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COVID-19 Guidance and Information

COVID-19The Iowa Department of Education (Department) provides guidance and information for Iowa school districts, area education agencies (AEAs), community colleges and other stakeholders in response to an expanding global outbreak of the novel (new) coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. Guidance and information is updated as additional information becomes available.

Note: Documents with an asterisk (*) have been translated and are available on the Translated COVID-19 Guidance and Information Documents webpage.



COVID-19 Guidance: FAQs* (4-14-20) (new topics are in bolded italics) - Addresses advanced placement, after school programming, assessment, board meetings and action, continuous learning, donations, finance, graduation, health and safety, Medicaid, preschool, professional development, school improvement, school lunches and special education. In addition to the new topics, updates have been made addressing assessments, finance, preschool and special education.

Administrator Webinar Recordings

The Iowa Department of Education hosts webinars as needed for PK-12 school administrators in Iowa covering a wide range of education topics related to COVID-19.

ARP Act for PK-12 Schools

(7-23-21) ESSER III and Evidence-Based Interventions

(7-2-21) ESSER III District Plan - Provides the ESSER III district plan content and requirements.

ESSER III State Plan (6-7-21) - Provides Iowa's state plan for its use of ESSER III (also known as ARP ESSER) funds and includes Iowa's mode of instruction data (see Appendix A).

ESSER III State and Local Plan Requirements (5-19-21) - Summarizes the state and local plan requirements to receive the remaining third of ESSER III funds.

Part I of the ESSER III District Plan (5-19-21) - Provides the list of assurances, including acknowledgment of Part II plan requirements, that superintendents must complete by May 21, 2021.

ESSER III Guidance (4-12-21) - Provides a preliminary summary of the ESSER III provision of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act.

Assessment, Accountability and Federal Programs

ESSA Support Site - Provides resources aligned with required and optional school improvement components for schools in Iowa's Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) Plan.

Determining Proficiency for Senior Year Plus Programs (7-14-20) - Provides guidance that outlines alternatives for determining proficiency for purposes of accessing Senior Year Plus programming since performance results from the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress (ISASP) are not available for the 2019-20 school year. The requirement to administer federally required assessments, including the ISASP, was waived for the 2019-20 school year in light of Covid-19-related school closures.

2020-21 Early Literacy Implementation (ELI) Guidance (7-9-20) - Provides guidance that revises and extends the fall, winter and spring screening windows for 2020-21 and addresses remote assessment considerations, staff training, screening and progress monitoring recommendations, and interpretation of assessment results.

Attendance and Absenteeism

Attendance and Absenteeism Guidance (9-16-20) - Provides guidance for districts and schools when developing and applying attendance policies in remote and hybrid learning models, ideas for tracking remote attendance and the use of absenteeism rates for the purpose of requesting permission to temporarily move to primarily remote learning.

CARES Act for PK-12 Schools

ESSER I/GEER I Reporting (1-29-21) - Provides a summary of the January 27th webinar content regarding the new reporting requirements and procedures on our first round of GEER/ESSER funds from the U.S. Department of Education. This document also includes a question and answer section compiled from participants.

CARES/CRRSA Funding (2-15-21) - Provides a summary of all funds districts received, and nonpublic schools received in equitable services, during COVID-19.

CARES Act Guidance: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds (ESSER) Distribution and ESEA Waivers* (5-5-20) - Addresses district allocations and the application for emergency relief funds, district reporting and accounting requirements and waivers of current requirements under ESEA for the 2019-2020 school year.

CARES Act Summary for K-12 Schools* (4-10-20) - Provides a preliminary summary of the provisions in the CARES Act that specifically relate to kindergarten through 12th grade schools across the country.

Career and Technical Education

Career and Technical Education Classroom Guidance (9-2-20) - Provides guidance on classroom and lab considerations for career and technical education (CTE) classes, broken down by CTE service area. This guidance is meant to supplement and not replace the protocols and expectations that local schools and health departments already have in place.

