MDE Update: COVID-19 Guidance to Districts as of March 19, 2020

Covid-19 Updates for Districts

Gov. Tate Reeves Issues Executive Order Closing Schools Through April 17, 2020

Gov. Tate Reeves issued an Executive Order directing all Mississippi schools to close through April 17, 2020 to curb the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus). He said schools will continue to receive funding, and teachers and school staff will continue to be paid. Gov. Reeves said he will relax end-of-year testing requirements and school accountability measures and give the Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) maximum flexibility to waive rules.

Mississippi State Board of Education Actions
The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted today to suspend all federal and state assessments for the 2019-20 school year and to submit a waiver request to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for exemption of applicable federal requirements. As a result of the suspension of federal and state assessments, districts will retain the accountability grade for the 2020-21 school year that they received in the 2019-20 school year.

Additionally, the SBE affirmed Gov. Tate Reeves’ Executive Order today to close schools statewide through April 17 to contain the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). The SBE voted to allow school districts to forego the requirement of a 180-day school year per state law for school closure due to COVID-19.

We understand that districts have a lot of questions about the policy implications related to the extended school closure. The MDE will evaluate policies and procedures and will make recommendations to the SBE at a special-called virtual meeting set for Thursday, March 26 at 10 a.m. The MDE will provide more information and guidance for districts following the March 26 SBE meeting.

State and federal assessments that are suspended this school year include:

  • Pre-K and Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (post-test)
  • Mississippi Academic Assessment Program (MAAP) and MAAP-Alternate English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science – Grades 3-8 and High School
  • U.S. History
  • ACT for 11th graders
  • English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT)
  • Career Planning and Assessment System (CPAS)

Distance Learning Update 
Districts across the state are taking unique approaches to support student learning during this extended school closure. We have seen many creative and inspiring examples highlighted on social media in recent days, and we want to compile information from districts to share these innovative efforts broadly. We have heard stories of districts meeting student needs via video-conference and online learning, by creating packets for students to pick up during grab-and-go lunch, and by delivering lunches and learning packets via school bus each day.

Please take a few minutes to summarize your district’s approach or provide direct links to resources you have developed for students to use during this time. This information can be emailed directly to Rana Hood at We have also had several superintendents offer advice on how they are moving from face-to-face to distance learning. If you are willing to offer ideas to other districts, please notify Rana.

We recognize that distance learning looks different from district to district, and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. We appreciate your efforts.

Virtual Recruitment Guidance 
The MDE Office of Teaching and Leading created Guidance to School Districts on Hiring and Recruitment During Social Distancing and School Closures to support school districts in recruitment and hiring during social distancing and school closures.

Due to concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic, many districts may experience difficulty with conducting typical recruitment and hiring activities. Recent guidance from the Centers for Disease Control recommends cancelling or postponing events where more than ten persons will gather and where social distancing recommendations cannot be obtained. Districts may want to consider the use of virtual job fairs, virtual job interviews and other virtual recruitment activities while social distancing measures are in place.

Summer Reading Camp RFP
The MDE Office of Elementary Education and Reading, Division of Literacy is seeking competitive written proposals for Kindergarten – 3rd grade literacy support grants for summer reading camps. The Division of Literacy continues to work to make significant gains in student achievement through the activities that support the following State Board of Education (SBE) goals:

  1. To increase reading proficiency for all students; and
  2. To graduate all students to be college and/or career-ready.

Applications will be accepted from Mississippi school districts on behalf of individual schools that serve any configuration of students in grades K-3. There is a limit of two (2) applications per school district. One application per school must be submitted for each school to be considered. Schools who were previously awarded three (3) year grants will not be considered for new grants. Schools previously awarded two (2) year grants are eligible to apply for a one (1) year grant. Schools previously awarded one (1) year grants are eligible to apply for a two (2) year grant. Proposals are due April 15, 2020, at 5:00 p.m.

For more information, please contact Kristen Wynn (

The Waldron Charitable Fund Announces $1M in Grant Opportunities to Support Children
The Waldron Charitable Fund has announced that it will make $1 million in grant funding available to support community organizations serving the critical needs of the nation’s underserved children and the 30 million students who receive free and reduced-price meals. As more and more schools nationwide close in response to concerns about the spread of the COVID-19 virus, this initiative will directly fund those who serve critical health needs (both physical and mental), provide nutritional assistance, and support special education for underserved school children.

To get critical funds to organizations as quickly as possible during this time of crisis, the application window for grant funding will be open until 5 p.m. ET on Friday, March 20, 2020. Grantees must detail their ability to provide critical services quickly and to as many underserved children in their local community as possible while still providing social distance and safety in light of COVID-19. Local community organizations throughout the US that serve children ages 12 and under are welcome to apply. Grants of between $10,000 to $50,000 will be awarded to qualifying 501(c)(3) organizations via the Waldron Charitable Fund. View the news release for more information and instructions on how to apply for funds: