CORONAVIRUS, SCHOOL CLOSINGS, AND SPECIAL EDUCATION
Updated March 11, 2020
Due to the coronavirus, some schools are closing or planning to close. What happens if school closes? It depends.
Many states and school districts already have detailed plans for coronavirus or are in the process of creating them. In similar situations, like hurricanes, many schools have used virtual learning. But plans may vary a lot, so you’ll need to check with your school.Here’s a map of school closures around the country. (For military families, here’s a list of school closures from the Department of Defense.)
If your child gets special education, you may wonder what happens with your child’s services if there’s no school, or if your child needs to stay home for a while. Again, it depends.
Let’s say a school closes because of an emergency and decides that no students will be taught. In that case, there are typically no special education services. That’s because there’s no general education happening either.
It’s a different story if the school closes but continues education through virtual learning. In that case, the law requires the school to continue giving services, even if they have to adapt them.
There’s another scenario to think about. What if a child with an IEP gets sick and has to stay home, while the school remains open? It depends.
If your child is ill enough to have to stay home for a long period of time and needs homebound instruction, the IEP team needs to meet to figure out how to continue classes and provide instruction. To make sure kids get services, talk to the 504 or IEP team at school.
To learn more about special education rights, review this guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on H1N1, another virus. You can also read about the challenge of providing special education when there’s an emergency.