Coronavirus - Education - Frequently Asked Questions
How Disability Rights California Can Help You
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Special Education: Frequently Asked Questions
*This page will be updated as more information is made available
Can my child get special education services if my school is closed because of Coronavirus?
If your school is providing education services or resources (i.e. work packets, access to e-books or audio books, or online, telephone, or distance learning) the school must make sure that students with disabilities have equal access to those services or resources.
Equal access may include accommodations and modifications, such as making sure materials are available in an accessible format, providing school-purchased devices and assistive technology, assigning reduced assignments, or modifying the curriculum. Equal access may also include individualized special education instruction and related services, including speech, occupational therapy and behavior supports.
How services are provided must consider the individual and unique needs of your child. For some students, telephone or online/video conferencing instruction or services may work for them. Services may be provided at a school site or in the home, depending on the needs of your child, and health of other students and staff.
You can request an emergency Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting to discuss an interim IEP to discuss what accommodations, modifications, or services could be put in place during the closure. You can ask that this IEP be held on the telephone or by online videoconference.
My child’s school is completely shut down and/or is refusing to provide any special education services. What can I do?
If your school is not providing special education services and during a school closure, your child may be entitled to compensatory education services to make up for missed school services. Keep a log of the special education or 504 plan services your child has missed as a result of the school closure and request an IEP or 504 plan meeting to discuss compensatory services. You can use this sample log to keep track of the services that your child has received/not received.
Can my child receive special education services if I need to keep them out of school because they are sick or are at high risk of serious illness?
You may decide to keep your child out of school for an extended period of time because they are sick or are in a high-risk group. In this situation, your child may be entitled to home and hospital instruction—services provided to the child at home, in a hospital or other healthcare setting. If your child is hospitalized, the school district where the hospital is located, is responsible for providing home and hospital instructions.
To get home and hospital services, you should notify the school right away that your child will be absent for an extended period of time. The school district will have five days to decide whether they will provide individualized instruction. You may wish to provide a doctor’s note that supports your child’s need for home and hospital instruction.
School districts can provide as little as five hours per week of home and hospital instruction. If you do not feel this will be enough, you should call an IEP meeting as soon as possible to discuss any additional special education instruction and services your child needs.
I have received notice the school district will only provide limited services and support during the school closure. What can I do?
School districts are sending out different notices to parents about special education services during the school closures. Some examples of these notices include Prior Written Notices, Distance Learning Plans, or Emergency Learning plans. Some school districts are holding IEP meetings by phone or video conference and sending out Administrative IEPs or IEP Amendments.
Even if you agree with the services offered by the school district during the school closure, it is important to protect your child’s existing IEP for when the schools reopen. You have the right to provide “limited consent” to a temporary plan. You can agree to implement the temporary plan offered by the school district, without waiving your child’s IEP or your child’s right to compensatory services. You can use this sample letter to your school district to provide “limited consent” to a temporary educational plan.
If you have received a notice from the school district and you disagree with any of the services and supports the school district is offering, you the right to request an IEP meeting. The school district must provide a meeting within 30 days.
What if I disagree with the school district because they are not providing my child with services, or not providing enough services and support during a school closure?
You have the right to file a complaint or request a due process hearing if you do not agree with the school district regarding educational supports for your child. See Chapter 6 of the Special Education Rights and Responsibilities manual for more details on how to file a complaint.