Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Challenges to Providing Work-Based Learning during COVID-19

May 7th, 2020

One of the most important components of Career Technical Education (CTE) is work-based learning (WBL). For learners, WBL is an opportunity to learn and gain hands-on, in-the-field work experience in their career pathway. WBL exists on a continuum beginning with career awareness and exploration experiences such as field trips, job shadowing, mentorship and industry engagement. At the end of the continuum, learners begin preparing and training for the workforce through experiences such as internships, apprenticeships and co-ops. Along the way, learners build relationships and develop technical and professional skills necessary to transition into the world of work after they complete their CTE program. 

This spring and summer, however, WBL has ground to a halt for most CTE learners. COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has forced many American businesses to close their doors and, as a result, cancel or indefinitely postpone any WBL programs. Among the challenges facing State CTE Directors, policymakers and on-the-ground practitioners are: 

  1. Industry partners disengaging as they shift focus to cutting costs and long-term planning for a likely recession. 
  2. State and local government suspension of WBL programs. 
  3. Ensuring that any solution to virtual or distance WBL does not exacerbate inequities. 
  4. Knowing where to start. This is virtually unknown territory and many states and local leaders and businesses simply have no idea how to begin delivering WBL virtually or remotely. 

 

Some states and local school districts have been able to provide career awareness and exploration experiences for learners through video platforms. In South Carolina, WBL coordinators are creating virtual tour videos for learners to finish their WBL hours. Learners in Texas; the Kansas City region; Orange County, California and the District of Columbia are encouraging industry engagement by partnering with for-profit companies such as Nepris, a site that connects learners to industry professionals through live industry chats and virtual job tours. The platform, which usually requires a paid membership, is free to all users for a limited time because of the Coronavirus. Other platforms include ConnectED’s “A Day In the Life” YouTube channel. Completely free, learners can gain insight into career opportunities across a variety of industry sectors. Learners can hear from professionals and learn what their daily work entails, how they do their work, and the path they took to accomplish their career goals.  

While career awareness and exploration activities are easier to continue for learners with access to technology, career preparation and training still remains a challenge. Some private technology companies have converted their internship programs into virtual and remote experiences. Tech giant Hewlett-Packard plans to continue its summer internship program virtually for high school and college students in the Sacramento, California region. The company plans to send interns equipment so that they can connect online. However, the option to work virtually is harder to scale to other industry sectors. 

The lack of WBL opportunities during the coronavirus pandemic has significant implications for equity. Many of the go-to alternatives for remote WBL require access to video conferencing software, home computers or mobile devices and reliable internet access. The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted, and exacerbated, the digital divide that disadvantages rural and economically disadvantaged learners. 

Additionally, Black, Latinx and economically disadvantaged learners often have less access to the social capital (professional networks) that White and professional-class learners have. WBL exposes learners to careers and professionals who they otherwise may not have the opportunity to engage with. Research has shown these engagements have the potential to close racial and economic equity gaps and increase the likelihood that economically disadvantaged learners exposed to WBL will work in high-quality, high-paying jobs as adults. By limiting access to meaningful WBL, the Coronavirus could take away a critical opportunity for learners to get a leg up on their careers. 

WBL is a vitally important component of a learner’s education and career trajectory. The Coronavirus presents significant access challenges, but also creates an opportunity for creativity and innovation. In the weeks and months ahead, it will be vitally important for local and state CTE systems and the private and public sector to work collaboratively and push the creative boundaries on what an engaging and formative WBL experience can look like for learners and industry alike. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Navigating CTE During COVID-19: Distance Learning for Nursing

May 6th, 2020

The current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic and its imprint on the world has impacted education and workforce programs throughout the nation. Administrators, educators and learners are faced with new challenges as traditional classroom education has been largely disrupted and quickly replaced with distance learning. Though this may be the first time that many are using digital learning platforms or online educational content delivery, distance learning programs have been utilized for years and can be scaled or replicated during the pandemic.