Concurrent Enrollment and Postsecondary Enrollment Options

COVID-19 and Delivery of Postsecondary Coursework through Concurrent Enrollment and the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Program* (3-24-20) - Provides guidance that applies to public and nonpublic student enrollments through a school district into postsecondary coursework in concurrent enrollment and/or the Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, as well as through a nonpublic school contracting directly with a community college for delivery of concurrent enrollment coursework.

CRRSA Act for PK-12 Schools

Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund II Application Requirements (4-30-21)

GEER II Guidance (4-15-21) - Provides a preliminary summary of the discretionary portion of GEER II, which will be awarded as competitive grants to public PK-12 districts and institutions of higher education.

CRRSA Act Guidance: Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools (EANS) (4-15-21) - Provides information regarding the EANS program, which allows eligible nonpublic schools to apply directly to the Department to receive services and assistance related to educational disruptions caused by COVID-19 instead of receiving equitable services from the district. This guidance has been updated to reflect the U.S. Department of Education’s March 2021 revisions to the EANS frequently asked question document and questions from the field.

  • CRRSA Act: EANS Allocations (4-15-21) - Provides participating nonpublic buildings with the final allocation amount available for assistance and services.

ESSER II Guidance: Use of Funds and Expenditures (3-8-21) - Provides districts with examples of allowable uses of ESSER II funds. While the focus of this document is on ESSER II, most requirements also apply to ESSER I.

CARES/CRRSA Funding (1-19-21)- Provides a summary of all funds districts received, and nonpublic schools received in equitable services, during COVID-19.

CRRSA Act Guidance: ESSER II (1-11-21) - Provides a preliminary summary of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act's ESSER Fund II and the requirements for districts to receive this supplemental funding.

  • CRRSA Act: ESSER Fund II Allocations - Provides districts with the amounts they can expect to receive in supplemental ESSER II relief. Please note that nonpublic schools are not eligible for services under this program but, instead, are eligible under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund II.

Early Childhood

Preschool Programming Frequently Asked Questions (9-24-20) - Provides guidance regarding attendance, programming and services, and the use of different Return-to-Learn educational delivery models for Statewide Voluntary Preschool Programs, Early Childhood Special Education and Shared Visions Preschool Programs.

Educator Preparation

COVID-19 Guidance: Educator Preparation FAQs* (4-16-20) - Addresses special education endorsements, student teaching and practicum settings, program completion testing, student teaching clinical experiences and pre-professional skills tests.

COVID-19 Guidance: Iowa Educator Preparation Programs* (3-26-20) - Addresses student teaching requirements, hour requirements for pre-student teaching and administrator preparation clinical experiences, tests used for program completion and use of letter grades compared to pass/fail.

Guidance for Iowa School Districts and Teacher Preparation Programs in Response to COVID-19* (3-16-20) - Addresses issues such as instructional time requirements, online learning, school meals, students with disabilities, accountability and assessment, graduation and teacher preparation programs.

Emergency Drills

Emergency Drills Guidance (9-8-20) - Provides guidance on emergency drills for the 2020-21 school year, including those for fire, tornado, emergency operations, and bus evacuation. Unless communicated otherwise, all drills required by law are in effect for the 2020-21 school year.

English Learners

Providing Services to English Learners (ELs) During the COVID-19 Outbreak Fact Sheet (9-21-20) - Outlines the district and state responsibilities to ELs during the COVID-19 outbreak and is to be used in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Education’s May 18, 2020 fact sheet.

Facilities Usage

COVID-19 Guidance: Use of School Facilities (6-5-20) - Provides general principles that apply to facilities that are related to school districts or accredited nonpublic schools in accordance with Iowa Code and proclamations signed by Governor Reynolds, which allow facilities in certain areas to open under certain circumstances and permit a limited resumption of summer school activities. The Department defers to local districts, public health, the IHSAA, IGHSAU and other associations that support school activities to determine how and when activities will resume.

Family School Engagement

COVID-19 Guidance: Family School Engagement Resources, Best Practices and Considerations* (4-21-20) - Provides ideas and resources for educators to positively and proactively engage with students and families/caregivers during prolonged school closures.

