MDE COVID-19 Guidance to Districts as of April 2, 2020

Covid-19 Updates for Districts

Do You Have Questions for MDE? 
Please check the 
MDE COVID-19 Information webpage before emailing your questions to MDE staff. We regularly add guidance, answers to questions and links to our daily update email. Daily updates are posted in the Administrator News section of the EdUpdate. 

Gov. Reeves Issues Shelter-in-Place Order until April 20 
On April 1, Gov. Tate Reeves issued Executive Order 1466 directing Mississippians to shelter in place and non-essential businesses to cease. The order directed “Essential Business or Operations to Remain Open.” The shelter-in-place order begins at 5 p.m. Friday, April 3, and ends at 8 a.m. Monday, April 20.  

School Meal Programs
Executive Order 1466 references the previously released Executive Order 1463, which defines essential businesses/operations. Executive Order 1463 specifically names the preparation and delivery of school meals as an essential function. Further, Executive Order 1466 allows for meals to be served by drive through, curbside or delivery methods, which have been implemented by Mississippi schools. With this in mind, school meal programs should remain open whenever possible to aid the community during this emergency.

Mississippi has a high percentage of students who are eligible for Free or Reduced meals and rely on the nourishment provided by school nutrition programs. We strongly encourage each of you to continue to provide this essential service to a vulnerable population, Mississippi’s children. We understand there are concerns about protecting staff and anxiety that schools might be a source of spreading the virus. We recommend that you to discuss any concerns with the Mississippi State Department of Health, especially if considering closing sites. The MDE understands these are difficult decisions for local district superintendents and will defer to their judgment regarding school meal programs.

Making Connections Conference and 2nd Annual Literacy and Learning Summit Postponed
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Making Connections Conference and the 2nd Annual Literacy and Learning Summit have been postponed until 2021. The events were scheduled to take place June 2-5, 2020. The MDE Office of Elementary Education and Reading and the Office of Special Education will make every effort to keep all attendees informed of any updates regarding the Literacy and Learning Summit.  

If you have any questions, please email  or contact S-RESA at The MDE values the health and safety of everyone during this unprecedented time. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your flexibility and continued support. 

FERPA Resource from U.S. Department of Education 
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has posted a webinar addressing common questions about FERPA and best practices for privacy and security under the current circumstances. The presentation and other student privacy resources are available at the ED website, 

Mississippi Department of Mental Health Resources

This is a stressful time for many, including the adolescents in our lives. Feeling anxiety or depression is a common reaction in times of uncertainty, and the COVID-19 pandemic certainly qualifies as such a time. This is something new that we are all facing together. Please use and share the resources below with parents, educators, and administrators to support yourself, adolescents who you work with or encounter, and those around you who might be feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed:

  • Mississippi recently launched Mental Health Mississippi, a website created to help you easily access mental health services for children and adults in Mississippi. You can search for services and resources in your local area. Visit the site to also find COVID-19 resources such as Mobile Crisis Response TeamsCrisis Lifelines, and the DMH Helpline, all of which are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to help.
  • You can also contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “Home” to 741741 to text with a Crisis Text Line counselor. These helplines are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to all ages.
  • The uncertainty of this pandemic can lead to overwhelming feelings of anxiety or depression in children and adults. Mental Health First Aid has provided some guidance in the articles linked below:

Finally, isolation from friends and family, job loss and death are challenges we’re all facing during these days of COVID-19. You are not alone. COVID-19 is affecting families across the world. We encourage you to stay connected with your loved ones while practicing physical distancing. It’s important that you support one other during this difficult time, especially if your loved one may be facing a mental health concern. If you or someone you know feels overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or like you want to harm yourself or others call 911. 

Remember that you are not alone. If the Mississippi Department of Mental Health can help support you, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1-877-210-8513.  Continue to practice social distancing and be safe.  

MDE Webinars: Review of State Board of Education Actions 
The MDE will host two webinars on Friday, April 3, 2020, to review the State Board of Education actions taken on March 26, 2020, related to assessment, accountability, graduation requirements, course grades and licensure requirements.

The format of the webinars will be similar to the March 26 SBE meeting, which is currently available onlineIn addition to an overview of SBE actions, MDE staff will address questions submitted in advance.    

District staff should view the meeting March 26 SBE meeting and review board items prior to sending questions to the MDE. Questions related to the SBE action can be emailed to prior to 3:00 p.m., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Questions will be posted to the Guidance and FAQ section of the MDE website, online at