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 guidance documents that may be helpful to families and educators:

At the state level, on March 23, 2020 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 VDOE FAQ on Special Education and Student Services was updated October 15, 2020. Find the Frequently Asked Questions 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.

Virginia DOE issued New Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools and Expiration of the Public Health Order on Masks on July 21, 2021, HERE. 

Virtual IEP meeting resources from the Center for Parent Information and Resources HERE.