Children with Disabilities During COVID-19 Outbreak



On March 12, 2020 the US Department of Education published guidelines for serving children with disabilities during the school closures associated with COVID-19.


This is a very important document, which answers the many questions we all have. It states that if schools are closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 but the district chooses to offer long-distance instruction to its students, then students with disabilities are entitled to equal access. They are also entitled to receive services defined in their IEPs to the "greatest extent possible."


School closures affect all children, but children with disabilities are at risk of regressing without the services they are entitled to under their IEPs. They also have a harder time taking advantage of any long-distance learning opportunities that might be offered by their districts. For children with more severe disabilities, long-distance education might not be possible. Many children with disabilities also will not benefit from services offered in an on-line format.


If your child is one of the children who cannot benefit from online instruction and services, you need to bring it up with your district, preferably before the school closure occurs. You can make a contingency plan with the district for what your child can access during the school closure and how. There is also an option for the district to provide compensatory services once the schools re-open.


While it is not always possible, if schools in your area are still open, you should reach out to your team chair, inclusion facilitator, or another contact person to have this discussion.


Meanwhile, you can learn about your child's rights during school closures related to COVID-19 by following this link.


Stay healthy, safe and calm everyone!