The MLO Minute: By, Heather Hulse, J.D., M.S., M.A. and Dennis McAndrews, Esq. —
It would be an extreme understatement to say that the current pandemic has required extraordinary levels of flexibility, creativity, patience, and grit on the part of families, children, and educators. This is especially true with respect to children with disabilities who receive instruction pursuant to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or a 504 Service Plan and their families, as these children with disabilities and their families frequently confront barriers to meaningful education even in the best of circumstances. At the present time, many families do not know from day-to-day whether they will be receiving in-person instruction, virtual instruction, or some hybrid program. Each type of learning situation requires sufficient information, insights, planning, and careful implementation of every form of learning.
With the rollout of multiple vaccines over the next several months to prevent individuals from contracting COVID, it is possible that greater In-person instruction will occur in the months ahead, but no vaccine will be a magic bullet, and continued vigilance and preventative measures against additional outbreaks will be required well into 2021. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have recently issued extremely detailed and helpful checklists for parents in planning for both In-person and virtual forms of instruction.
We would encourage families of children with disabilities to carefully review and utilize these checklists. By way of example, the checklist for Planning for In-Person Classes reminds parents of symptoms to look for in their children, hygiene practices to encourage, the requirement of mask wearing, and considerations of social distancing. The guidelines also provide an array of helpful insights to parents in planning for transportation, identifying the means by which IEPs or 504 Plans will be implemented and services provided, and identifying how issues related to the pandemic and essential prevention activities will be incorporated into the school’s daily programming.
These Guidelines can be found by clicking here, and please do not hesitate to reach out to our office for guidance with regard to special education issues during the pandemic. Our initial consultations are free, and the great majority of our cases are handled without charge to parents. Please feel free to contact our office if you believe your child is not receiving the appropriate educational services they need.