No. The 2020 – 2021 school calendar must still reflect 180 instructional days.
Update: On August 27, 2020, the SBE voted to allow all school districts to operate for less than 180 days by providing a ten (10) day waiver in accordance with Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-63(2). Any reduction of school days must be related to COVID-19 in order for this waiver to apply. School districts may not reduce the school calendar at the end of the school year, if the ten (10) days are not utilized for COVID related calendar adjustments during the 2020 – 2021 school year. (Updated 9.22.2020)
- Can districts who were not listed or not targeted by the Governor to waive days be penalized for waiving the ten (10) days at the end of the year if they started early August?
Yes. Although all districts may waive up to (ten) 10 calendar days, each day must be COVID related. The districts cannot eliminate days from the school calendar at the end of the year. Refer to SBE Action from the August 27, 2020 meeting. (9.22.2020)
- Can the 10-day waiver be used by an individual school in case a school must be closed and not the whole district or is it for districts only?
Yes. The waiver applies to school and district calendars. (9.22.2020)
- Do virtual learning days count toward the 180-day (170-day) requirement for districts on a hybrid schedule?
Yes. The intent of SBE Policy Chapter 9, Rule 9.2 is to provide districts with the flexibility that will allow traditional, hybrid, and virtual schedules. All schedules require a minimum of 240 minutes of instruction/assignments per day. (9.22.2020)
- How do districts request approval for the ten (10) day exemption granted by the State Board of Education?
Districts are not required to request approval from the MDE. The SBE has granted the 10-day COVID-related waiver to all districts. However, the district must maintain documentation that each day the school calendar was altered is COVID related. District must ensure that the school calendars are reported accurately in MSIS. (9.22.2020)
No. The minimum amount of time required for each instructional day for the 2020 – 2021 school year is 240 minutes.
No. The minimal instructional requirements exclude in-class breakfast, lunch, and recess.
Yes, Physical Education remains a required course, and it may be delivered via the face-to-face, hybrid, or virtual model.
- What does “direct instruction” include?
Direct instruction is the act or process in which a teacher is actually guiding (instructing) students toward achieving specific learning objectives. As a result of COVID-19, staff time spent on activities necessary to deliver instruction via different learning modes (hybrid, remote, one-on-one virtual) may be considered direct instruction as a part of the teacher workday.
- Must a student be in attendance for 63% of the instructional day (minimum of 240 minutes for the 2020 – 2021 school year) to be reported as present?
Yes. The SBE did not suspend the requirement for a student to be in attendance for 63% of the individual student’s required daily instructional time to meet the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) definition for funding. If the local district policy allows for an early release for seniors and enrollment in only those courses needed for graduation, the senior will not be required to meet the minimum of 240 minutes of instruction per day. Districts should refer to their local board policy for any local requirements for early release of seniors of the class of 2021. (Updated 9.22.2020).
- For online mode, do schools post instruction/assignments that will take 240 minutes each day and consider daily submission of that work to calculate attendance?
- How do schools measure 240 minutes (4 hours) of instruction?
Depending on the mode of delivery, instructional time may be tracked through a traditional approach, through completion of daily assignments determined to take 240 minutes, or through engagement measures such as LMS metadata regarding software access, assignment completion, or participation. Please see State Board Policy 9.2 for details on reporting for each mode. (7.30.2020)
- Does the 240 minutes need to be broken down by individual subject at the elementary level?
Yes. The instructional minutes must be provided for each individual subject. (9.22.2020)
- If a student does not complete all work but completes 63% of the work can the student be counted present?
Follow the local district policy regarding attendance. (9.22.2020)
- Grades 7-12 take attendance period by period not for the day like grades K-6. How do we address this with the 63% rule?
The student must be present for 63% of the class period to be counted present. For example, if the class period is 55 minutes, the student must be present for 35 minutes to be counted present for ADA purposes. (9.22.2020)
- If the school is using the traditional model and attends more than 240 minutes per day, do they have to use the actual minutes attended or can they use 240 minutes for determining absent or present?
Two hundred forty (240) minutes is the minimum instructional requirement for the 2020 – 2021 school year. Districts will not be cited by the MDE if they meet the 240-minute minimum instructional time. (9.22.2020)
- For ADA purposes, can a student be marked as present if it is determined by the district that 151 minutes of work has been completed?
Yes, 151 minutes of instruction is 63% of the minimum 240 minutes of instruction required per day. (9.22.2020)
- For students receiving instruction via packets, does the policy require both contact with the student and proof of 240 minutes of work?
