Governor signs bill permitting virtual instruction in 2021-22

By August 31, 2021 News

Yesterday, Governor Cooper signed S 654 – K-12 COVID-19 Provisions into law. S 654, now Session Law 2021-30, has numerous implications for charter operations during the 2021-22 school year. You can find the new law here.

Provisions in S 654

S 654 addresses school accountability provisions, operations, and instruction. For instance, the law allows public school units (PSUs) to provide planned virtual instruction in 2021-22. In addition, the law indicates that:

  • The State Board of Education (SBE) will not calculate achievement, growth, and performance scores, or display growth designations, letter grades, and performance scores for 2021-22, based on 2020-21 data.
  • SBE will not identify additional low-performing schools based on 2020-21 data.
  • Schools may make day-to-day decisions about virtual instruction in 2021-22 for COVID emergencies, shifting to temporary virtual instruction if necessary. Schools must notify the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) within 72 hours of making the shift.
  • School boards must vote at least once a month on mask requirements.

Planned virtual instruction

Of particular importance to charters: PSUs may now provide planned virtual instruction with consent from parents or guardians. Instruction must be consistent with virtual learning plans submitted to DPI by October 1, 2021. Specific guidance for charter leaders is coming soon from the Office of Charter Schools.

According to language in S 654, plans should provide the following information:

  • Range of grades
  • Type of virtual instruction (full-time or blended)
  • Whether virtual instruction is offered as the primary means of instruction, a school within a school, or customized to students
  • Number of students learning virtually
  • Means for identifying students learning virtually, for performance and EVAAS tracking purposes
  • Participation requirements, including eligibility and parent agreements
  • Monitoring methods for enrollment, attendance, course tracking, and more
  • Resources utilized by schools to provide virtual instruction
  • Communication methods
  • Staff roles and expectations
  • Measures to ensure learning growth
  • Infrastructure necessary to support virtual instruction
  • Methods to ensure instruction is consistent with a student’s IEP or 504 plan
  • Procedures impacting students at risk of academic failure

Read the language in full in PART IIIB. PLANNED VIRTUAL INSTRUCTION, SECTION 3B.(b) of the new law on pages 5 and 6. This authorization runs through June 30, 2022. After that date, authorization for virtual instruction must come from the NC General Assembly.

Read more about S 654 from EdNC.