On Saturday, March 21, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education released supplementary guidance for schools during widespread school closures as a result of COVID-19. This new guidance document clarifies that federal law protecting students with disabilities should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. The document goes on to encourage schools to collaborate creatively with parents to continue to meet the needs of students with disabilities and provides resources and links to technical assistance to support schools as they continue to serve all students during school closures.
The Arizona Center for Disability Law (ACDL) applauds this clarification from the U.S. Department of Education and encourages all Arizona schools and families to work together to think outside the box when it comes to delivering vital special education and related services to students with disabilities during this unprecedented time. ACDL also reiterates its view that whether or not schools are closed for an extended period of time, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states and school districts to provide special education and related services to students with disabilities.
ACDL urges the U.S. Department of Education and the Arizona Department of Education to clarify to schools and families that there is an ongoing responsibility for schools to provide students with disabilities with a free appropriate public education during school closures.
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