Coronavirus Resources for Schools

Special Considerations for Students with Exceptional Needs Related to School Closures Due to COVID-19

Contains resources from school districts and public health agencies.

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March 2020 {SR306236} CLIENT NEWS BRIEF As the information contained herein is necessarily general, its application to a particular set of facts and circumstances may vary. For this reason, this News Brief does not constitute legal advice. We recommend that you consult with your counsel prior to acting on the information contained herein. © 2020 Lozano Smith April 2020 Number 23 Frequently Asked Questions – Part 3 Background The following information expands on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) issued on March 12, 2020 and March 25, 2020, which provided general guidance for K-12 school districts in responding to the needs of students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 9, 2020, the California Department of Education (CDE) released new guidance titled "COVID-19 School Closures and Services to Students with Disabilities" to address additional questions CDE received following its March 20, 2020 guidance. As a means of providing general guidance to LEAs, this information is current through April 9, 2020, but is subject to change in light of this rapidly evolving situation. We recommend consulting with a Lozano Smith special education attorney or your legal counsel before taking action based on these FAQs. 1. Q: Must all Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) be amended to reflect the change to distance learning? A: Generally, no. However, this does not constitute an exemption from developing IEP amendments entirely. In its April 9, 2020 guidance, the CDE states that an IEP amendment is not necessary for every student with an IEP. Because schools are physically closed, educational services must now be provided through alternative options such as distance learning. The CDE provides that it is not necessary to amend an IEP solely to reflect that the student's previously-agreed upon services are now being provided away from the school. CDE quotes guidance from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) which allows flexibility for schools that may not be able to provide all services in the same manner that they were provided before school closures. Guidance from both CDE and OSEP focus on the methods and location of providing service and operate under the assumption that a student's current IEP services can remain the same despite school closures. This means that if a student is able to receive agreed-upon IEP services through distance learning, an IEP amendment would not be necessary. According to the CDE, the "IEP that was in effect at the time of the physical school closure Sabrina Buendia Associate Sacramento Office sbuendia@lozanosmith.com Sarah L. Garcia Partner Walnut Creek & Los Angeles Offices sgarcia@lozanosmith.com April 2020 Number 23 Special Considerations for Students with Exceptional Needs Related to School Closures Due to COVID-19

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