The healthcare industry has unique challenges in providing high-quality
distance learning to learners since many of the required coursework is hands-on. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, the need for a strong workforce of healthcare professionals was critical, with healthcare being one of the fastest-growing employment sectors in the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has forecasted that between 2018 and 2028, the healthcare workforce
will grow by more than 14 percent. As demographic trends in the U.S. lead to a growing older population, the needs of new health care providers and support professionals will continue to be in high demand. 

Work-based Learning at a Distance 

Work-based learning opportunities and clinical learning requirements are central to many state licensing policies, and a major component of a high-quality Career Technical Education (CTE) program. Virtual clinical simulation technologies offer an alternative opportunity to gain experience with clinical decision-making without requiring learners to be physically present in a clinical setting. This technology can replicate many situations that healthcare professionals would experience by simulating real-world patient interactions and clinical experiences. For instance, learners using this technology through a computer screen or virtual reality (VR) simulator can take a detailed medical history, conduct a virtual physical exam and make clinical decisions in scenarios that would mimic real-life interaction. Additionally, the experiences using these simulators can be standardized, allowing for enhanced ability to examine competency across programs. A  large-scale study on simulation technologies, including virtual simulation conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) found that even in research cohort groups that had 50 percent of their traditional clinical hours substituted by simulation technology, no statistically significant differences were found in nursing licensing exam pass rates.

Competency Based Education and Distance Learning

Competency Based Education (CBE), which awards credit based on proving competency of content and not seat or class time, is also uniquely suited to distance education. As CBE programs are largely self-directed and allow learners to go at their own pace in different environments, they are a unique fit that aligns well with distance learning practices. CBE programs help to ensure quality as course completion is only achieved through demonstrated competencies. As distance learning is expanded, programs based on CBE can offer learners potentially a quicker way to program completion – which translates to a quicker ability to enter the workforce.

Benefits of Offering Distance Learning in Rural Communities

Rural areas face particular challenges and the need for a fully-equipped healthcare workforce. Distance learning presents opportunities for communities that have been historically underserved or have limited options for health sciences education programs in their own communities. Leading states including North Dakota, Idaho, Florida, Lousiana and Nebraska have continued to close access gaps by offering distance learning CTE coursework and opportunities. Some standout examples include: 

  • North Dakota’s Interactive Television program connects learners to remote sites in realtime via video to facilitate distance learning. It’s often used at the postsecondary level to enable students to gain access to coursework they need to earn a certification or degree; 
  • Louisiana launched a multifaceted effort combining technology and hands-on teacher supports to connect rural students with employers; and 
  • Idaho Digital Learning integrates CTE instruction into its online course catalog. Each course is aligned with state standards and facilitated by a certified teacher. 

CTE distance learning presents as a short-term challenge during Coronavirus, however, the work done now can offer long-term solutions to providing each learner in the nation with the opportunity for high-quality CTE.

View the new Distance Learning for Rural Communities Fact Sheet.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate

TAACCCT Legacy for Healthcare Programs

May 4th, 2020

The Trade Associated Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, originally created in 2010, was at the time the largest-ever federal investment in community colleges. TAACCCT awarded grants for community college programs that enhance job-driven skills through innovative workforce development programs, with a focus on creating or updating programs of study to improve the ability of community colleges to provide workers with the education and skills to succeed in high-wage, high-skill occupations.

Between 2011 and 2018, The U.S. Department of Labor made 256 awards through four rounds of competitive grants. Of the 729 postsecondary institutions funded, 630 (85 percent) were community colleges. Of all community colleges in the U.S., approximately two-thirds secured TAACCCT funding to engage in reforms to build capacity to deliver integrated education and workforce training.

Although the grants have run their course, the legacy remains. The programmatic infrastructure created through the TAACCCT program continues today in addressing the education and workforce needs of these local programs. Additionally, new legislation introduced builds on the success of this program for future economic recovery. The Relaunching America’s Workforce Act was introduced in the House of Representatives last Friday and includes proposing $2 billion to restart the TAACCCT grant program.

