As the United States works to control the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country have been severely affected by widespread school closures and significant disruptions to K-12 schooling. As a result, the entire education sector is working to provide options and guidance for continuing education during the time school buildings are closed to students. Students with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to the disruptions caused by the pandemic due to the reliance of many students on in-student supports that are difficult to reproduce virtually. School leaders, educators, and parents/caregivers are facing a unique set of challenges that will require creativity, flexibility, and dedication to navigate during this unprecedented situation.
As the entities that oversee charter schools, charter authorizers play a critical role in supporting schools and holding them accountable for continuing to provide strong programming and services for all students, including those with disabilities. This document seeks to build on recent COVID-19 guidance offered by the U.S. Department of Education and respond to questions that authorizers are encountering regarding how the charter schools they oversee can and should provide education and support for students with disabilities during the current health crisis. The answers below were largely prompted by questions we received during a series of webinars we co-hosted with the National Association of Charter School Authorizers. Direct service providers seeking guidance will find more specific information in our FAQ for schools and practitioners.