California Special Education Guidance for COVID-19
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
Governor Newsom announced last month that California public school campuses will remain closed during the remainder of the school year for traditional instruction. School districts are now considering and implementing alternative means of educating students during the COVID-19 emergency.
At about the time the Governor made his announcement regarding school closures, the California Department of Education (CDE) issued special education guidance for COVID-19. The CDE plans to share best practices in coming weeks.
The CDE's guidance notes that the federal government has not waived the federal requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This means that until and unless the federal government waives these requirements, school districts are, to the maximum extent possible, meet the IDEA’s requirements, including mandated timelines.
California schools will receive funding to continue to provide students educational opportunities as is feasible, through distance learning and independent studies, among other options.
If a school district continues to provide educational opportunities to general education students, the school district “must ensure that students with disabilities have access to comparable opportunities appropriately tailored to the individualized needs of each child to ensure meaningful access, as determined through the IEP process to the extent feasible.”
The CDE has urged school districts to consider distance learning as means of educating students during the pandemic. Recognizing that not all families have Internet access to enable online distance learning, the CDE has included information in its guidance that several Internet service providers now offer low-cost, affordable home Internet for qualifying low-income households to enable them to be informed during the COVID-19 emergency.
School districts can also consider in-home delivery of services, meeting with individual students at school sites and at other locations to deliver instruction and other services. The CDE also mentions in their guidance the possibility of instruction being provided by telephone.
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