following OSEP application email addresses:
The application due dates for the grant applications are:
- Part C: Friday, May 1, 2020
- Part B: Friday, May 15, 2020
If you need additional time to complete your grant application due to the revised submission instructions for 2020, please contact Jennifer Simpson at Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hard Copy Grant Applications:
States will still be required to submit hard copy FFY 2020 IDEA grant applications to OSEP by mail. However, the due date for submission of those documents to OSEP is no later than August 1, 2020.
We look forward to the receipt of your grant application documents.
A follow-up email was sent the following day, including additional instructions on electronic grant submission. The text of the email is reprinted below:
- From: Corr, Greg
- Sent: Monday, April 27, 2020 9:39 AM
- Subject: Additional Instructions -Electronic Grant Submission
SEA Directors and Part C Coordinators,
Sunday evening, I sent you an email that explained the flexibilities that are available to you for submission of your State's FFY 2020 IDEA Grant Applications (original message is included below). As you prepare to send your applications to OSEP, please follow these additional instructions:
- Provide the phone number and email address of the State government official who signed the application so that OSEP can contact them and verify that they signed the document.
- This information can be provided in the body of the email message that includes your grant application or can be included in a cover letter with your application.
- Ensure that your submission is sent from an official State government email address.
If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Simpson at Jennifer.email@example.com.
April 23, 2020
Congress set aside approximately $13.2 billion of the $30.75 billion allotted to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund). The Department will award these grants to State educational agencies (SEAs) for the purpose of providing local educational agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, with emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the Nation. ESSER Fund awards to SEAs are in the same proportion as each State received funds under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in fiscal year 2019. States have until July 1, 2020 to apply.
April 14, 2020
Congress has set aside approximately $3 billion of the $30.75 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund through the CARES Act for the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERF). These grants will be awarded to States (governor's offices) based on a formula stipulated in the legislation: 60% will be awarded based on the State's relative population of individuals aged 5 through 24 and 40% will be awarded based on the State's relative number of children counted under section 1124(c) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA).
If you have any questions, email GEERF@ed.gov
FERPA and Virtual Learning During COVID-19
March 30, 2020
March 24, 2020
OSEP sent a letter to State Directors and Part C Coordinators regarding SSIP timelines. The text of the letter is reprinted below:
- From: VanderPloeg, Laurie
- Sent: Tuesday, March 24, 2020 4:20 PM
- Subject: State Systemic Improvement Plan
Dear State Directors and Part C Coordinators:
In response to inquiries from multiple stakeholders and following deliberative conversations within the Department, OSEP would like to provide updates on upcoming timelines specific to the FFY 2018 SPP/APR, including the submission due date for the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP). We have recently received questions regarding a possible extension of the due date for the SSIP (Indicators B-17 and C-11) and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the SPP/APR clarification period and OSEP's issuance of States' annual determinations.
Although OSEP recognizes the unique and challenging circumstances state offices are experiencing, we have decided to adhere to the April 1, 2020 due date for the SSIP. We acknowledge that there may be circumstances related to the COVID-19 crisis that impact a State's ability to meet the April 1st deadline and OSEP is prepared to address State-specific needs as they arise. If you are unable to submit the SSIP by April 1st, please contact OSEP at SPPAPR@ed.gov, and cc Leslie.Fox@ed.gov, prior to April 1st.
As States continue to weather the impact of COVID-19 on schools and early intervention programs, OSEP recognizes that timely information and clear expectations are critical for your planning and decision-making. As you know, the SPP/APR clarification period is scheduled from April 14 - April 28 for Part C, and April 16 - April 30 for Part B. If necessary, OSEP may adjust these dates based on emerging issues. However, at this time we continue to be committed to completing our reviews of States' SPP/APRs and issuing determinations in a timely manner.
Thank you for your on-going work to support infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families under such challenging circumstances.
- Office of Special Education Programs | United States Department of Education
- 550 12th Street SW | Washington, D.C. 20202
- Phone: (202) 245-6180
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
See also: State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP)
March 20, 2020
Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students
March 16, 2020
This fact sheet from OCR presents the rights of students with disabilities during school closures, and reminds schools of their legal obligation to comply with non-discrimination obligations under civil rights laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the ADA, and provides tools to assist schools in facilitating distance learning for all students.
