Providing Services to Students with Disabilities During COVID-19
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued interim guidance to help administrators of K–12 schools and childcare programs create mitigation strategies to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. By helping childcare programs, schools, and their partners understand how to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 within their communities and facilities, administrators can help flatten the curve. In addition to mitigation planning, this guidance includes considerations to help administrators plan for the continuity of teaching and learning. Finally, this guidance includes a decision tree to help schools and facilities determine which mitigation plan is best in three scenarios: all schools regardless of community spread, no community spread, and minimal to moderate or substantial community spread.
Department of Education Guidance
The Department of Education (DoE) has also created a Questions and Answers document outlining the state’s responsibilities to students with disabilities, their families, and the staff serving these children. The document does not impose any additional requirements beyond those already included in applicable laws and regulations. The guidance stresses that if schools continue to provide educational opportunities during school closures to the general population, they must ensure equal access to students with disabilities.
Questions answered in this document include:
- Are schools required to continue to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities during school closures related to COVID-19?
- If a child with a disability is absent for an extended period of time because they are infected with COVID-19 and the schools remain open, is the local education authority (LEA) responsible for providing special education and related services?
- May an Individualized Education Plan (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?
For specific information about an individual school contact the Local Independent School District (ISD) or Open Enrollment Charter School. Additionally, updated information can be found on the COVID-19 pages of both the Texas Education Agency’s or the U.S. Department of Education’s websites.
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