MDE Update: COVID-19 Guidance to Districts as of March 20, 2020

Covid-19 Updates for Districts

Secretary DeVos Announces Broad Flexibilities for States to Cancel Testing During National Emergency

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced today students impacted by school closures due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can bypass standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. Upon request, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) will grant a waiver to any state that is unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency, providing relief from federally mandated testing requirements for this school year.

The Mississippi State Board of Education (SBE) voted on March 19 to suspend all federal and state assessments for the 2019-20 school year and to submit a waiver request to ED for exemption of those federal requirements.

COVID-19 resources on Special Ed Connection 

School districts have access to Special Ed Connection ( Special Ed Connection is your one-stop shop for guidance, proven strategies and helpful tools you can use every day to obtain clarification of special education requirements and services.  In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Special Ed Connection will be providing guidance and resources that address many of the issues you are facing with regard to how to provide FAPE to students with disabilities during school closures.

Each day the Special Ed Connection team will be posting new resources and guidance, so be sure to log in as often as you are able.  To log in, go to and enter your district’s username and password (both must be entered in lowercase letters only).

Questions for the MDE Office of Special Education

The MDE Office of Special Education (OSE) understands that the past week has been full of changes and that you have many questions as you continue to work to ensure the best possible services are provided to all students. We also understand that if you have questions, chances are, your colleagues have the same questions. In order to answer your questions/concerns as quickly and as efficiently as possible, the OSE will begin utilizing the Special Education Directors listserv to address your questions each evening, beginning Monday, March 23, 2020. To begin, we ask that you email your top three questions/concerns to Sharon Coon ( with the subject line COVID-19 Questions.

OSE will work to answer your questions as quickly as possible. To make sure that we give you accurate information, it may require additional time to answer your questions. Our goal is to provide you with ongoing support and resources as we navigate this uncharted territory together.

Dual Credit Course Online Access

As districts work to support our students with online learning, consideration should be given to provide district laptops to students currently enrolled in dual enrollment/credit courses. Many community colleges are communicating with their local districts about the current semester and would like to ensure students will be able to complete their classes.

College Board Advanced Placement Updates

As schools and communities navigate the unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the health and safety of educators and students are the AP Program’s top priorities. College Board is providing the following resources to support Advanced Placement students:

  • free remote learning resources
  • development of a new at-home testing option

Through our members across the country, we understand the new time constraints on everyone in the education community. These solutions are meant to be as simple and lightweight as possible for both students and teachers — without creating additional burdens for school leaders during this time.

Traditional face-to-face exam administrations will not take place.

Some students may want to take the exam sooner rather than later, while the content is still fresh. Other students may want more time to practice. For each AP subject, there will be 2 different testing dates.

The full exam schedule, specific free-response question types that will be on each AP Exam, and additional testing details will be available by April 3. We’ll also unlock any relevant free-response questions in AP Classroom for digital use so students can access all practice questions of the type that will appear on the exam.

Additional dates and scheduled College Board communications:

  • March 20 – update on AP Central is posted online HERE.
  • March 23 – an update will be sent to students.
  • March 25 – students will have access to free, live AP review lessons, delivered by AP teachers from across the country. These optional, mobile-friendly classes are designed to be used alongside work that may be given by schools.
  • April 3 – the full exam schedule including the specific free-response question types that will comprise each AP exam will be published.
  • April 30 – AP Coordinators should indicate all students eligible for a fee reduction in AP Registration and Ordering (APRO) if they have not already done so.

Please continue to check the AP Updates for Schools Impacted by Coronavirus webpage for ongoing updates and links.

MSIS and OTSS Support

Monthly MSIS Student Data

  • All districts will continue to submit their monthly student data to MSIS.  Because schools are currently closed, OTSS will open the Month 7 Student Data Submission window on March 18 for early submission, but the deadline to complete Month 7 will remain April 10.

MSIS and the District Events Calendar

  • For reporting of any days of closure due the ongoing state of emergency, please use the code “COVID-19”.

OTSS Support

  • If districts have MSIS questions or require MSIS support, please send an email to and please include a contact number.  An OTSS staff member will respond.
  • If districts have SharePoint questions or require SharePoint support (e.g., I cannot log in, I need help uploading a file), please send an email to and please include a contact number. An OTSS staff member will respond.

E-Rate Form 471 Deadline

  • The FCC sent a notification to USAC to extend the Form 471 window until April 29, 2020.  All forms must be submitted by 11:59pm EDT (10:59pm CDT).  This gives you an additional 35 days to submit your Form 471.