COVID-19 and Special Education
Families are learning to live with new roles and routines while children, youth and young adults are learning from home or in hybrid settings. More recently, students may be returning to school in adapted classroom settings. Schools are working to provide virtual and other distance learning options and to safely accommodate returning students. All this is even more challenging for students with disabilities who receive special education and related services and who have a right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
FFF hosted attorney Maria Blaeuer for an October 21, 2020 webinar reviewing the status of special education during the pandemic, recording HERE.
On February 23, 2021, FFF Director Kelly Henderson presented a Virginia Family Network Lunch and Learn session and reviewed Governor Northam’s order to school divisions as well as the latest on special education compensatory and recovery services, recording HERE.
Here are several guidance documents that may be helpful to families and educators:
- Federal guidance from the US Department of Education “Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak. March 2020”. Find guidance HERE.
- March 21, 2020 Supplemental Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities. Find fact sheet HERE.
- September 28, 2020 Office of Special Education Programs Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B provision of services in the current COVID-19 environment. Find Q & A HERE.
- The Family Network on Disability in Florida created a number of helpful infographics for families that explain federal guidance related to COVID-19, HERE.
- June 22, 2020 Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B dispute resolution procedures in the current COVID-19 environment. This applies to students pre-school and K-12.
- June 22, 2020 Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C dispute resolution procedures in the current COVID-19 environment. This applies to infants and toddlers receiving early intervention services.
- July 7, 2020 Questions and Answers (Q&A) documents in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C evaluation and assessment timelines in the current COVID-19 environment. This applies to infants and toddlers who may be eligible for early intervention services.
- Sept. 28, 2020- Implementation of IDEA Provision of Services in the Current COVID-19 Environment Q&A Document for preschool and school age (Part B) addresses inquiries concerning implementation of IDEA provision of service in the current COVID-19 environment.
- Oct. 21, 2020- Implementation of IDEA Provision of Services in the Current COVID-19 Environment Q&A Document for infants and toddlers (Part C)
- February 2021, the US Department of Education publishes the ED COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools
- February 22, 2021, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education issued a letter clarifying new options for states to administer and report State student assessment and other accountability measures.
- April 9, 2021 the US Department of Education published COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students’ Needs.
- May 13, 2021, the US Office of Civil Rights released Questions and Answers on Civil Rights and School Reopening in the COVID-19 Environment.
- July 26, 2021, the US Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services released Long COVID under Section 504 and the IDEA:
A Resource to Support Children, Students, Educators, Schools, Service Providers, and Families.
At the state level, on March 23 the Virginia Department of Education released a Superintendent’s Memo on Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities, HERE.
A broader VDOE education FAQ on a variety of topics and areas is found HERE.
An April 2020 Joint statement from the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) on educational stability for children and youth in foster care during school closures due to COVID-19 can be found HERE.
As of August 2020, VDOE has compiled a Sustaining Inclusive Practices for Virtual Learning for Students with Disabilities resource HERE.
VDOE has issued Considerations for COVID Recovery Services for Students with Disabilities to guide school administrators and highlights information related to compliance, documentation and progress monitoring, and IEP Team considerations that are necessary in order to make decisions about and address requests for COVID recovery services for students with disabilities, HERE.
VDOE has shared a table of Special Education Students After COVID 19 – Key Considerations HERE.
Superintendent’s Memo #316-20, December 4, 2020, updates the Emergency Guidelines for Locally Awarded Verified Credits HERE.
Fairfax County SEPTA hosted Hank Millward of the Virginia Department of Education on February 16, 2021 to discuss recovery services, compensatory services and extended school year services. Find the recording of that presentation HERE.
Virtual IEP meeting resources from the Center for Parent Information and Resources HERE.