As communities nationwide are responding to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), the need for training a robust health care workforce has become even more urgent, and healthcare industry programs created as part of TAACCCT can help to offer guidance for future programs. 

On April 16, New America hosted a webinar that explored the role and legacy of TAACCCT created programs and the impact these programs have in continuing to innovate and support building a strong healthcare workforce. 

One of the highlighted TAACCCT grantees includes a consortium program in Missouri called MoHealthWINs. MoHealthWINs created programs that included creating scalable, online and virtual learning platforms to expand access to learners that weren’t previously available. Additionally, enhanced advising helped to ensure learners remained on-track along their career pathway to achieve their goals. One of the most successful components of MoHealthWINs focused on the creation and maintenance of strong relationships with local employers, which helped learners to be prepared with the skills needed in their local community. The success of the program included over 88 percent of attempted credit hours completed, and 75 percent of completers who started as unemployed were able to find employment upon completion.

As the national focus shifts from immediate pandemic response to economic recovery, our nation needs a program like TAACCCT to help to ensure that postsecondary institutions have the resources to create nimble programs that can respond to changing labor needs and equip learners with the skills they need to succeed.

Advance CTE promotes including a TAACCCT-like program as a priority in any next round of stimulus legislation and in our recommendations for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: Congress Introduces Stimulus Bill with $1 Billion for CTE

May 1st, 2020

Today, Congress introduced a bill that would provide $15 billion for workforce development and Career Technical Education (CTE) programs. Read below to learn more about what is in this legislation, as well as information that the U.S. Department of Education provided this week in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus). 

Congress Introduces Stimulus Proposal for Career Technical Education

Today, Chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced the Relaunching America’s Workforce Act as the next Coronavirus stimulus package. This bill focuses on supporting CTE and workforce development programs as a result of the pandemic with a $15 billion investment that includes $1 billion to support CTE programs and activities, as well as $2 billion to re-implement the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program. Advance CTE is pleased to support this bill. 

The legislation includes the following proposals tied to the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V): 

  • Offers flexibility at the state and local levels during the pandemic around retention of funds, so that any funds not used during the 2019-2020 academic year because of Coronavirus can be retained instead of returned to the state for redistribution. 
  • Provides flexibility for local Perkins recipients to pool funds in order to support secondary to postsecondary or employment transitions for CTE students whose academic year was altered due to the pandemic. 
  • Waives some of the professional development requirements during the pandemic. 
  • Authorizes $1 billion for CTE programs and activities, such as digital and physical infrastructure, virtual academic and work-based learning, restocking supplies that were donated to Coronavirus response efforts, work-based learning supports and subsidies for students and employers and ensuring programs are responsive to updated comprehensive needs assessments as a result Coronavirus. 

The bill also addresses activities in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that require new supports due to Coronavirus, including but not limited to: 

  • $2 billion for community college and industry partnership grants by restarting the TAACCCT grant program. 
  • $250 million to support YouthBuild grantees and increase capacity during the pandemic. This would also include flexibilities for use of funds administrative costs, expanded eligibility to those who turned 25 during Coronavirus and increase the length of enrollment during the pandemic. 
  • $350 million for reentry employment opportunities for justice-involved youth, young adults, formerly incarcerated adults and former offenders during and after Coronavirus. 
  • Expanding the eligibility of adult and youth dislocated workers to include those eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Allows all eligible individuals to obtain personalized career services- such as individual employment plans, counseling, career planning and financial literacy training. 
  • Increasing the percent of funds that local workforce boards can use for incumbent worker training to 40 percent. 
  • Providing Governor the ability to reserve an additional 10 percent of funds for areas in their state most impacted by the pandemic. 
  • States must supplement their workforce plans with information about how additional funds will be used for a workforce development strategy that is responsive to the pandemic. 

You can view the press release from Advance CTE and the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) here. You can let your representative know that you support including CTE in the next Coronavirus relief bill by following the quick prompt here. The full bill can be viewed here and a summary of each section here

ED Announces $300 million for New Education Stabilization Fund Grants

This week, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued guidance on implementing the Education Stabilization Fund, a $300.7 million fund included as one percent of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act- the third stimulus package that was signed in response to the pandemic. This funding is divided between two competitive grants that prioritize states with the highest Coronavirus burden.

