Re: Legislature passes legislation addressing COVID-19
The General Assembly today passed House Bill (HB) 197 in response to the COVID-19 public health crisis. Gov. Mike DeWine is expected to sign the bill into law, which will take immediate effect upon his signature. Our three organizations are holding a free, video webinar on Friday, March 27, at 4 p.m. to discuss the bill and answer questions. We will provide details shortly. In the meantime, click here to read a synopsis of the bill, and click here to read the bill's fiscal note.
The bill makes the following education-related changes:
• eliminates state and federal testing for the 2019-2020 school year;
• prohibits the issuance of report cards for the 2019-2020 school year and provides a one-year safe harbor from sanctions related to the report card;
• freezes EdChoice eligibility at the 2019-2020 list of 517 buildings;
• permits students and their school-aged siblings who attended or would have attended a building on the 2019-2020 eligibility list to receive a voucher;
• waives the third-grade reading guarantee retention requirement;
• permits schools to grant high school diplomas to students on track to graduate and for whom the principal determines that the student has successfully completed the curriculum;
• permits schools not to conduct evaluations of district employees, including teachers, administrators or superintendents, for the 2019-2020 school year if determined impractical or impossible;
• prohibits the use of 2019-2020 value-added data for the purpose of teacher evaluations;
• permits certain state-licensed individuals to provide services electronically or via telehealth communication to students with special needs;
• delays all licensure deadlines so that expiring licenses must be renewed no later than 90 days after the emergency period ends or Dec. 1, 2020, whichever is sooner;
• sets April 28 as the final day of voting for the March 17 primary election and prohibits in-person voting for that election;
• authorizes the tax commissioner to extend school district income tax filing and payment deadlines for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency declaration;
• permits boards of education to use electronic communication for in-person meetings and hearings during the emergency period but not later than Dec. 1, 2020;
• permits the state director of agriculture to exempt school districts from registering as a food processing establishment overseen by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and from paying registration fees;
• permits the issuance of one-year, nonrenewable, provisional educator licenses provided certain conditions are met;
• permits schools to make up through distance learning any number of days or hours necessary to meet minimum instructional hour requirements.
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH, today announced the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has opened a call center to answer questions regarding coronavirus (COVID-19). The call center will be open 7 days a week from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).