Education, Justice Depts Issue Fact Sheet on Supporting Students at Risk of Self Harm During COVID-19 Crisis

ACDL News, Uncategorized

In recognition of World Mental Health Day, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice jointly issued a fact sheet to support students with mental health disabilities, their families, and their schools in the era of COVID-19.

The Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) recognizes the disproportionate impact that the pandemic has had on students with disabilities and their families. Each day, our office hears from Arizona’s students about the challenges they face navigating their education. COVID-19 has only added to the difficulties these students face in receiving access to school, appropriate educational services, and necessary accommodations and modifications.

The guidance, issued in conjunction with the Departments’ recognition of World Mental Health Day, October 10, underscores the importance of supporting students with mental health disabilities who may be at risk of self-harm. The guidance provides information about Federal civil rights laws that protect students with mental health disabilities and includes scenarios that illustrate when either Department might investigate whether a violation of those laws has occurred. It also gives schools and postsecondary institutions a list of action steps to create a school environment that is responsive to students with mental health disabilities and provides educational and crisis resources for students, families, and educators. To find out more about the guidance or the ADA, visit ada.gov or call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 1-800-514-0301 or 1-800-514-0383 (TDD).

The toll the pandemic has had on Arizona’s children with disabilities and their caregivers is immense. ACDL appreciates the guidance being shared by these federal agencies in light of this difficult reality.