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Continuing Pandemic-EBT Assistance for Eligible Families

December 8, 2022

 

We understand that some of our students continue to experience impacts and challenges due to COVID-19 and the District now has added a new reason to its daily absence systems to track this for families who may be eligible for additional benefits. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will provide eligible families impacted by COVID with additional financial assistance through the Pandemic-EBT program (known as P-EBT). This year, benefits will be issued based on the actual number of excused COVID-19-related days of school missed for each student, so careful tracking of each absence day is critical. To help ensure our District is compliant with these requirements, we are now asking families if absences are due in some way to COVID; note that this broader definition means a student marked absent due to COVID may not actually have symptoms of any illness. 

 

The Vermont Agency of Education (VT-AOE) recently provided the following list of absence reasons that will be considered by EWSD schools to be COVID-related. Note that this list is not exhaustive and our COVID Coordinator or P-EBT Program Directors may determine an absence not described to be COVID-related. These examples could include student-related absences initiated by a household or the school for any of the following reasons:

 

  • Absence due to COVID-19-like symptoms (with or without a positive test).

  • Absence due to any quarantine or isolation recommendations as issued by the Vermont Department of Health (These may include positive test or illness symptoms of the student or others in their household.) 

  • Absence due to any need to quarantine before/after travel or to protect vulnerable households or family members.

  • Absence to receive COVID-19 vaccination or as a result of symptoms related to COVID-19 vaccinations.

  • Absence due to transportation barriers resulting from a COVID-19-related reason. 

  • Students who cannot attend school because paraeducators or other support staff assigned to that student are not available for a COVID-19-related reason. 

  • Medically-vulnerable students needing to reduce risks of exposure to COVID-19. 

 

All EWSD schools, and therefore all students, currently qualify for the P-EBT program this year under Provision 2. Any student whose absence meets the above criteria, regardless of their Free & Reduced Meal status, will receive this assistance if they mark that the absence is COVID-related when reporting to their school. The EWSD will track any classroom or school closures that may arise due to COVID separately. 

 

Please contact Scott Fay, Director of EWSD Child Nutrition Program, with any questions. 

 

Links to Guidance:

AOE Memo: Definition of Covid-19 Related Absence for Purposes of Issuing P-EBT Benefits

AOE Message 8/23/22: Tracking COVID-Related Absences for SY22-23 P-EBT