On March 10, 2020, Governor Ned Lamont declared a public health and civil preparedness emergency in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19). This declaration permits the Governor to issue a broad range of orders regarding public health and safety, including the suspension or modification of state law, and remains in effect until September 9, 2020, unless terminated earlier. In the past month, the President of the United States and nearly every other governor in the nation have also declared some form of emergency in response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Since March 10, the Governor has issued thirteen (13) executive orders addressing numerous facets of public and private life, including elementary and secondary education. The following is a brief summary of the executive orders directly impacting public schooling.
Executive Order No. 7 (March 12)
- Prohibits gatherings of 250 people or more through April 30, unless otherwise modified
- Waives the 180-day school year requirement for the 2019-2020 school year for all closed for any period of time due to risks associated with COVID-19
- Permits schools reopening during the spring to remain in session through June 30
Executive Order No. 7B (March 14)
- Permits the Office of Early Childhood to waive statutes, regulations, and other requirements as necessary to maintain sufficient capacity of childcare services, or otherwise respond to the need for childcare
Executive Order No. 7C (March 15)
- Cancels all public school classes from March 17 until March 31, and possibly longer
- Encourages private and nonpublic schools to follow the same cancellation schedule
- Permits the State Department of Education to waive various requirements related to high school graduation and prescribed courses of study
- Permits the State Department of Education to waive various requirements related to educator preparation programs, evaluations, in-services, and certification timelines
- Encourages cooperation between the State Departments of Education, Public Health, and Children and Families, as well as the Office of Early Childhood
Executive Order No. 7D (March 16)
- Prohibits gatherings of 50 or more people through April 30, unless otherwise modified
Executive Order No. 7E (March 17)
- Permits public schools reopening in the spring to close on their normally scheduled end dates, as long as they provide continuing educational opportunities to the greatest extent possible while schools are closed
Executive Order No. 7I (March 21)
- Permits the State Department of Education to waive various requirements related to the Student Data Privacy Act in order for schools to provide online educational opportunities
Executive Order No. 7L (March 24)
- Cancels public school classes through April 20, unless otherwise modified
- Encourages private and other nonpublic schools to follow the same cancellation schedule
Readers should note the that, just as our knowledge of COVID-19 is rapidly changing, so too are the Governor’s executive orders. An executive order issued one day may be superseded by an another order the following day and, as such, readers are encouraged to visit the Governor’s website to read the most recent orders on a given day. Local and regional boards of education are also strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with ongoing guidance documents issued by the United States and State Departments of Education while public schools remain affected by COVID-19.
Attorneys at Berchem Moses PC are available to consult to schools and school districts regarding regular and special education matters in the State of Connecticut, including matters pertaining to the impact of COVID-19 on public schooling. For further information, please contact Attorney Michelle Laubin at [email protected].