Yes. The policy requires contact with the student and evidence of completion of 240 minutes of instruction/assignments per day. Contact frequency (daily/weekly) is based on local board policy. (9.22.2020)
- If a student shows up every day for face-to-face instruction but does not complete assignments, is the student counted as present?
Yes, the student should be counted as present. The consequence for lack of completion of the assignment(s) is determined by the district's grading policy. (9.22.2020)
- Do districts on an A/B schedule for virtual learning meet the 240 minutes requirement?
Yes. An A/B schedule consisting of a minimum of 240 minutes of instruction per day meets the virtual learning requirements. (9.22.2020)
- If we instruct for 1 hour and 15 minutes per day, 4 days a week, does this meet the qualifications for the 240 minutes since 240 x 5 = 1200?
No. The minimum requirement of 240 minutes of instruction is per day. (9.22.2020)
1. How will students who are receiving virtual instruction be included in the accountability system?
Students who participate in a district-provided virtual learning option will be coded to the physical campus that they would have been assigned to had they attended the physical location. Students who participate virtually will be included in the accountability system in the same manner as students who participate in the traditional (in-person) or hybrid learning environments. Districts will not be allowed to establish school codes for students participating in virtual learning only. (Edited 9.22.2020)
2. Will students who are participating in 100% virtual learning be allowed to take state assessments at home?
Students will be required to take the state and federal mandated assessments at school. Kindergarten Readiness is the only assessment that can be administered remotely. (9.28.2020)
Yes. For example, a high school program that schedules synchronous instruction for 120 minutes in the morning, then released students to work independently for several hours before a second scheduled synchronous session totaling 120 minutes in the afternoon would meet the daily instructional minute requirement.
No, at-home, parent-led instructional time will not count towards overall minute requirements under the synchronous online instruction method. Under the synchronous online instruction method, two-way, real-time, face-to-face, or virtual remote interaction between teachers and students is required to meet the instructional minute requirements. This may also include student-to-student sessions if supervised by a teacher who is facilitating the session live.
No. In the asynchronous online instructional method, student engagement is measured daily, and attendance is assigned based on the student’s completion of that day’s engagement measure. Students who do not complete the daily measure of engagement are to be counted absent for that day, and that absence cannot be changed to present if the student completes the engagement measure on a later date. In the example above, the student would be counted absent on Monday.
No. In the asynchronous online instructional method, student engagement is measured daily, and attendance is assigned based on the student’s completion of that day’s engagement measure. Students who do not complete the daily measure of engagement are to be counted absent for that day, and that absence cannot be changed to present if the student completes the engagement measure on a later date. In the example above, the student would be counted absent Tuesday through Friday.
No, the required minutes do not need to be provided as one continuous block of teacher-led instruction. Students should have age-appropriate opportunities for breaks during the instructional day, and blocks of instructional time should consist of teacher-guided, but student driven, learning time. The instructional time could include students applying the lesson taught by the teacher through various avenues as if the student was in a classroom setting. An example of this would be the teacher leading a lesson in Zoom for 20 minutes and then the students logging into an online learning application to work on an activity with the teacher actively monitoring progress and providing real-time feedback to the students.
Yes. Permitting students to switch between modes throughout the school year is a local district decision based on local board policy and/or outlined in the district’s board-approved reopening plan.
Yes, plans may vary within the district. However, the LEA must submit only one (1) plan for the district which shall incorporate any differentiation by school or grades.
Measurement frequency is daily. Under a learning plan, students earn daily attendance through daily engagement measure(s). The approved engagement methods are listed below:
- Daily progress in the Learning Management System (LMS), as defined in the learning plan; or
- Daily progress via teacher-student interactions, as defined in the learning plan; or
- Completion/Turn-in of assignments from student to teacher (potentially via email, on-line, or mail).
Student engagement with the LMS or other instructional avenues and/or any daily contact by the teacher with a student focused on supporting or monitoring student academic progress, as defined by the asynchronous instructional plan, will establish daily attendance. A student will be considered absent if the student does not have documented engagement with the LMS and/or daily contact with the teacher, and/or documentation of completion/turn in of daily assignments. The school or LEA designee will input the student’s daily attendance into the Student Information System (SIS) for the asynchronous method, based on the student’s daily engagement with the LMS or other instructional avenue and/or the daily contact with the teacher, by recording the student present or absent on that day. If the LEA has an asynchronous online plan with students participating in both synchronous and asynchronous classes, the student’s attendance recorded by the teacher in the synchronous class can count for official attendance for funding purposes. A student who misses the synchronous class can still be counted present for the day by engaging with the teacher or progressing in the LMS during that same day. (7.30.2020)
All reporting requirements outlined in State Board Policy Chapter 9, Rule 9.2 are required. (7.30.2020)
- What is the difference between asynchronous Offline Digital and asynchronous offline packet?
