Fiscal Report
Public Education's Point of Reference for Making Educated Decisions

Help! I’ve Quarantined and I Can’t Get (My ADA) Up!

In recent weeks and even days, we at School Services of California Inc. (SSC) have been contacted by local educational agencies (LEAs) who have commenced their 2021–22 school year and have already had cases of COVID-19 infections and exposures, compelling them to send students and staff into quarantine. The most common fiscal question we have been receiving is: How do I protect my average daily attendance (ADA) for the period that students are in quarantine?

SSC posted an article about an option for generating ADA under quarantine prospectively (see “Ask SSC . . . How Do I Protect ADA When Students Quarantine?” in the August 2021 Fiscal Report), but for LEAs that have already quarantined students—some by the hundreds—retroactively implementing an independent study program for them may not be viable, even with the 30-day window in Education Code Section (EC §) 51747(g)(9)(F) to collect agreements after the first instructional day. So, what can an LEA do in this circumstance?

There are two salient laws that provide a path to help an LEA preserve ADA and funding under this circumstance. First, EC § 46392 authorizes LEAs that experience a material decrease in ADA due to emergencies, including health epidemics, to file requests for protection with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction (SSPI)—we refer commonly to this provision as the J-13A waiver. Normally, LEAs must experience at least a 10% loss in ADA in order to qualify for a J-13A waiver; however, during declared states of emergency like the COVID-19 emergency we are currently under, this threshold does not apply. Thus, an LEA may apply for a J-13A waiver even when only partial classrooms and/or partial school ADA is impacted.

The second salient law is found in EC § 46393, which established a new requirement for LEAs to have a plan to offer independent study to students impacted by an emergency. The important provision in this section for LEAs that have already quarantined students and have experienced a material decrease in ADA as a result, is that the new independent study requirement only applies to emergency events occurring after September 1, 2021, and for which J-13A waiver requests are filed.

Therefore, LEAs for which the 2021–22 school year has already begun and that have had to quarantine students infected by or exposed to COVID-19 may file J-13A waiver requests with the SSPI without a plan to offer independent study. If approved, the waiver will protect LEAs from any material loss in ADA and funding.

It is worth reiterating that this option exists only for emergencies occurring before September 2, 2021. On or after September 2, LEAs will be required to include in their J-13A affidavits a plan to offer independent study for impacted students. It is also worth noting that the plan to offer independent study to impacted students is not subject to EC § 51747(d) – (f), which includes opportunities for students to participate in live interaction or synchronous instruction, tiered reengagement or intervention strategies, and plans to transition students back to in-person instruction.