COVID Related School Closings and Instruction for Children with Disabilities

COVID-19 has changed the school landscape including how special education is administered. Both public and private schools across the world have had a variety of responses including moving to online learning or closing for remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. Check with your local education agency (LEA) or state department of education for the current status of your school.

To help during this transition, we encourage you to:

  • create a routine for your family
  • designate learning areas in the home
  • schedule breaks and play
  • be flexible

Do not expect your child to work for 8 hours a day. This is not a normal situation and school atmosphere. Missed skills will most likely be repeated at the beginning of the next school year.

You will need to check with your school to see if their current grade will be repeated or if your child will move to the next grade.

Reach out to teachers and therapists for tips on speech, physical therapy, occupational therapy or any other unique services they may have participated in during the school year.

If you have an IEP meeting, ask if it is still on schedule and if it can be conducted virtually.

The resources below cover preschool, elementary and secondary school education for children with disabilities from the United States States Department of Education.

You’ll also find a questions and answer section that outlines the states’ responsibilities to infants, toddlers, children with disabilities and staff serving these children during COVID-19. Topics covered include:

  • Is an LEA required to continue to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by a COVID-19 outbreak?
  • Must an LEA provide special education and related services to a child with a disability who is absent for an extended period of time because the child is infected with COVID-19, while the schools remain open?
  • What services must an LEA provide if a public school for children with disabilities is selectively closed due to the possibility of severe complications from a COVID-19 outbreak?
  • If a child with a disability at high risk of severe medical complications is excluded from school during an outbreak of COVID-19 and the child’s school remains open, is the exclusion considered a change in educational placement subject to the protections of 34 CFR §§ 300.115 and 300.116 and 34 CFR §§ 104.35 and 104.36.
  • May an IEP Team consider a distance learning plan in a child’s IEP as a contingency plan in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak that requires the school’s closure?
  • What activities other than special education and related services may and may not be provided with IDEA Part B funds both prior to and during a COVID-19 outbreak?
  • Must a state lead agency continue to provide early intervention services to infants and toddlers with disabilities during a COVID-19 outbreak if the offices are closed?
  • What should a state lead agency or EIS program provider do to provide Part C services if its offices are open, but it cannot provide services in accordance with an infant’s or toddler’s IFSP during a COVID-19 outbreak?
  • What activities other than service provision may and may not be provided with IDEA Part C funds both prior to and during a potential COVID-19 outbreak?

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out using the contact form on the website.

Sources & Additional Resources:

Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities

Questions and answers on providing services to children with disabilities during the coronavirus disease 

Educating Children With Disabilities Through Online Learning