Readout of the U.S. Department of Education's Coronavirus Conference Call with Chief State School Officers

Archived Information

Readout of the U.S. Department of Education's Coronavirus Conference Call with Chief State School Officers

March 12, 2020

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of Education and other federal partners hosted a conference call with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to discuss the Administration's response to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and to answer their members' questions about school closures, school meal programs, testing and accountability measures, and grant administration, among other topics.

  • Deputy Secretary Mitchell "Mick" Zais, who leads the Department of Education's Coronavirus working group, opened the call, gave a brief rundown of Coronavirus-related guidance the Department recently issued to the field and encouraged participants to frequently visit the Department's website for Coronavirus-related materials,
  • Assistant Secretary Frank Brogan of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education shared information on flexibilities available to states, school districts, and schools with respect to certain accountability requirements under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
  • Assistant Secretary Kenneth Marcus of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) discussed the Department's letter to education leaders on preventing and addressing potential discrimination associated with COVID-19.
  • Director Laurie VanderPloeg of the Office of Special Education Programs spoke about the Department's guidance on how, in the midst of the outbreak and potential school closures, to provide services to students with disabilities.
  • Acting Director Kala Surprenant of the Student Privacy Policy Office discussed the Department's guidance on the sharing of student education records during a health and safety emergency under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

In addition to Department officials, representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) participated in the call:

  • Dr. Nancy Messonnier and Kathleen Ethier, PhD, from the CDC discussed policies regarding school closures and cleanings during the pandemic.
  • Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps from USDA addressed the Department's ongoing commitment to feeding low-income children when schools close. USDA intends to use all available program flexibilities and contingencies to serve program participants across their 15 nutrition programs. USDA has already begun to issue waivers to ease program operations and protect the health of participants.
  • Ryan Palmer from the FCC discussed access to digital communications during the pandemic.

Participants from the U.S. Department of Education
Dr. Mitchell "Mick" Zais, Deputy Secretary 
Frank Brogan, Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 
Kenneth Marcus, Assistant Secretary, Office for Civil Rights 
Laurie VanderPloeg, Director, Office of Special Education Programs 
Kala Surprenant, Acting Director, Student Privacy Policy Office

Participants from Additional Federal Agencies
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Kathleen Ethier, PhD, Director, Division of Adolescent and School Health, National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Brandon Lipps, Deputy Under Secretary, Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Ryan Palmer, Chief of Telecommunications Access Policy Division, Federal Communications Commission

For addition information on the Department's Coronavirus response, or to view the Department's guidance documents on Coronavirus, visit

For more information about the Coronavirus, please visit: