In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s (the Department) release of the Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities, Lauren Morando Rhim, co-founder and executive director of the National Center for Special Education in Charter Schools (the Center) issued the following statement:
“The Center is extremely pleased the Department has clarified for states, districts and schools that the federal disability law provides sufficient flexibility to ensure all students, including students with disabilities, can benefit from remote education as communities determine the best approach to instruction during the COVID-19 crisis. In our work with charter schools, we are aware of many, including those who operate as their own local education agencies, who are already working to provide distance instruction in partnership with families while finding creative and innovative ways to ensure students and teachers can engage in teaching and learning. While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has specific requirements, including important timelines, the Department has made clear that sufficient flexibility exists for schools to extend those timelines when needed while concurrently working with families to make good decisions that support students.
It takes both good planning and sufficient resources for schools and districts to pivot quickly and provide remote education so students do not experience huge learning lags. With clear guidance now in place for schools to identify paths forward, we hope Congress will step up and focus on providing additional funding to support innovative approaches to educating all students, including students with disabilities.”