  • Education Stabilization Fund-Rethink K-12 Education Models Grants (ESF-REM)
    • Supports State Educational Agencies (SEAs) in states with the highest coronavirus burden to address needs for students, their parents and teachers of elementary and secondary schools.
    • A notice inviting applications can be found here.
  • Education Stabilization Fund-Reimagining Workforce Preparation Grants (ESF-RWP) 
    • Provides funding to support states in creating new programs and pathways, including short-term educational opportunities.
    • A description of the program can be viewed here.
    • A notice inviting applications can be found here.

ED Adds Fact Sheet on Repurposing Equipment and Supplies for Coronavirus

Yesterday, the Department issued a fact sheet that clarified the Department’s position of the ability of grantees and subgrantees to donate or repurpose equipment and supplies that were purchased with Federal grant funds to combat the impact of Coronavirus.. The fact sheet says that yes, this is allowed.

Grantees and subgrantees must keep certain records for three years regarding the repurposing or donation made such as itemizing the supplies being repurposed and the source of federal funds used for the purchase. Additional details, rationale and requirements for the decision are included in the fact sheet, for example the specification that the repurposing should only be done for supplies that are “not currently in use to carry out a grant program to meet the general education needs of students.” 

The Department indicated that this is a temporary authority during the Coronavirus national emergency. 

Department Directs Additional Funding to Minority Serving Institutions

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that $1.4 billion of funding will be allocated to Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs) and colleges that serve low-income students. This funding will be used to ensure that students can continue their education during Coronavirus. 

This funding is through the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund authorized in the CARES Act. Funds can be used for distance learning technology, grants for eligible student attendance, faculty and staff training and operational costs.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Navigating CTE during COVID-19: States Must Maintain a Fierce Commitment to Advancing Quality, Access and Equity in CTE During the Pandemic

April 30th, 2020

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic has exacerbated and presented new equity challenges for states. As of mid-April 2020, the majority of Americans in the workforce lost jobs or income during the pandemic, with Latino Americans most likely to have hours or shifts reduced and Black Americans most likely to have been laid off. The pandemic has not only widened racial equity gaps, but it has also illustrated the challenges individuals from low socioeconomic backgrounds face. Nearly two-thirds of leaders in districts where the highest percentages of students are from low-income families reported in late March that students’ lack of technology access is a major challenge to teaching during Coronavirus-related closures, compared to just one in five of leaders in districts with the lowest percentage of students from low-income families.

Career Technical Education (CTE) learners, especially historically marginalized populations, are facing significant challenges to accessing and succeeding in CTE programs during the Coronavirus pandemic. A lack of access to technology and the internet, language and technical supports, wrap-around supports and general accommodations have widened existing equity gaps.

To address some of these challenges, states have leveraged various stop-gap strategies. To attend to the digital divide, some states are equipping buses and parking lots with internet hot spots so that learners can access the Internet, while others are partnering with local organizations to provide computers to students who may not have access to them. Specific to CTE, when appropriate, states are sending home technical equipment and instructing students via virtual platforms so that students may continue to engage in hands-on learning. Additionally, states are developing communities of practices to brainstorm how to effectively deliver learning to students at a distance. 

While the delivery of instruction is top of mind for states, other critical supports must be attended to support the “whole” learner. For example, many schools and colleges are also attending to the critical need of food insecurity by providing meals to students in innovative ways. Mental health supports during this stressful time are also critical and many schools and colleges have been able to shift these supports online, allowing learners to reach out via direct messaging on various social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.   

Now more than ever, states must maintain their fierce commitment to advancing quality, access and equity in CTE. As equity gaps widen and deepen, states must support each learner in accessing, feeling welcome in, fully participating in and successfully completing a high-quality CTE program. 