Fiscal Issues

COVID-19 Guidance: Public School and AEA Fiscal Issues* (4-30-20) (new topics are in bolded italics) - Addresses fiscal and operational issues around the tracking of COVID-19 expenditures, school budget review committee, staff payment, claims process, school nutrition programs, statewide voluntary preschool programs, open enrollment and tuition in-billing and payment, parent-paid tuition, foster care claim, contracted instructional services, special education consortia, canceled student trips, senior class account and school bus inspections.


Reopening and Public Health Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) (9-29-20) - (new topics are in bolded italics) Provides further clarification on reopening and public health guidance that was developed in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH). The FAQ includes explanations and examples regarding the transition between delivery models, monitoring 14-day average positivity rates, calculating absenteeism, requesting to temporarily move to primarily remote learning, counting days of instruction and the amount of time to make up if a noncompliant learning model is used, eligibility to participate in extracurricular activities, resuming in-person activities after a period of 100% remote learning, awarding of credit, close contact and whether or not to quarantine, among others.

Reopening Guidance for Schools: FAQs (6-30-20) - Provides further clarification on the Reopening Guidance for Schools that was written in collaboration with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and released June 25. The FAQ includes explanations and examples regarding support documents and resources for schools, considerations and potential implications regarding the use of face coverings, the ability to maintain social distancing, temperature screenings and what to do if an outbreak occurs in a school, among others.

Reopening Guidance for Schools (6-25-20) - Provides guidance created in partnership with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) as a resource for administrators to determine how to safely open districts and nonpublic schools and resume all school activities starting July 1. This guidance outlines health and safety requirements, illness reporting procedures and school district closure authority if the governor proclaims a public health disaster.

Return to Learn

Return-to-Learn Google Site - Website provides the most up-to-date Return-to-Learn resources and tools to support districts and schools in creating and implementing Return-to-Learn plans. The website is grouped around the following areas: Required Continuous Learning, Leadership and Infrastructure, Health and Safety, Iowa Academic Standards (Equity), Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health (Equity), Special Education, Data, and Preschool Programs and Services.

Return to Learn: Reopening Iowa's Schools Safely and Responsibly (7-30-20)

Return-to-Learn Plan 2020-21 Submission Content (6-16-20) - Provides the content for the required Return-to-Learn Plan. Districts and accredited nonpublic schools must submit this plan by July 1, 2020 in the Consolidated Accountability and Support Application (CASA).

Return-to-Learn Support Structure* (5-14-20) - Provides information regarding the Department/AEA collaboration to provide districts/schools the supports necessary to complete required Return-to-Learn plans.

Return-to-Learn Guidance* (5-8-20) - Provides an overview of the required Return-to-Learn plans that must be submitted to the Department by July 1, 2020.

  • Return-to-Learn Support Document (5-8-20) - Serves as a static version of the support document for districts and nonpublic schools to use ;in the development, implementation and monitoring of their Return-to-Learn plans. For the most up-to-date version of the Return-to-Learn Support Document (editable), see the Return-to-Learn Google Site.

Senate File 160

Senate File 160: Guidance for Schools (2-2-21) - Updates reflect frequently asked questions about counting professional development time, applicability to preschool programs, severe weather exceptions, and additional examples. The law goes into effect on Feb. 15 and requires Iowa districts and accredited nonpublic schools to provide parents and guardians with the option to send their children to school in-person full-time. The guidance addresses implications for districts and schools.

Senate File 2310

CPR and Graduation Requirements for the Class of 2021 (4-16-21) - Provides guidance regarding the requirement that high school students must complete a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) course to graduate.

Senate File 2310 and Governor’s Proclamation FAQs (7-20-20) - Provides further clarification on guidance issued to help districts and schools implement the requirements of Senate File 2310, signed into law on June 29, 2020, by Governor Reynolds. This FAQ is meant to be read with the Senate File 2310: Guidance for Schools.