An example of offline packets would be for those students who do not have devices and the district is providing packets. Offline digital would be for students who may have a device but do not have access to online services. For example, the student may come to the school and download materials to their devices and work on the material on the device but not online. A flash-drive that contains materials may also be provided to a student to use at home on their device, but offline. (9.22.2020)
- The district's plan is to have students check in daily via phone, response to google classroom, or a school level text message. Does the attendance document require that they "check in" to be counted present on a daily basis under both offline models?
These models only require weekly check-ins (weekly interactions). However, districts may require daily check-ins (daily interactions) if the district chooses. (9.22.2020)
- For Asynchronous Mode, weekly interactions (one-on-one or in groups) are required. Is this a requirement for every teacher on the student's schedule to meet with all of them once a week or can the students meet with only their homeroom teacher weekly? Or would it be possible to rotate teachers on a weekly basis?
Yes. The teacher of record is responsible for interacting with the students enrolled in the course. (9.22.2020)
- If students are working offline and uploading work once per week, how will LEAs provide weekly metadata?
The requirement for reporting automated metadata to MDE via LMS is monthly, not weekly in accordance with State Board Policy Chapter 9, Rule 9.2. The districts’ LMS vendor should provide guidance on generating the reports the districts will need for documenting attendance. Alternatively, the District’s technology department may generate a list of students who log into the district’s network to verify data submitted. Teachers shall also report to the school the students who are and are not completing assignments. (9.22.2020)
- If an LEA has both asynchronous online and offline modes of instruction, would the LEA report differently, one with metadata and the other by assignments turned in during weekly face-to-face meetings?
No. The reporting requirements for both asynchronous online and offline modes of instruction are through automated metadata reported to MDE via LMS monthly. There are two (2) required elements: (1) Enter in MSIS the school calendar information regarding the days attendance is taken and frequency (daily or weekly); and (2) Report the students’ attendance information consistently regardless of the mode of instruction. (9.22.2020)
Daily vs. Weekly Attendance
- The document mentions reporting attendance weekly - how is that done?
Follow local district policy regarding attendance. At a maximum, attendance must be entered weekly, but it will be entered in the district’s local SIS for each day taught. (9.22.2020)
- How do we mark attendance that is taken on a weekly basis for "Virtual" classes?
Follow local district policy regarding attendance for virtual classes. At a maximum, attendance must be entered weekly.
Example: the local district policy may state if a student logs into the system the student is counted present. The district may obtain a report from the local LMS vendor that contains student login history. (9.22.2020)
Truancy laws will apply to students who fail to attend school based on the LEA’s option of traditional, hybrid, or virtual scheduling, or any combination thereof. No waiver has been granted for the 2020 – 2021 school year for Miss. Code Ann. § 37-13-91 and Process Standard 10 of the current edition of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards related to Compulsory School Attendance.
- Can you give an example of "evidence of implementation of reporting in SIS and MSIS in accordance with local policies"?
Implementation means the district reports attendance in SIS and MSIS in accordance with the local district attendance policy and State Board Policy Chapter 9, Rule 9.2. (9.22.2020)
- Is attendance based on work completion only?
This will be based on local board policy, instructional mode, and local LMS/SIS capabilities. (9.22.2020)
- Will districts have to provide documentation of attendance for virtual students beginning from the first day of school?
Yes. LEAs must develop and implement a process for tracking attendance and participation for virtual students beginning the first day of the 2020- 2021 school year. (9.22.2020)
- Can a Google Form be created and sent to parents/students to verify participation for offline students?
It is a local district decision to have parent sign a participation form. However, this will not serve as official attendance documentation and will not be accepted during an MDE audit. (9.22.2020)
- What documents should the LEA have on file to prove a packet student was present for an MDE audit as well as for an OSA audit? How long should we keep that documentation?
Refer to slide 26 for documentation. Documentation should be retained for a minimum of five (5) years after the conclusion of the 2020 - 2021 school year for MDE audit purposes. This is consistent with federal regulations for maintaining documentation. The MDE does not determine timelines for documentation for OSA audits. (9.22.2020)
There will not be a different code assigned in MSIS for these students to be marked present. Although the statute does not specifically state to mark the student as present, the only way to ensure the LEA receives the funding credit is to count the student as “present” on days when the schedules do not align with the LEA schedule. (7.30.2020)
Excused vs. Unexcused Absences
1. Do districts need to report COVID-19 cases as excused or do they need to add a code to track COVID-19 cases? If so, should that code be used for quarantines too or use an additional code for quarantines?
Districts should refer to their local board policy for Excused vs. Non-excused absence.
Districts may count students as present (positive and/or quarantined) if the student is participating virtually, attending all classes, and completing work assignments. Proof of attendance and completed work assignments constitute documentation. Positive cases and/or quarantined students require a doctor's excuse if the student is counted as absent because they are unable to do the work in order for it to be counted as an excused absence. This applies to traditional, hybrid and virtual students.
If a quarantined student does not switch to a virtual mode or communicate with the teacher for assignments during their quarantine, the absence would be unexcused based on local board policy and MS Compulsory School Attendance Law.
If students who are participating in virtual learning are ill and cannot complete their 240 minutes of instruction per day, doctor’s excuses may be accepted to excuse the missed instructional time and allow the student to make-up missed assignments. Local district policies must address the process/timeline for students to make up the assignments missed during the excused absence. (9.22.2020)
2. Are handwritten excuses accepted from a parent if the student was sick if they are either virtual or attending face to face?
No. Local district policy should require a doctor's excuse in order for an absence to be excused, not a note from the parent. (9.22.2020)
While grade policies are a local district decision, districts should exercise caution regarding use of pass/fail grades for graduating seniors, as student eligibility for NCAA athletics may be impacted. More information is available through this .
Additionally, beginning in the 2020 – 2021 school year, Business Rule 9.2.2 of the Mississippi Statewide Accountability System requires schools to enter non-weighted course grades for dual credit courses in MSIS. These non-weighted grades will be used in the performance measure for dual credit courses.
While LEAs have the authority to determine local grading policies, in order for LEAs to receive funding for virtual instruction, grading policies that apply to student work completed through either synchronous or asynchronous online instructional methods in the 2020 – 2021 school year shall be consistent with the LEA’s grading policies for on-campus assignments.
All students who are enrolled in a Mississippi Public School are required to meet the immunization requirements set forth by the Mississippi State Department of Health as outlined in Miss. Code Ann. § 41-23-37. (7.30.2020)
No. The monthly MSIS reporting requirements will remain the same. (7.30.2020)
- How do you indicate in MSIS which students are doing which method? Districts will report the students’ attendance information consistently in MSIS regardless of the mode: traditional, hybrid, or virtual. In the local student information system (SIS), districts must track student attendance in accordance with the definitions and requirements for each mode of instruction. Individual student information is required as documentation in the event the district attendance records are audited. (9.22.2020)
- How do we designate in MSIS which days are counted via which mode for students doing hybrid?
Enter on the school calendar in MSIS what days are traditional, hybrid, or virtual. (9.22.2020)
Recording attendance for students with disabilities shall be applied in the same manner as the requirements for students without disabilities. Should the instructional delivery mode require accommodations (i.e., allowing students to access the LMS and record themselves as present), the district will need to consider individual student need(s) to ensure attendance is taken accurately.
Yes. Teachers must still be provided the planning time required in Process Standard 24 of the current edition Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards. The planning period may be before students arrive on campus, while students are on campus, or after students have left the campus but teacher schedules in MSIS must reflect a planning period.
No. The intent of the MDE in decreasing the minimum amount of instructional time required for students was to allow districts/schools/teachers more flexibility in the delivery of instruction to students, as well as additional time needed for implementation of flexible schedules to allow for altered transportation schedules, health screenings, class transitions, modified food service schedules, and other activities to maximize health and safety of staff and students. Districts are encouraged to schedule in-person instructional days at 330 minutes when possible. Additionally, all teachers are expected to maintain documentation of time and effort (for funding purposes).
- How many minutes are required for teacher planning?
The SBE has not approved a rule suspension for teacher planning time. The requirements of Process Standards 24, 24.1 and 24.2 of the current edition of the Mississippi Public School Accountability Standards remain the same. If the school utilizes a traditional six-period or seven-period day schedule, the instructional planning time provided for secondary teachers is a minimum of 225 minutes per week, exclusive of lunch period. If the school utilizes any form of a modular/block schedule, the instructional planning time provided is a minimum of either 225 minutes per week or an average of 225 minutes per week per instructional cycle, exclusive of lunch period. Instructional planning time for the elementary school teacher is no less than 150 minutes per week, exclusive of lunch period. (9.22.2020)