This is the first in a series of blogs that will map out how state leaders can continue to advance equity, quality and access during the Coronavirus pandemic. To learn more about Advance CTE’s commitment to advancing equity in CTE, click here. To access resources related to equity and the Coronavirus, click here.

Brianna McCain, Policy Associate

Navigating CTE during COVID-19: Best Practices for Distance Learning

April 27th, 2020

As education moves online in response to COVID-19 (Coronavirus), Career Technical Education (CTE) programs are looking for ways to continue supporting learners virtually and offer high-quality educational opportunities. This edition of the CTE Research Review will synthesize some of the research on best practices for delivering distance learning. While these examples predate the pandemic, they can be a guide to CTE programs looking to implement or scale distance learning in response to the Coronavirus. 

A 2010 U.S. Department of Education meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies from 1996-2008 found that distance learning is at least as effective as traditional classroom instruction and most successful for undergraduate and adult learners. Despite being a little dated, the findings from the studies examined likely hold true today. Some best practices identified for distance learning included giving learners an element of control over their learning (such as offering multiple options of learning tools), providing online simulations and building opportunities for individualized instruction and learner reflection.

In 2015, Hanover Research released a report outlining best practices in the development and implementation of high-quality distance learning. Some of the key findings included giving learners the opportunity to collaborate with each other as a means to further learner engagement and ensuring the course platform is easy to use with necessary information such as syllabi, schedules, readings and videos. Additionally, the authors examined the literature of best practices for online instruction specifically at the postsecondary level and cited Penn State’s World Campus’ recommended principles of effective online instruction. The original recommendations in detail are linked here and explain how to effectively engage in online instructing for the following teaching principles: actively engage in online instruction; practice proactive course management strategies; establish patterns of course activities; prepare for potential course interruptions; respond to student inquiries in a timely manner; establish a timely process for returning assignment grades; use the Learning Management System for communication and ensure course quality.  

A 2018 edition of Library Technology Reports focuses on the accessibility of distance learning programs for students with disabilities. Using the University of South Carolina’s Center for Teaching Excellence as a case study, the article identified best practices in online learning and accessibility for students with disabilities. Their recommendations are as follows:

  • “Provide step-by-step instructions for accessing the course and all course materials;
  • Offer multiple formats of materials, including Word and PDF documents;
  • Provide transcripts and closed captioning for all lectures, talks and synchronous or asynchronous interactions with students;
  • Use Sans Serif fonts to increase visibility and accessibility;
  • Use bold to display emphasis rather than color (for students with color blindness); and
  • Maintain ongoing one-on-one and group communication with students and offer accessible opportunities for interaction.”

In addition to these best practices, Advance CTE has compiled resources for distance learning. As the educational environment remains online to flatten the curve of the Coronavirus, these research-based best practices and resources can help guide CTE programs as they continue to provide high-quality learning opportunities. In future blogs we will highlight best practices related to delivering work-based learning and CTE-specific coursework online. 

Brian Robinson, Policy Associate

Legislative Update: Federal Responses to COVID-19

April 24th, 2020

The federal government continued to respond to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) this week. Read below to learn more about the newest stimulus bill, information on K-12 and higher education emergency funding, a new proposal to support students without Internet access and expansion of the Second Chance Pell program. 

Congress Passes New Stimulus Bill

This week a new stimulus bill in response to Coronavirus passed in the House and the Senate, the Paycheck Protection and Health Care Enhancement Act (H.R. 266). The $480 billion package will provide funding to the Paycheck Protection program for small business relief, hospitals and Coronavirus testing efforts. Today, President Donald Trump signed this bill into law. This is the fourth Coronavirus stimulus bill, and pandemic response bills are expected to continue in Congress. 

Department Announces Availability of Emergency K-12 Funding 

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced the availability of $13.2 billion in emergency relief funds through the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief (ESSER) Fund under the Education Stabilization Fund- authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This funding can be used to support immediate K-12 education needs as a result of Coronavirus, such as technology, distance learning and long-term planning and will be distributed to the State Education Agency (SEA). Authorized uses include the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Educational Equity, and the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act.

