By November 1, 2020, public school districts must report information to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) regarding the period of school closure (March 18 – June 30, 2020).  The report must include information about the delivery of virtual instruction to students during the period of school closure, the meals served to students during the school closure period, and the fiscal and staffing impacts of COVID-19 and the related public health emergency and school closure.  This obligation was included as part of 2019 Wisconsin Act 185 (Act 185), the legislation signed into law by Governor Evers on April 15, 2020. 

On or about August 10, 2020, DPI released the Act 185 survey tool consisting of 22 questions to collect the required information from school districts.  The survey questions can be previewed on DPI’s website. 

DPI has recommended that school districts take the following steps to complete the Act 185 Survey:

  1. Designate a primary contact to complete this survey in order to facilitate the gathering of the information requested in the survey.
  2. Open the PDF or Word version of the survey questions to view and/or print all survey questions in advance.
  3. Review survey questions to determine which district staff will need to be contacted to gather the data.
  4. Distribute the survey questions to staff and direct staff to provide responses to the primary contact.
  5. When all responses are ready for entry, the primary contact should enter the responses directly into the survey webpage.

Each school district should have received an email from DPI with a unique link to access the school district’s survey.  Only one person in each school district will be able to enter data.  According to DPI, the system is designed to allow school districts to enter and exit the survey repeatedly without losing data, such that it is not necessary to enter information in response to all survey questions in one sitting.

For purposes of the Act 185 Survey, the following definitions are to be used:

  • Public health emergency means the period during the 2019-20 school year when schools were closed by the Department of Health Services, under Wis. Stat. § 252.02(3), i.e., from March 12 through June 30, 2020.
  • Virtual instruction means instruction provided through means of the Internet if the pupils participating in and instructional staff providing the instruction are geographically remote from each other.

It is important to read the survey questions carefully and to answer in an honest and forthcoming manner.  DPI plans to use the information from the school district responses to the Act 185 survey to produce the state report that is required to be submitted to the Legislature by January 1, 2021.

For questions regarding this article, please contact the author,

or your Renning, Lewis & Lacy attorney.

Shana R. Lewis

Shana R. Lewis | 844-826-0902
The author would like to thank Law Clerk Bennett Thering for his contributions to this article.
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