Special education students face unique challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. From questions about individualized education programs (IEPs) to specialized services, families are grasping for answers. The team at NAVLAW continues to be here to support the community by keeping you informed.
In guidance updated by the California Department of Education, the state addresses some of the concerns. Their new information revolves around IEPs and the obligations of local educational agencies (LEAs) to provide services contained in existing IEP documents.
The most recent guidance, dated April 9, 2020 states that an “IEP that was in effect at the time of physical school closure remains in effect, and LEAs should, to the greatest extent possible, continue to provide the services called for in those IEPs in alternative ways.” Those services may be conducted away from school, and an LEA does not need parental consent to provide them from distance. If a student has specific needs that require extraordinary accommodations in a time of social distancing, “amending the IEP to reflect the change to distance learning might be necessary and/or appropriate.” In those circumstances, the LEA may convene a new IEP meeting, and parents “may request an IEP meeting or propose an IEP amendment.” Parents with questions about their child’s IEP should “reach out to their school or district office to have a conversation about the impact of the pandemic on their student’s education.”
For students with in-person needs, LEAs may provide those services in “exceptional situations.” Service providers should follow local guidance related to physical distancing and take all appropriate care when entering a student’s home, or otherwise meeting in person. Providers may be considered essential, and “therefore, if an individualized determination is made that a student needs services or supports in-person to maintain their mental/physical health and safety for the purpose of supporting the student in accessing the alternative options for learning being offered (e.g. distance learning), an LEA is not necessarily precluded from providing that service by Governor Newsom’s stay at home order.”
More information is available from the CDE here. If you have specific questions about your families situation, and would like to discuss the options for your student’s needs, please fill out our intake form, and a member of our team will be in touch to set up a phone or video meeting.