March 12, 2020
Non-Regulatory Guidance on Flexibility and Waivers for Grantees and Program Participants Impacted by Federally Declared Disasters (2018)
September 20, 2018
This document discusses waivers and other forms of relief from Federal requirements in order to provide programs the operational flexibility necessary to continue operations as they recover from extended school or program closures due to a disaster. The guidance addresses flexibility on reporting deadlines, timelines for grant-funded activities, and maintenance of fiscal effort or matching requirements, where applicable; proposes potential alternatives and strategies for providing program services after disruption; and suggests methods for ensuring continuity of services and communication with program participants. In addition, the document covers a variety of topics specific to various program areas.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Office of Head Start (OHS) is issuing regular COVID-19 Updates.
Office of Head Start Expectations for Head Start Programs in Program Year 2021–2022
May 20, 2021
OHS sent the following memorandum to Head Start and Early Head Start agencies and delegate agencies. The text of the memorandum is reprinted below, and its contents are also available on the ECLKC website and as a PDF download.
- From: ACF Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Log Number: ACF-PI-HS-21-04
- Issuance Date: 05/20/2021
- Originating Office: Office of Head Start
- Key Words: ERSEA; Recruitment; Selection; Enrollment; Virtual and Remote Services; In-person Services
To: Head Start and Early Head Start Grantees and Delegate Agencies
Subject: Office of Head Start (OHS) Expectations for Head Start Programs in Program Year (PY) 2021–2022
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Head Start programs — inclusive of Head Start, Early Head Start, Migrant and Seasonal Head Start, American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start, and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership programs — have faced unprecedented challenges. Beginning in spring 2020 and throughout PY 2020–2021, all of our directors, staff, and families have demonstrated resiliency, innovation, and perseverance. OHS has provided needed flexibilities and guidance that allowed programs to adapt services based on the changing health conditions in their communities. Now, as programs prepare for PY 2021–2022, OHS is providing updated guidance.
This Program Instruction (PI) outlines OHS’s expectations for Head Start programs to begin working toward full enrollment and providing in-person comprehensive services for all enrolled children, regardless of program option. The PI also addresses whether virtual or remote services are an allowable, long-term, locally designed option (LDO).
By virtual, OHS means services for children provided through technology. Remote refers to services provided via the delivery of supports and resources, such as educational materials or food boxes.
Operating Status and Enrollment
OHS expects Head Start programs to provide comprehensive services in their approved program options beginning in PY 2021–2022, to the extent possible, as local health conditions allow.
OHS acknowledges programs are in different stages of fully returning to in-person services. Many programs continued to provide in-person services for children and families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs are expected to continue serving children in person, as local health conditions allow.
Other Head Start programs have been alternating between in-person services, virtual or remote services, or some combination of the two, due to community health conditions. These programs are expected to move to in-person services, as local health conditions allow.
OHS expects programs to work toward full enrollment and full comprehensive services, contingent upon U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and state and local health department guidance and in consideration of local school districts’ decisions.
In September 2021, OHS will begin reviewing monthly enrollment in the Head Start Enterprise System (HSES) and discuss program plans for moving to full enrollment. Programs should build toward full enrollment and provide comprehensive services for all enrolled children as soon as possible. Programs must communicate with their Regional Office and be able to demonstrate why they are unable to be fully enrolled or serve children in person in their approved programs options. All programs must have plans in place that allow for adaptation to changing guidance and to changes in community conditions, which may affect achieving full enrollment or cause programs to temporarily suspend in-person services.
Beginning January 2022, OHS will reinstate pre-pandemic practices for tracking and monitoring enrollment. OHS will also resume evaluating which programs enter into the Full Enrollment Initiative in January 2022. All programs will start fresh, including those participating in the Full Enrollment Initiative prior to the pandemic. Reported enrollment in January 2022 is the first month of enrollment that OHS will evaluate for the under-enrollment process.
Virtual and Remote Services
Virtual and remote services for children are considered an interim strategy in the presence of an emergency or disaster and will not be approved as an LDO.
OHS has supported the implementation of virtual and remote services over the past 13 months. However, they are not an acceptable replacement for in-person comprehensive services. For PY 2021–2022, it is unallowable to have a program option run entirely by technology or delivering educational material, for example. OHS may still support some portion of services to continue remotely, as necessary.
OHS also recognizes that programs have discovered new virtual strategies for engaging families and reinforcing early learning and development at home. Innovations in virtual practice should be used as enhancements rather than substitutes for previously approved program options and service delivery.
Given their increased capacity to conduct virtual and remote services, programs may establish policies and procedures for temporary, weather-related virtual and remote services.
Head Start grantees have significant one-time funds and layered mitigation strategies available to support a return to in-person services. This includes access to the COVID-19 vaccine for adults.
Recruitment and Selection
As grantees look to summer programming and PY 2021–2022, OHS expects programs to prioritize recruiting eligible children and families.
Almost one third of children served in Head Start programs before the pandemic — approximately 250,000 — have not received any services to date.
