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Focus on Education - November 2020

Focus on Education: CDE's update for legislators

Focus on Education is a monthly newsletter for Colorado legislators on critical issues affecting K-12 education and CDE’s progress implementing state and federal policies.


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School/District Dashboard

CDE is periodically tracking the learning model status of schools and districts across the state. The document was created using publicly available information and will be updated approximately every 2-3 weeks. Some information may not be current if changes are made before the next CDE updates.

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Literacy Grant

The U.S. Department of Education (USDoE) awarded Colorado a $16 million grant to implement the Colorado Comprehensive Literacy Project, which aims to advance literacy skills for children from birth to grade 12 with special emphasis on disadvantaged children, including children living in poverty, English learners and children with disabilities.

The grant will span five years and will provide funding to districts through a competitive grant process.

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RISE Education Fund

Governor Polis announced a new, $32.7 million grant opportunity — the Response, Innovation, and Student Equity (RISE) Education Fund — to help Colorado address the challenges that students are facing due to the economic, social and health impacts of COVID-19. School districts, public schools, public institutions of higher education and other education-related entities can apply for RISE Education awards between $250,000 and $4 million. The funding for this grant comes from federal CARES Act funds dedicated to the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Funds.

To ensure the RISE Education Fund grant opportunity reaches a diversity of communities across the state, Gates Family Foundation is partnering with the Governor’s Office and Gary Community Investments to provide planning and design support to those interested in applying for the second RISE Education Fund deadline of Dec. 19.

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Needs Inventory

CDE and the Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) are partnering on a second needs inventory to update the state’s understanding of current challenges facing schools and districts as they work to sustain and enhance support for students, staff and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about results from the first needs inventory conducted last spring. Results from the second survey will help the department and funders make informed, data-driven decisions. Results should be available in mid-November.

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School Nutrition Waivers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced it will extend the flexibilities to allow free meals to continue to be available to all children throughout the entire 2020-21 school year. These program flexibilities allow school nutrition sponsors to operate a meal service model that best meets their community’s unique needs, while keeping kids and staff safe.

USDA is extending waivers through June 30, 2021, that:

  • Allow Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) meals to be served in all areas and at no cost to families;
  • Permit meals to be served outside of the typically required group settings and meal times;
  • Waive meal pattern requirements, as necessary; and
  • Allow parents and guardians to pick up meals for their children.

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Outbreak Guidance

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) has published updated guidance for COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in child care centers and schools. The update builds on the cases and outbreaks guidance that was released in September and provides information on detecting, reporting and responding to cases of COVID-19 as well as outbreaks of the virus among students and staff.

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COVID-19 Stakeholder Group

The COVID-19 Policy Implications Stakeholder Group gathered input on state assessments, accountability/accreditation and educator effectiveness. Results from the survey will be shared with the entire stakeholder group and taken into consideration when it makes recommendations to the legislature in these areas. 

The next Stakeholder Group meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10 from 1 to 5 p.m. As a reminder, the group is scheduled to provide its findings and any recommendations in early January 2021. View more information on the COVID-19 Policy Implications Stakeholder Group.

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