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President Signs $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package

1-us-bank-note-47344The aid package the U.S. House passed this afternoon and President Trump has now signed into law includes $13.5 billion in dedicated aid for K-12 schools and billions more for child care and nutrition services.

Among the elements of the bill are:

  • Immediate stimulus checks for most households—up to $1,200 per person and $500 per child
  • $30.7 billion Education Stabilization Fund to help fill expected state budget gaps, provide more dollars for student and school needs, and prevent educator layoffs
  • Expanded unemployment insurance
  • Six-month suspension of federal student loan payments
  • Tens of billions of dollars to help prevent housing insecurity

Click here for more information on the specifics of the bill.

“The bill is not perfect, but it does address many urgent needs of our students, educators, and schools,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García.

The language in the legislation also makes clear that any state or school district receiving money from the stabilization fund “shall to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.”

Mindfulness During Stressful Times

Teaching is stressful under ordinary circumstances, but add a pandemic that closes schools across the nation, and that stress can be overwhelming. Many teachers, with virtually no time and limited professional development, have had to transition from face-to-face instruction to online delivery. In difficult times such as these, it is more important than ever to set aside time to look after yourself.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or highly anxious, you should first know you are not alone. Consider forming or joining an online community of educators, many of whom likely understand what you’re going through and can share coping strategies and teaching ideas. Take time each day to walk outside, prepare the garden for spring, or just sit in the sun. Remember to take long, deep breaths. Take at least three full breaths, counting to five with the inhale, holding your breath for five counts, and exhaling for five counts. Each time you exhale, try to picture the tension in your body as a color and imagine it fading slowly away. This will begin to calm your nervous system. Read more

Updates on Teacher Certification and TEAM: Find Out More in CEA Webinar

The news regarding the coronavirus is changing daily. Teachers are doing all they can to stay safe and keep students engaged during this health crisis, but keeping up with the daily educational developments and changes can be difficult.

Join CEA tomorrow from 3:30 to 4:30p.m. for a webinar—Navigating COVID-19: Stronger Together—to share the latest developments that impact you and your students.

In order to participate, you must pre-register for the free webinar.

Register Now ►

After you pre-register, an email link will be sent to you on Friday afternoon with information about how to participate.

Some of the most recent updates from the State Department of Education involve teacher certification and TEAM. Read more

Teacher Evaluation Requirements Waived; Join CEA Webinar for Latest on Navigating COVID-19

The news regarding the coronavirus is changing daily. Today’s announcement from the State Department of Education is that, effective immediately, all components of the educator evaluation and support plan are waived for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

“I encourage educators to continue collaborative dialogue around teaching and learning as we continue to serve our Connecticut students,” Dr. Shuana K. Tucker, the Department’s chief talent officer, wrote in a letter to superintendents. “Opportunities for professional learning and career development can and should continue to the greatest extent possible.”

With so much in flux, keeping up with the daily educational developments and changes can be difficult.

CEA is here to help you.

On Friday, March 27, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., CEA is hosting a webinar—Navigating COVID-19: Stronger Together—to share the latest developments that impact you and your students. Read more

CEA Guidance for At Home Learning

Every teacher must start with this idea. No one knows how long working at home for teachers and students will last but it could extend to the end of the school year, and we do know that the pressures and expectations of this new paradigm can be overwhelming. That’s why it’s more important than ever to stay healthy and rested:

  • Take regular breaks.
  • Make time to exercise.
  • Keep to a regular sleep schedule.
  • Limit distractions when possible (turn off social media notifications, for example).
  • Set daily and weekly goals.
  • Make time to socialize virtually with family and friends.
  • Limit the time when you can be contacted to ensure you have time to recharge, be with family, and prepare for the next day.
  • Access Employee Assistance Program or other mental healthcare options to help meet any unique challenges.

Links and articles:

Education Week—Here’s How to Prevent Burnout During a School Closure

CNN—How to Work from Home Without Losing Your Sanity

Read more

CT Schools to Remain Closed Until at Least April 20

IMG_20200208_070320In a press conference this afternoon Governor Ned Lamont announced that the earliest Connecticut schools will be allowed to re-open is April 20.

To support students who are out of school for an extended time, the governor said that the state is working to get laptops and internet access for more children.

The Partnership for Connecticut has pledged as many as 60,000 laptops to high school students in Alliance Districts, saying the laptops will be prioritized for students in the most need. The Partnership will work with the state Department of Education and school districts to get the computers in students’ hands as soon as possible. Laptops will belong to districts, which will retain ownership once students return to school.

The governor also said that the state is working with internet service providers to expand WiFi access to families who do not currently have internet access.

U.S. Education Department Suspends Standardized Testing Requirements, Provides Student Loan Relief: College Board Announces SAT and AP Exam Changes

The U.S. Department of Education has waived standardized testing requirements for the current school year for students in elementary school through high school. The department says it will provide relief from federally mandated testing requirements to any state requesting a waiver due to the public health crisis.

“Eliminating standardized testing for the current year is the right decision for students,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “It will allow teachers to focus on end-of-year learning and students’ social and emotional well-being, instead of teaching to the test. Teachers will continue to keep their students safe, engaged, and learning throughout this crisis.”

The action comes just one day after Governor Lamont and Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona requested a waiver to suspend standardized assessments. Cardona said sitting students down to take assessments after an extended absence from school is not the best way to use their time. Read more

Tell Congress to Take Further Action to Give Families Much-Needed Relief

A bill President Trump signed into law yesterday is an important step in the right direction to provide relief during this difficult time, but the education community wants Congress to go further to provide families with immediate financial support and regulatory relief.

The bill signed yesterday makes it easier for students who typically receive school meals to get access to food and extends sick leave and family leave protections to government employees, including public school teachers.

The National Education Association is calling on members of Congress and the Trump administration to implement immediate financial support measures first, along with regulatory relief that students desperately need from the Department of Education. Among the top measures that NEA is advocating: Read more

State Seeking Waiver from Standardized Testing Requirements

 

sbacState Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona has said Governor Lamont asked him to seek a waiver from federal standardized assessment requirements from the U.S. Department of Education.

“We don’t feel that if students are out for an extended period of time, bringing them back to school and sitting them down to take assessments is the best way to use their time,” Cardona said during the governor’s news conference this evening.

Cardona also confirmed that the school year is not cancelled. “We hope to welcome students back, but at this point we are taking precautions and if we have to extend class cancellations we will.”

NEA Recommends Former Vice President Joe Biden for President

Educators have engaged in record numbers in the 2020 presidential campaign and have made it clear they are ready to take this activism and organizing all the way to November.

After yesterday’s primaries in Arizona, Florida, and Illinois, Vice President Joe Biden has 1,180 delegates to Senator Bernie Sanders’ 885.

After much debate and careful consideration, NEA recently decided to endorse Biden in the Democratic primary based on his record of support for public education. Read more