Free school meals to continue in upcoming academic year

Delaware K-12 schools will have the option to continue offering free nutritious school meals during the 2021-2022 school year, the Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) announced today.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) released a group of waivers and eligibility guidelines allowing schools to offer meals without determining eligibility based on the student’s household income.


Participating schools can operate under the Seamless Summer Option (SSO) and will receive a higher federal reimbursement rate per meal.


Schools that elect not to serve free meals through the SSO will determine eligibility for free and reduced-price meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) using federal income guidelines. The annually updated income eligibility guidelines for the 2021-22 school year have been released by the USDA.


The new eligibility guidelines went into effect July 1, 2021 and allow schools and other institutions and facilities to determine eligibility for the NSLP, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Milk Program for Children, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, and the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer.


To apply, households already receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) need only include the SNAP or TANF case number on their application if not notified of their automatic eligibility by the school. Households enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) may qualify for free or reduced-price school meals and should complete a Household Meal Benefit Application. Households should contact the school nutrition program of the district or school where their child(ren) attends school for further information.


In accordance with Federal civil rights law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) civil rights regulations and policies, the USDA, its Agencies, offices, and employees, and institutions participating in or administering USDA programs are prohibited from discriminating based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or reprisal or retaliation for prior civil rights activity in any program or activity conducted or funded by USDA.


Persons with disabilities who require alternative means of communication for program information (e.g., Braille, large print, audiotape, American Sign Language, etc.), should contact the Agency (State or local) where they applied for benefits. Individuals who are deaf, hard of hearing or have speech disabilities may contact USDA through the Federal Relay Service at (800) 877-8339. Additionally, program information may be made available in languages other than English.


To file a program complaint of discrimination, complete the USDA Program Discrimination Complaint Form, (AD-3027) found online at:, and at any USDA office, or write a letter addressed to USDA and provide in the letter all of the information requested in the form. To request a copy of the complaint form, call (866) 632-9992. Submit your completed form or letter to USDA by:


(1)     mail: U.S. Department of Agriculture

                  Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights

                  1400 Independence Avenue, SW

                  Washington, D.C. 20250-9410;

(2)     fax: (202) 690-7442; or

(3)     email:


This institution is an equal opportunity provider.


Media contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006

Students honored in webapp mapping competition


Secretary of Education Susan Bunting congratulated Delaware’s winners of the Esri’s 2021 ArcGIS US School Competition this afternoon, three siblings who each won $100 in prize money from ESRI.

The winners:

Natalie Lewis, a ninth grader at Caesar Rodney High School (1st place for high school competition)
Brendan Lewis, 12th grader at Caesar Rodney High School (2nd Place for high school competition)
Eric Lewis, home school student (1st place for middle school Competition)

Eric’s URL’s: (Horseshoe crabs in the Delaware Bay)
Item Details page:

Natalie’s URL’s (Delaware Bike Trails)
Item Details:

Brendan’s URL’s: (Historic Walks of Dover)
Item Details Page:

Picture of winners
Picture of winners being honored by Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting.

Pictured left to right: Brooke Santiago of Delaware Center for Geographic Education, Brendan Lewis, Natalie Lewis, Mary Schorse of Delaware Center for Geographic Education, Eric Lewis, Corey Downer of Delaware Department of Education, Secretary of Education Susan Bunting


The Delaware Department of Education, in conjunction with the state’s geospatial education community, encourages Delaware middle and high school students to join in Esri’s 2021 ArcGIS online competition. Students are challenged to create and share interactive mapping projects using ESRI ArcGIS software. Delaware entrants to this national competition must create a digital map or Storymap that highlights facts and features unique to Delaware.

Esri’s 2021 ArcGIS US School Competition is open to high school (grades 9-12) and middle school (grades 6-8) students in the United States. Assistance is available to teachers and students who have limited knowledge of how to create an ArcGIS Storymap or web app. Delaware’s top 5 middle and top 5 high school students each will be awarded a $100 cash prize. The state also will select one middle school and one high school entrant to compete nationally. Winners at the national level each will earn a trip to the 2021 Esri Education Summit in San Diego, CA.

“We’re excited to be part of a competition that gives our students a chance to practice real-world skills in both an enjoyable and a meaningful way,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said.

The competition closes May 10. Find more information online here. Email with questions.

Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) Updates Face Mask Guidance for Children

Children entering kindergarten and older must wear face masks in public settings

WILMINGTON, Del. — As Delaware families consider a safe return to school, Governor Carney and the Division of Public Health on Monday announced an update to Delaware’s face coverings guidance for children.

All children who are in kindergarten or older must wear face coverings in public settings, including school buildings, according to the updated DPH guidance.

All children 2 years of age and older are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings in public. Children younger than 2 must not wear face coverings due to suffocation risk. A child with a medical condition that makes it hard to breathe or a disability that prevents the child from wearing a face covering is not required to wear one.

The updated guidance will be included this week in a modification to Governor Carney’s State of Emergency order.