The pandemic has created and exacerbated long-standing disparities and inequities for families who have been marginalized for decades. The number of children and families in poverty has grown significantly. All grantees should update their community assessments to guide their intensive recruitment efforts and to ensure they are reaching families most in need of services. If a program determines that their pre-pandemic approved program option will not meet the needs of the community, they must submit an updated community assessment and request approval for a change in scope.
Programs should also revisit their established selection criteria based on findings from their updated community assessment. As always, programs must include specific efforts to actively locate and recruit all eligible children and, in particular, those whose families are English language learners, experiencing homelessness, or affected by substance misuse, as well as children with disabilities and children in foster care.
The funds grantees have received from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) and Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Acts, as well from the American Rescue Plan, can and should be used to support enhanced community partnerships and related recruitment efforts. Per OHS guidance in ACF-PI-HS-21-03 FY 2021 American Rescue Plan Funding Increase for Head Start Programs, grantees have flexibility to determine which one-time investments best support the needs of staff, children, and families, while adhering to federal, state, and local guidance. This includes using funds to purchase services, materials, and technology to ramp up recruitment efforts, as well as to provide vaccine outreach and support as one layer of mitigation and protection for staff, children, and families.
Program planning for a full return to in-person services should include new and returning families at every step. Clear communication with families and regular invitations for input ensure Head Start services are most responsive to families, children, and the community.
OHS will support grantees through webinars and guidance as programs continue and return fully to in-person services. Additional resources and information are available on the Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC) website.
Please direct any questions regarding this PI to your Regional Office.
Thank you for your work on behalf of children and families.
Dr. Deborah Bergeron
- Office of Head Start
- Office of Early Childhood Development
Head Start Transportation Services and Vehicles During the COVID-19 Pandemic
June 22, 2020
The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) sent the following memorandum to Head Start and Early Head Start agencies and delegate agencies. The text of the memorandum is reprinted below, and its contents are also available on the ECLKC website and as a PDF download.
- From: ACF Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Log Number: ACF-IM-HS-20-04
- Issuance Date: 06/22/2020
- Originating Office: Office of Head Start
- Key Words: Transportation Services; Vehicles; COVID-19 Pandemic
To: All Head Start and Early Head Start Agencies and Delegate Agencies
Subject: Head Start Transportation Services and Vehicles During the COVID-19 Pandemic
School buses and allowable alternate vehicles are generally the safest mode of transportation for children. They are also necessary for many children and families to participate in Head Start programs. Implementing safe practices is essential when providing transportation services during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
When making decisions about transporting children, programs should consult local health officials and other state and local authorities, to the extent feasible. These authorities can help assess the current level of mitigation needed based on levels of COVID-19 community transmission and the capacities of local public healthcare systems. Staff should take steps to ensure they mitigate the risk with respect to school buses and allowable alternate vehicles. The steps Head Start programs take to reduce risk should be the same whether the program is providing its own transportation or relying on contracted or school district-provided transportation.
Support Transportation Staff Safety
- Strongly encourage staff members who are sick to stay home, particularly those who have tested positive or are showing COVID-19 symptoms. Sick staff members should not return to work until the criteria to discontinue home isolation are met, in consultation with healthcare providers and state and local health departments. Staff who have recently had close contact with a person with COVID-19 should also stay home and monitor their health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations sick people should follow.
- Send home staff experiencing symptoms during work hours.
- Assign vulnerable workers alternate duties that minimize their contact with children, families, and other employees, if possible.
- Make available and ensure the use of cloth face coverings per CDC recommendations. Vehicle operators should wear a cloth face covering only if it will not interfere with safe driving. Cloth face coverings should not be placed on children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- Make available and ensure the use of hand hygiene supplies per CDC recommendations.
Key times to clean hands:
- Before and after eating, preparing, or handling food and drinks
- After using the toilet
- After coming in contact with bodily fluid
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling garbage
- Before and after work shifts and breaks
- After touching frequently touched surfaces, such as handrails
- After putting on, touching, or removing cloth face coverings
Use of Head Start Vehicles During Periods of Service Interruption
Based on public health guidance, programs may temporarily stop regular program operations, including center-based, family child care, and home-based services. During this time, to the extent possible, employees should continue to engage families and deliver critical services remotely. Programs should continue to provide children with supplies they would receive normally through the program, such as diapers, formula, snacks, meals, and learning supplies.
When programs use agency vehicles to transport food and supplies, they should:
- Minimize contact between vehicle operators and other staff, children, and families as they load and deliver supplies.
