Public Health and Government
The Iowa Utilities Board’s Lifeline program is available to qualified low-income Iowans who need basic telephone service and broadband internet access service, the IUB announced this week. Lifeline provides applicants limited monthly financial assistance to help defray the costs; due to COVID-19, the program is pausing recertification dates through May 18. More information is available online

Business
Iowa Legal Aid, the Iowa State Bar Association and the Polk County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project have launched the COVID-19 Legal Advice Hotline for Iowans who need free legal advice related to the public health crisis. The hotline can be contacted at 800-332-0419 and will be operated from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Those who meet Iowa Legal Aid’s guidelines will be connected with an Iowa Legal Aid attorney; those who are outside of Iowa Legal Aid’s guidelines will be connected with volunteer attorneys through the Iowa State Bar Association and the Polk County Bar Association’s Volunteer Lawyers Project.   

Homesteaders Life Co. of West Des Moines committed up to $100,000 in matching funds for the Funeral Service Foundation’s COVID-19 Crisis Response Fund, which will help funeral service professionals and organizations in communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 crisis. More information is available online.

Education
The Iowa Department of Education on Monday received a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education allowing for flexibility in the use of federal funds to best meet the needs of students and educators during the COVID-19 national emergency. The new flexibilities, authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, eliminate some restrictions on federal K-12 education funds dedicated to areas such as technology infrastructure and teacher training on continuous learning during the national emergency, the Iowa Department of Education said in a press release. Continuous learning encompasses any methodology used to extend learning beyond brick-and-mortar district buildings — online learning, e-learning, distance learning and virtual learning. While the waiver has been granted, the state agency is seeking public comment as required. More information will be provided to schools as soon as details are available, the department said. For more information, visit the Iowa Department of Education’s COVID-19 Guidance and Information web page.