Senate File 2310: Guidance for Schools (7-17-20) - Provides guidance clarifying key provisions of Senate File 2310 (effective June 29), which addresses online learning, requirements for online coursework, funding flexibility, temporary instructional flexibilities and reporting requirements concerning the impact of COVID-19.

Open Enrollment Guidance for Senate File 2310 (7-1-20) - Provides guidance on open enrollment in accordance to Senate File 2310. This law extends the open enrollment deadline for the 2020-21 school year to July 15 for parents, guardians and caregivers to apply to open enroll a student at an approved online public school in certain circumstances where the student, or a person who resides with the student, has a significant health condition that may increase the risk of COVID-19. This guidance and form are only for use during the 2020-21 school year.

Special Education

Return-to-Learn Google Site: Special Education - Provides additional considerations and support for Special Education/Equity that should be noted in any Return-to-Learn Plan.

COVID-19 Recovery Services for Learners Receiving IDEA Services FAQs (02-08-21) - Provides answers to frequently asked questions related to recovery services.

Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Alternate Assessment (8-27-20) - Provides guidance on participation in the DLM Fall Assessment Window.

Early Literacy Alternate Assessment (EL AA) (8-6-20) - Provides guidance on participation in the Early Literacy Alternate Assessment Screener.

Placement Decisions During COVID-19 Pandemic (7-20-20) - Helps IEP teams clarify the factors to be considered when determining placement during continuous learning/virtual and hybrid delivery of general and special education.

Considerations for a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) (6-25-20) - Addresses "free appropriate public education" as the foundational principle of IDEA and special education services in Iowa.

Teacher and Administrator Evaluation

COVID-19 Guidance: Teacher and Administrator Evaluation* (4-17-20) - Addresses accommodations for conducting educator and administrator performance evaluations using virtual platforms.


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Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) Program


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Community College

Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund II Application Requirements (4-30-21)

High School Equivalency Official Practice Test Guidance (5-13-20) - Addresses requirements for remote proctoring of the official practice test to obtain evidence of a passing score required for final HiSET® testing. Includes the High School Equivalency Official Practice Test Agency Remote Testing Agreement form that must be submitted prior to remote testing.

COVID-19 Guidance: Iowa Adult Education and Literacy FAQs (5-13-20) - (new topics are in bolded italics) Addresses funding and financial management, waiver to extend the availability of funds, program operations, distance education, remote assessment, record management, personally identifiable information, grant management and performance, high school equivalency diploma testing and official practice tests.

COVID-19 Guidance: Temporary Community College Program Modification Process* (4-10-20) - Addresses a temporary program modification process related to scheduled lab and/or clinical planned program contact hours. A waiver of the regulatory provisions of Iowa Administrative Code rule 281-21.2(12)(i)-(m) waives minimum contact hour restrictions for community colleges that notify the Department of any modification consistent with this guidance.

COVID-19 Guidance: State Mandated Drinking Driver Program* (3-30-20) - Addresses alternatives for the delivery of the state-mandated 12-hour drinking driver course and provides guidance on conducting the jail diversion program.

COVID-19 and Delivery of Postsecondary Coursework through Concurrent Enrollment and the Postsecondary Enrollment Options Program* (3-24-20) - Provides guidance that applies to public and nonpublic student enrollments through a school district into postsecondary coursework in concurrent enrollment and/or the Postsecondary Enrollment Options (PSEO) program, as well as through a nonpublic school contracting directly with a community college for delivery of concurrent enrollment coursework.


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Resources to Support Learning for Families and Educators

General Resources for Educators Moving to Online Learning for Students (4-9-20) - Provides resources in the following areas: General, Instruction, Professional Learning and Social-Emotional-Behavioral Health.

Resources to Support Learning (3-31-20) - Provides optional resources for Iowa families and educators to use as they support student learning during school closures due to COVID-19. The resources for PK-12 students do not replace what they have learned in school but, instead, help students practice or enrich the skills and strategies taught by teachers.


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Other State Agencies COVID-19 Guidance

Iowa Department of Human Services

Iowa Department of Public Health

Iowa Department of Transportation


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COVID-19 in Iowa

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on July 28, 2021 at 2:32pm.