90 percent of this funding must be allocated by the SEA to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), in proportion to the amount of Fiscal Year 2019 funds the LEA received under Title I-A of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Up to 10 percent of the funding can be used by the SEA for emergency needs. After one year, SEAs must return any funds that have not been awarded, to be reallocated by the Secretary. SEAs can apply for ESSER funding until July 1, 2020 by sending a signed Certification and Agreement to ESSERF@ed.gov. Each request will be processed within three business days of receipt. 

  • State allocations for the ESSER Fund can be found here
  • Additional information on the ESSER Fund can be found here
  • The full statement on this funding from the department can be found here

Department Shares Updates on Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund 

Earlier this week, ED released two documents on the disbursement of the $13 billion in the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) authorized through the CARES Act. 50 percent of this funding must be used to directly support students affected by Coronavirus, and the other 50 percent is allocated to allow supporting institutional expenses.

  • Financial aid grants to students: The Frequently Asked Questions document specifies that only students who are eligible for federal aid under Title IV of the Higher Education Act are able to receive this funding, specifically students who are eligible to file a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)  can access the HEERF grants. The Department’s guidance means that some students- such as recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, those who are enrolled in some short-term and non-credit programs, students with certain criminal records and those without a high school diploma-  are not eligible for these financial aid grants. Advance CTE, in partnership with the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), sent a letter to ED with concerns about these exclusions. 
  • Aid to Institutions of Higher Education: The Department released Frequently Asked Questions  about the use of the other 50 percent of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, the institutional portion (HEERF-IHE). In order to be eligible for HEERF-IHE, the institution of higher education must enter into an agreement for the student portion of HEERF.  The CARES Act specifies that institutions can use the funds received to cover any costs associated with significant changes to the delivery of instruction due to the coronavirus.” This legislative language provides sufficient flexibility to allow authorized institutions of higher education to direct HEERF-IHE resources to Career Technical Education (CTE) and adult education programs.

  • Institutional eligibility and allocations for the HEERF Fund can be found here
  • Additional and guidance on both components of HEERF can be found here
  • CARES HEERF-Student certification and agreement can be found here
  • CARES HEERF-IHE certification and agreement can be found here

House Introduces Emergency Funding Bill for Students without Internet Access 

Earlier this week Representative Grace Meng (D-NY) introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020 (H.R. 6563). This bill proposes $2 billion for an Emergency Connectivity Fund, administered by the Federal Communications Commission’s E-Rate program, for schools and libraries to support the 8.5-12 million K-12 students without Internet access during the Coronavirus pandemic. This funding would support distance learning resources through the E-Rate program, with priority going to student and staff without Internet access or the necessary equipment to access distance learning. Advance CTE, along with over 50 education organizations, is pleased to support this bill.  

Second Chance Pell Program Expands Participation

Today, the U.S. Department of Education announced an expansion of the Second Chance Pell program, which would almost double the amount of schools participating in this pilot program. Originally created in 2015 as part of the Experimental Sites Initiative (ESI), Second Chance Pell allows incarcerated students in selected schools to be eligible to use federal Pell Grants.

Advance CTE supports Pell Grant eligibility for all incarcerated individuals, and this is included in our HEA recommendations and priorities for future Coronavirus stimulus legislation.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

COVID-19 Resource Roundup: Equity

April 22nd, 2020

Advance CTE has compiled a listing of COVID-19 resources for states to refer to as they make state-wide decisions and schools and institutions transition to distance learning.

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources are bucketed into the following categories: General updates, CTE-specific resources, postsecondary, middle grades, distance learning, equity, leadership/managing virtually and emerging innovations.  

Today’s topic focuses on material related to equity in education, especially CTE, during Coronavirus. Follow this blog for future resource roundups.