“The evidence could not be more clear that wearing face coverings is the best thing we can all do to keep our communities healthy,” said Governor Carney. “I know masks can be uncomfortable at times for children and adults. But if we stay vigilant and work together, we’ll continue to make real progress against this virus.”

The State of Delaware will not enforce mask use among children, but encourages parents to refer to materials from DPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for information on wearing face coverings properly, and the benefits of wearing a face covering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click here for more information about face coverings.

“Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics are emphasizing now more than before that face coverings can be safely and easily worn by the vast majority of children,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Delaware Division of Public Health. “Newer studies convey that all age groups are susceptible to infection. The good news is the most infections in the younger age group of 5 – 10 appear to be mild. And although spread from this age group to others appears low, it still may occur. Therefore, use of face coverings in this age group is an important measure that can help prevent that spread.”

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 

Questions can also be submitted by email at

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to


Governor Carney, Secretary Bunting Announce Working Groups to Plan Safe Return to School Buildings

Working groups will focus on health and wellness, academics and equity, and operations and services

WILMINGTON, Del. – Governor John Carney and Secretary of Education Susan Bunting announced a public strategy on Monday to plan for the safe reopening of Delaware school buildings. Three COVID-19 School Reopening Working Groups will advise the Delaware Department of Education (DOE), Delaware school districts and charter schools on ways to safely and effectively reopen Delaware school buildings.

Last month, Governor Carney closed Delaware public school buildings for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the threat of COVID-19.

The working groups will focus on:

  • Health and Wellness
    • Co-chair: Mike Rodriguez, Associate Secretary, Delaware Department of Education
    • Co-chair: Dr. Meghan Walls, Pediatric Psychologist, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children
  • Academics and Equity
    • Co-chair: Monica Gant, Associate Secretary, Delaware Department of Education
    • Co-chair: Ashley Giska, Assistant Superintendent, Laurel School District
  • Operations and Services
    • Co-chair: Chuck Longfellow, Associate Secretary, Delaware Department of Education
    • Co-chair: Oliver Gumbs, Director of Business Operations, Cape Henlopen School District

“These working groups will provide important recommendations to Secretary Bunting and school and district leaders on how to safely return to school,” said Governor Carney. “I am pleased with the expertise these members bring to this important effort and look forward to their guidance on the key issues that Delaware’s superintendents and charter school leaders must consider before re-opening their buildings.”

Click on working group to view membership

  • Co-Chair Mike Rodriguez: Associate Secretary, Delaware DOE
  • Co-Chair Dr. Meghan Walls: Pediatric Psychologist, Nemours
  • Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald: Superintendent, Caesar Rodney School District
  • Dr. Laretha Odumosu: Executive Director, Charter School of New Castle Middle School
  • Dr. Susan Haberstroh: Director of School Support Services, Delaware DOE
  • Stacy Greenly: Counselor, Polytech High School
  • Dana Carr: Delaware Division of Public Health
  • Sue Smith: Nurse, Mispillion Elementary and member of the Professional Standards Board (PSB)
  • Dafne Carnright: Former Chair, Governor’s Advisory Council for Exceptional Citizens and Family Services Program Manager, Autism Delaware
  • Dr. Marisel Santiago: Director of Pediatrics, La Red Health Center
  • Rev. Provey Powell: Mt. Joy United Methodist Church and Delaware State Board of Education Member
  • Kristin Dwyer: Delaware State Education Association
  • Representative Valerie Longhurst: Delaware House Majority Leader
  • Representative Michael Smith: House Education Committee Member
  • Senator Laura Sturgeon: Chair, Senate Education Committee
  • Senator Anthony Delcollo: Senate Education Committee Member
  • Student Representative: Sussex Technical High School

  • Co-Chair Dr. Monica Gant: Associate Secretary, Delaware DOE
  • Co-Chair Ashley Giska: Assistant Superintendent, Laurel School District
  • Dr. Matt Burrows: Superintendent, Appoquinimink School District
  • Laura Schneider: Principal, West Seaford Elementary
  • Loretta Greig: Parent, Lake Forest High School and member of the Professional Standards Board (PSB)
  • Dr. Lisa Lawson: Executive Director of Special Education and Support Services, Brandywine School District
  • Eugene Young: President, Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League
  • Dr. Maria Alonso: Board President, Academia Antonia Alonso Charter School
  • Rebecca Vitelli: 2020 Delaware Teacher of the Year, Colonial School District
  • Stephanie Ingram: President, DSEA
  • Allison Castellanos: ESL Professor, Delaware Technical & Community College
  • Gwendolyn Haar: English Teacher, Dover High School
  • Representative Kim Williams: Vice-Chair, House Education Committee
  • Senator Tizzy Lockman: Vice-Chair, Senate Education Committee
  • Representative Bryan Shupe: House Education Committee Member
  • Senator Brian Pettyjohn: Delaware State Senate, District 19
  • Student Representative: Smyrna High School

