Missouri Children’s Division has released the following temporary policy regarding school attendance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purpose of this policy is to provide staff guidance about possible changes in school options for foster children during the 2020-2021 school year. This policy would be in addition to existing temporary policy which encourages consultation with the local health department to determine whether local conditions have improved in order to facilitate the safe attendance of in-person activities. Consideration should also be made as to the child’s medical history which might place them in a high risk category, as well as the child’s developmental needs and ability to practice appropriate mask wearing if required and capability to socially distance as necessary.
Regulation requires that educational planning for a child in foster care be made by the family support team. Online and virtual school options are programs administered by the school district to accommodate learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though a resource parent is facilitating work completion, they are not the teacher of record. Homeschool is a child being unenrolled from their school district to be educated outside the public or private school environment.
If an online or virtual school option is provided by the district as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and is a consideration by the resource parent as an appropriate option for the child, the resource provider should advise the family support team so that a meeting can be scheduled to discuss. A court order is not needed to allow a child to attend a district approved online or virtual school option but the Juvenile Officer must be informed of any educational plan other than that which takes place in the traditional public school setting. If a resource provider wants to unenroll the child from their district and homeschool the child outside of those circumstances, then notification should be provided to the court so that a formal order may be issued.
If any member of the team is opposed to the child attending an approved online or virtual school option through their school district, the party opposed may file a motion and request a hearing before the court. If the party fails to file a proper motion and the other team members have determined that online or virtual school attendance is in the child’s best interests, the resource provider may proceed to partner with the school to make the necessary arrangements.
If the family support team chooses a virtual or online school option, workers should continue to keep in monthly written or phone contact with school personnel regarding the child’s engagement in the schooling and any concerns for safety or well-being that school personnel may have.