- Make available and ensure the use of cloth face coverings and hand hygiene supplies, as described above. Ensure staff maintain at least 6 feet (about two adult arms' length) between each other and families receiving supplies.
Use of Head Start Vehicles to Provide Transportation Services for Children
For programs that are currently operating:
- Minimize contact between vehicle operators and other staff. If possible, stay at least 6 feet from other people.
- Make available and ensure the use of cloth face coverings and hand hygiene supplies as described above.
- Conduct a health check of all children and staff before they board the vehicle. Do not transport individuals with a fever of 100.4ºF (38ºC) or above or who show other signs of illness. Do not transport individuals who have been in close contact (within 6 feet) of someone who has tested positive for, or is showing symptoms of, COVID-19. Consider training and equipping bus monitors to use a non-contact thermometer.
- Position children as far apart as possible, preferably 6 feet apart, with one child per bench and no consecutive rows. If children are coming from the same home, they may sit together. If possible, ensure children sit 6 feet away from the vehicle operator.
- Reroute or stagger bus runs, as needed, to keep group size small and minimize potential exposure between children.
- If possible, keep class groups together on bus runs to minimize potential exposure between different groups of children.
- Use visible cues, such as stickers on the floors, to guide children and offer gentle prompts to help them understand the new protocols. Remember that young children do not understand the need for physical distancing. They rely on adults for their safety and care.
- Vehicle operators should avoid touching surfaces often touched by bus passengers, to the extent possible. Staff should use gloves if touching surfaces contaminated by body fluids.
Programs should check state and local health department notices daily about COVID-19 transmission and mitigation levels in the area and adjust operations accordingly. As community conditions continue to change, some programs may need to adjust their program operations and services.
Based on local data and guidance or directives, programs should be prepared to stagger routes, reduce bus runs, or end bus runs temporarily. Programs should engage staff and families when making changes to transportation policies.
Clean Vehicles Between Each Use
Programs should clean and disinfect vehicles between each use pursuant to CDC's recommended process using products that are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19. Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces. Ensure safe and correct use of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing products securely away from children. Cleaning products should not be used near children. Staff should ensure there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent children or themselves from inhaling toxic vapors.
- For hard and non-porous surfaces inside the vehicle (e.g., hard seats, arm rests, door handles, light and air controls, doors, windows), clean with detergent or soap and water if the surfaces are visibly dirty, prior to disinfectant application.
- For seatbelts, and other child safety restraints, programs must employ methods and products that are effective on COVID-19 and safe for use with the restraint system, particularly seatbelt webbing. Chlorine- or ammonia-based solutions may cause deterioration of safety restraint components and cannot be used. For cleaning guidelines, consult the vehicle or restraint system manufacturer.
- For soft or porous surfaces (e.g., fabric seats), remove any visible contamination and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces.
Refer to the CDC for additional information, particularly:
- Interim Guidance for Administrators of US K–12 Schools and Child Care Programs
- Guidance for Child Care Programs That Remain Open
- Child Care Decision Tool
- Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes
- What Bus Transit Operators Need to Know About COVID-19
Please stay in touch with your program specialist as you plan and provide program services.
Thank you for your work on behalf of children and families.
Dr. Deborah Bergeron
- Office of Head Start
- Office of Early Childhood Development
April 14, 2020
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act 2020 has $750 million available for Head Start and Early Head Start agencies for supplemental summer programs and one-time activities in response to COVID-19. As a result of the CARES Act, $500 million will fund high-quality summer learning experiences that promote school readiness and successful transition to kindergarten. For one-time COVID-19 response activities, $250 million is available for such activities as mental health services, crisis response, and staff training and professional development on infectious disease management. Applications are due by May 15, 2020.
March 31, 2020
The Office of Head Start (OHS) has received many questions from grantees seeking approval for local decisions about operations. OHS general guidance is reprinted below, and are also posted and being updated regularly.
Notification of Enforcement Discretion for telehealth remote communications during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency
March 23, 2020
During this nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies. Some of these technologies, and the manner in which they are used by HIPAA covered health care providers, may not fully comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Rules.
March 6, 2020
Closure of centers in areas heavily impacted by COVID-19 is an important element of containing and limiting its spread. In recognition of the unique circumstances associated with COVID-19, OHS is directing programs to continue to pay wages and provide benefits for staff unable to report to work during center closures necessary to address COVID-19. During center closures, employees should continue to engage families and to deliver services to the extent possible, remotely. This flexibility remains in effect through April 30, 2020 unless further extended by OHS.
The ACF promotes the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals and communities. Its website provides COVID-19-related resources related to early childhood development, child care, child welfare, and community services, among other topics.
Center for Medicaid Services
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for State Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) Agencies
April 2, 2020
This 34-page document answers questions about Medicaid and CHIP ranging from emergency preparedness to flexibilities in eligibility and enrollment, benefits, cost-sharing, managed care and health information exchange.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Guidance for Child Care Providers and Schools
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released two new resources that provide information to help child care professionals protect children, their families, and staff and slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep children healthy. Guidance for Operating Child Care Programs during COVID-19 and Toolkits for Child Care Programs provide updated and additional information on vaccinations, signs and symptoms of COVID-19 in children and support for children with disabilities and special health care needs. The resources align with the CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation, and are intended for all types of child care programs, including child care centers, family child care homes, and other child care programs.
Guidance for Direct Service Providers, Caregivers, Parents, and People with Developmental and Behavioral Disorders
This page includes information on helping different audiences think through needed accommodations, modifications, and assistance for the people they serve who have developmental and behavioral disorders. Guidance includes continuing developmental monitoring and screening during COVID-19 as well as assisting parents in supporting their children's distance learning.
This page showcases two Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs that are providing essential services for children who are deaf and hard of hearing to achieve their full potential in language, cognitive, and social development during COVID-19.
See also: COVID-19 in ASL
This page highlights factors that influence the health of disproportionally vulnerable racial and ethnic minority groups. They are living conditions, work circumstances, and underlying health conditions, and lower access to care. Options to mitigate these circumstances are offered from federal, community, healthcare and public health perspectives.
Additional Resources from the CDC
- Operating Schools During COVID-19
- Frequently Asked Questions and Answers: Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19)
- Child Care and Preschool Pandemic Influenza Planning Checklist
Resources for Small Businesses
April 29, 2020
This document from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) includes information on helping child care programs understand and navigate small business loan options specific to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL).
April 27, 2020
The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship developed this FAQ on small business supports via the CARES Act including the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans, Small Business Debt Relief Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Injury Grants, Small Business Counseling, Contracting, and Tax Provisions.
April 1, 2020
This U.S. Chamber of Commerce guide helps small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan. It answers the following questions for borrowers: am I eligible, what are lenders looking for, how much can be borrowed and will the loan be forgiven?
Remote Service Delivery and Distance Learning in response to COVID-19
A number of states are providing remote service delivery as an alternate and effective way to serve young children with developmental delays and disabilities at home with their families, especially during the COVID-19 public health emergency. We have compiled information for state's early intervention Part C and early childhood special education IDEA Part B Section 619 programs– including technology and privacy, reimbursement, provider and educator use of technology, family resources, state guidance and resources, and research.
Many assessment practices can be successfully implemented even when the practitioner cannot be in the same room with the child and family such as during the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources included here are designed to help states, programs, and local practitioners examine and answer difficult questions about remote screening, evaluation, and assessment.
This series shares the experiences of practitioners and families from across the country, illustrating how the fields of early education and early childhood special education are successfully supporting preschoolers and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
OCR Short Webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility
This webinar reminds decisionmakers of their responsibility in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities, unless equally effective alternate access is provided. Online learning tools must also be compatible with the various forms of assistive technology that students might use.
More on Remote Service Delivery and Distance Learning
- Notification of Enforcement Discretion for telehealth remote communications during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency (HHS)
- COS Completion When Teams Can't Meet in Person (ECTA Center, DaSy Center)
- COVID-19 Resources (ECPC)
- Telehealth in Physical Therapy in Light of COVID-19 (APTA)
- Telepractice Services and Coronavirus/COVID-19 and Telepractice Resources During COVID-19 (ASHA)
- Use of telehealth in early intervention (IDEA Part C): Resources to consider during the COVID-19 public health emergency (Public Consulting Group)
- Planning for the Use of Video Conferencing for Early Intervention Home Visits during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Larry Edelman)
- Planning for the Use of Video Conferencing for Preschool Special Education and Early Care and Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Larry Edelman)
The following organizations are maintaining their own sets of resources for policymakers and educators:
Alliance for Early Success (AES)
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
- EDHI Express, May-June 2020 (includes Guidance from the American Academy of Pediatrics on Newborn Screening During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic)
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA)
Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE)
- Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Webinar
- Novel Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) Considerations for Special Education Administrators
Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
Early Childhood Learning and Knowledge Center (ECLKC)
Education Commission of the States (ECS)
- COVID-19 Update: State Policy Responses and Other Executive Actions to the Coronavirus in Public Schools
National Deaf Center (NDC)
National Conference of State Legislatures
National Governors Association (NGA)
National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER)
- Resources for Early Childhood Policymakers on Preventing and Preparing for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- China ECE Policy Response to COVID-19