Federal Guidance on Supporting Students with Disabilities

As school closures continue throughout Region 1 states (and nationwide), many states and districts have had questions about how best to support students with disabilities.To support the states we work with, we have pulled together key information and resources from the U.S. Department of Education on the provision of services to students with disabilities. We will continue to provide updates here as new guidance is released. If you have a question or are looking for support, contact us at Region 1 Comprehensive Center. If you are based outside of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire or Vermont, visit the Comprehensive Center Network to find the center that supports states in your region.

IDEA, Section 504, Title II and COVID-19

In this updated guidance document, Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities, the U.S. Department of Education provides clarification on the requirement to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) during school closures. In particular the document notes that “ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction.”

In addition, the Department’s Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak provides guidance to states on:

  • Implementing Part B of the IDEA and Section 504, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II), during a COVID-19 outbreak, including questions about Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), IEP modifications due to changes in placement, and creating and implementing IEP contingency plans
  • IDEA Part C and COVID-19, including questions about the provision of services by lead state agencies and early intervening services (EIS) programs when one or both parties’ offices are closed or unable to support students with disabilities
  • The use of IDEA Part B and Part C funds to disseminate health and COVID-19 information

Online Learning and Website Accessibility

To help address questions about digital accessibility for students with disabilities participating in online learning, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights has released a short webinar: Online Education and Website Accessibility