The 2020-21 school year has already seen unprecedented expectations placed on school district administrators and educators nationwide – a trend which will likely continue until the pandemic is managed.
Over the summer, state education agencies required local school districts to create “re-entry plans” to outline how students can safely and equitably return to school in multiple learning environments. These plans are often chock full of implementation supports for the majority of students, but offer little to no support on the unique needs of students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). In some states, boards of health have offered specific considerations for students with disabilities. However, in many others, that may not be the case.
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The reality is that teachers and school leaders are not doctors or scientists, and they should not be expected to have expertise in the spread of infectious diseases. In the absence of specific guidance supporting the implementation of special education during reentry, it is important to be making informed decisions on the nuances specific to providing students with IEPs a free and appropriate education. Hence, it is important that districts create COVID-19 Special Education Steering Committees.