  • Co-Chair Dr. Chuck Longfellow: Associate Secretary, Delaware DOE
  • Co-Chair Oliver Gumbs: Director of Business Operations, Cape Henlopen School District
  • Dr. Sherry Kijowski: Principal, Caesar Rodney High School
  • Heath Chasanov: Superintendent, Woodbridge School District
  • David Hearn: Athletic Director/Drivers Ed Teacher, Delmar School District
  • Stacey Clark: Director of Instruction and Student Services, First State Military Academy
  • Natosha Rivera: Transportation Supervisor, Seaford School District
  • Gerald Allen: HR Director, New Castle County Vo-Tech School District and member of the Professional Standards Board (PSB)
  • Kristine Bewley: Manager of Information Systems, Red Clay Consolidated School District
  • Leolga Wright: School Board Member, Indian River School District
  • Mary Nash Wilson: Senior Fiscal and Policy Analyst, Delaware Office of Management and Budget
  • Jeff Taschner: Executive Director, DSEA
  • Mike Williams: Delaware PTA Secretary/Parent, Christina School District
  • Representative Earl Jaques: Chair, House Education Committee
  • Senator Dave Sokola: Senate Education Committee Member and Former Chair
  • Representative Charles Postles: House Education Committee Member
  • Senator Dave Lawson: Delaware State Senate, District 15

“We’re asking each working group to help the department develop a framework of essential actions that school district and charter school leaders should take to effectuate a safe return to school,” said Secretary Bunting. “These working groups also will help us reach out to our communities so that the ideas and concerns of Delawareans ground our work. These meetings will be open to the public, and I encourage participation across our state.”

Virtual meetings will be listed on the Public Meeting Calendar. The first meeting is Thursday, May 21 at 2:00 p.m.  

“Preparing for the next school year under these extremely difficult times is going to require a multifaceted approach,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, a member of the Health and Wellness working group. “It’s not enough to plan for the logistics of how the schools will physically operate and how to ensure all students receive the quality education they deserve. We also have to prepare to address the mental health challenges that many of our children will face. This has been a stressful time for everyone, and children are no different. If we want this unique upcoming school year to be successful, we have to address students’ mental health and wellness.”

“It is imperative that we protect the safety, health, and wellbeing of students and staff when we reopen our schools,” said Stephanie Ingram, President of the Delaware State Education Association. “Our primary goal is to meet the educational, social, and emotional needs of all students. These state work groups will give educators a voice in the decision-making process while making sure their thoughts and concerns are heard. This is all about safety. We do not want to rush into a decision that puts anyone in harm’s way.”

“As we work to transition from remote learning back into our school buildings, supporting the health and wellness of our students and staff members is imperative,” said Mike Rodriguez, Associate Secretary of Student Support at the Delaware Department of Education. “I’m excited to work with these leaders from across our state to recommend what programming, supports and protections are needed.”

The working groups, which include student representation and members of the General Assembly, will make final recommendations to DOE in July. The working groups will continue to meet through September 2020, or an alternate time period as set by Secretary Bunting. DOE will provide staffing support to the working groups.

“I’m honored to co-chair this workgroup to support Delaware students as we navigate how to make the safe transition back to school,” said Dr. Meghan Walls, a pediatric psychologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children and co-chair of the Health and Wellness working group. “Among our many considerations are the impact of social and emotional distancing and the importance of employing science-based practices to help students return safely to a new normal, prepared to learn.”

“I am honored to work with such a talented group of stakeholders on what will be one of the most impactful challenges on public education in modern history,” said Ashley Giska, Assistant Superintendent at Laurel School District and co-chair of the Academics and Equity working group. “While the logistics of supporting our students academically and with equity as a driving force will be great, the innovation coming from all of our schools in such a short span of time has been truly inspiring. I am certain we can create a robust path forward for all students in Delaware to grow and thrive as learners in this new environment.”

Anyone with a question about COVID-19, whether related to medical or social service needs, should call Delaware 2-1-1. Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing can text their ZIP code to 898-211. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Health or medically-related COVID-19 questions can also be submitted by email at

DPH will continue to update the public as more information becomes available. For the latest on Delaware’s response, go to


School nutrition programs announce meal options for students during closure

The Delaware Department of Education has received a waiver from the federal government to allow school nutrition programs to provide meals to students during the closure.


“We know that many of our students depend on the meals they receive in schools as their main source of food. Receiving waivers for the operation of the federal School Nutrition Programs means that most of our districts and charter schools will be able to provide meals for students who may need them during the time they are not in school due to COVID-19,” Secretary of Education Susan Bunting said. “Additionally, the state is in communication with other organizations that may assist in the provision of meals for students during this time.”


Please find a list of open meal sites for students here (  Families may pick up meal bags for children 18 and under who live in their home. Children must be present. Any family needing additional information may contact their district or charter office.


Media contact: Alison May,, 302-735-4006