Your Education Road Map

Politics K-12

Betsy DeVos. Donald Trump. The Every Student Succeeds Act. Congress. State chiefs. School spending. Elections. Education Week reporters keep watch on education policy and politics in the nation’s capital and in the states.


English-Learners and Virtual Learning During COVID-19: Will Federal Guidance Help?

By Corey Mitchell — May 26, 2020 2 min read

A recently released U.S. Department of Education fact sheet reminds educators that schools must continue to provide support for English-language learners during distance learning, but the instructions came nearly two months after most brick-and-mortar schools around the country had shut down for the year to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The 10-page fact sheet issued May 18 outlines how districts can provide support to English-learner students during distance learning, but concedes that “schools may not be able to provide all services in the same manner they are typically provided” and that their English-language skills may suffer because “they may have experienced limited instruction for an extended time during the school closures.”

Advocates are concerned that the outbreak-related closures could have severe consequences for the roughly 5 million students who receive tailored language support while classes are in session.

In a video posted online in English and Spanish, Lorena Orozco McElwain, the new director of the federal Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA), which oversees English-language-learner education, acknowledged concerns about distance learning.

“During this pandemic, OELA is committed to understanding English-learners’ access to distance learning, especially in underserved communities and in tribal communities,” McElwain said in the video posted to the agency’s YouTube channel.

The fact sheet also advises that schools should not reclassify students and exit them from English-learner services “unless the student has demonstrated proficiency on a valid and reliable assessment that includes the four domains of listening, speaking, reading, and writing.” For schools that were not able to complete their English-language proficiency tests before schools shut down, districts should try to complete testing this fall if possible, while acknowledging that students’ skills may have regressed.

The fact sheet also reminds schools that if distance learning is occurring, all new students, including those who enrolled while physical schools are closed, should be screened to determine if they need English-learner support services.

Here’s a look at the guidance from the office of English language acquisition:

Covid 19 El Factsheet by corey_c_mitchell on Scribd

Related Reading

DeVos Appoints New Director for English-Learner Office

English-Learners May Be Left Behind as Remote Learning Becomes ‘New Normal’

Image Credit: In this Nov. 26, 2018, file photo, Odalys Tebalan works on an assignment at Fairview Elementary in Carthage, Mo. Millions of children are suddenly learning at home everything from reading and multiplication to literature and calculus as a result of school closures prompted by the global coronavirus pandemic. Many parents are trying to guide their children through assignments, but many face the challenge of English comprehension. -- Roger Nomer/The Joplin Globe

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Special Education Teachers
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Speech Therapists
Lancaster, PA, US
Lancaster Lebanon IU 13
Elementary Teacher
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools
Elementary Teacher - Scholars Academy
Madison, Wisconsin
One City Schools

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read