  • Supplemental Fact Sheet addressing the risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities, U.S. Department of Education
    The Department of Education emphasizes, within the fact sheet, that federal disability law allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. The Department encourages fruitful collaboration between school leaders, the families and the community to strategically come up with an innovative way to continue to meet the needs of students with disabilities.
  • What COVID-19 Means for Incarcerated Students: Isolation, Uncertainty, & a Loss Sense of Humanity, New America
    This resource brings forth questions and concerns about college-in-prison programs. As many colleges and universities have closed their doors and transitioned to online instruction, the incarcerated population seems to be unaccounted for.
  • Coronavirus Equity Considerations, NAACP
    In this resource guide, the NAACP provides aid to community leaders on how to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic with vulnerable populations. National and state leaders can find the resources necessary that link to well-developed policies and practices that are equitable and able to reach all people in all communities.
  • COVID-19 and Homelessness: Strategies for Schools, Early Learning Programs, and Higher Education Institutions, SchoolHouse Connection
    The homeless population has been identified as a vulnerable population due to the Coronavirus. Within this resource, state leaders can find strategies and practices that others have already implemented to best fit the needs of their homeless students. Also, a checklist is provided for school leaders to assess their communication with homeless families and unaccompanied youth.
  • Two New Resources to Support Students with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Crisis, National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD)
    NCLD created these resources based on their belief that distance learning can still provide an equitable learning experience for students with disabilities. The resources are created to encourage policymakers, parents and educators to work together as one to best serve this student population.
  • Free membership and access over 8,000 captioned and described educational videos, The Described and Captioned Media Program (DCMP)
    Families and educators who care for a student with a disability can register for free to access educational videos that are described and captioned for the viewer. There are over 8,000 accessible titles with the registration, however, one can view a public list of titles without registering. Be sure to check out the career education videos!

Advance CTE will continue to update the website with COVID-19 resources. Check the page regularly for frequent updates.

Brittany Cannady, Digital Media Associate

COVID-19 Resources from the U.S. Department of Education: Part Three

April 14th, 2020

dThe U.S. Department of Education added a page to its website with COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources and updates for elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. You can access this information at www.ed.gov/coronavirus. The page will be continuously updated by the Department. Below are brief overviews of what can be found in some of the newest materials. Advance CTE will continue to share posts with a breakdown of the resources, so keep checking the blog!

Education Stabilization Fund Implementation

The recent stimulus legislation, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act)  included more than $30 billion in funding to support K-12 and postsecondary programs and learners affected by Coronavirus. On Monday, the Department released a centralized page of resources related to administering these funds. 

Last week, the Department unveiled guidance on disbursement of the first set of funds to help support postsecondary learners that have been affected by Coronavirus. It is expected that in the coming days and weeks, guidance on other funding provisions of the CARES Act will become available.

Updated Guidance for Interruption of Postsecondary Programs of Study 

The Office of Postsecondary Education updated its COVID-19 FAQ and Guidance for interruption of study related to Coronavirus. This guidance, currently remaining in effect until June 30, 2020 “unless otherwise specified,” includes changes that are being implemented based on provisions in the CARES Act. Some of the new guidance includes:

  • Accommodating students whose enrollment is disrupted by Coronavirus;
  • Distance education – including broad approval and flexibility on implementing new programs, but requiring that instructions and materials meet the requirements of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (IDEA); and
  • Flexibility given in the CARES act for funds and provisions provided by Title IV of the Higher Education Act.

Guidance on Donation or Loan of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Medical Supplies

On Tuesday, the Department released a memo that gives guidance on loaning or donating certain medical supplies or equipment, if that equipment was originally purchased using funds from a Department grant program. The memo indicates that donating PPE or medical supplies to health providers that have been purchased with funds provided by the Department are allowed. Some of the guidance also includes:

  • Direction that grantees can loan or donate PPE (e.g. masks, face shields, gloves), other medical supplies or equipment (e.g, ventilators) or even equipment that can be used to produce these medical supplies, such as 3D printers;
  • The Department will provide grantees and subgrantees a class exception for uses of grant funds, authorized by OMB Memo M-20-20;
  • Requirement that grantees and subgrantees must keep detailed records on donating or loan items and maintain these records for at least three years (page 2);
  • Indication that the Department intends to follow-up with grantees in the future regarding the donations or loans of equipment (page 2); and 
  • Direction that additional questions can be sent to COVID-19@ed.gov.

Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

Legislative Update: New Guidance on CTE and COVID-19, CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Write Letter in Support of CTE Funding

April 10th, 2020

This week, the U.S. Department of Education released new information about Career Technical Education (CTE) implementation during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic. Read below to learn more about what questions the Department has answered, a letter from the Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, the first round of stimulus funding for higher education and a new youth apprenticeship grant opportunity. 

Education Department Shares Information on Perkins V During the Coronavirus Pandemic 

Today, the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE) within the U.S. Department of Education published a set of questions and answers about CTE in relation to the Coronavirus pandemic. This document answers some of the frequently asked questions about local plan requirements, consultation and data under the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (Perkins V). The Department will provide flexibilities to states in regard to the local plans and the comprehensive local needs assessment and locally determined performance levels. OCTAE also reinforces that consultation does not need to happen in-person. Finally, information is provided about submitting performance data. 

The first round of guidance from OCTAE that was published last week and covers Perkins V state plan submissions and local applications can be found here. Additional rounds of questions and answers from OCTAE will be added to https://cte.ed.gov/grants/covid-19-information

The Education Department also provided information earlier this week about grant funding. Per the document, a grantee or subgrantee can continue to pay an employee paid with grant funds from the Department during the time that the employee is unable to work because their place of work is closed as a result of Coronavirus. If there is not a policy in place to address this type of circumstance, the grantee or subgrantee can create an amendment or write a new policy. In addition, grant funds from the Department can be used to reimburse nonrefundable travel or registration costs if a conference, training or other type of activity related to the grant is cancelled due to Coronavirus. Finally, grantees or subgrantees can purchase travel insurance for future travel plans under a grant from the Department. 

Congressional CTE Caucus Co-Chairs Ask for CTE Funding in Stimulus Bill

This week, Co-Chairs of the Congressional CTE Caucus, Representatives Jim Langevin (D-RI) and Glenn ‘GT’ Thompson (R-PA) sent a letter to House leadership asking for the next stimulus bill to include $1 billion for Perkins Basic State Grants. The letter acknowledges the unique challenges that CTE programs face at this time, including interruptions to work-based learning. It also points out that state and local CTE leaders must be responsive to shifting academic strategies as a result of Coronavirus, as well as the changing needs of employers. Representatives Langevin and Thompson highlight the role that CTE students have played during the pandemic, such as donating protective equipment. 

A press release from the Congressmen can be found here

Education Department Announces Stimulus Relief Distribution for Higher Education

On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos released a letter outlining the process for the disbursement of the first round of higher education funds included as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund portion of the act includes $12.46 billion allocated to most institutions of higher education to directly support institutions and students affected by Coronavirus. The CARES Act requires that at least 50 percent of this funding should be used to “provide emergency financial aid grants to students for expenses related to the disruption of campus activities.” These funds can be used for eligible expenses other than tuition, for example food, technology and healthcare. Thursday’s letter addresses the first round of funding that directs more than $6 billion of funds for emergency direct grants to students. Secretary Devos indicated that information on disbursement for the other 50 percent of Higher Education Emergency Relief Funding, to be used for supporting institutions directly, can be expected in the next few weeks.

Additionally, the Department released an institution-by-institution allocation of funds to be awarded from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

Department of Labor Announces New Youth Apprenticeship Grant

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) announced the new Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grant opportunity. $42.5 million is available through this grant for in and out-of-school youth apprentices to participate in new or existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs. ETA will fund 15 to 25 Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants, and each grant will be funded from $1 million to $5 million. The funding amount for each recipient will be based on the number of youth apprentices enrolled in that program. Applications for this grant must be submitted by 4:00pm EDT on May 6, 2020.

Meredith Hills, Policy Associate and Samuel Dunietz, Senior Associate for Federal Policy

 

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