News & Publications

Additional Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education

Posted on March 23, 2020

FERPA and Virtual Learning Related Resources

The Student Privacy Policy Office has provided links to resources that address distance learning and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). That listing of resources can be found here.

Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities 

On March 21, 2020, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published a supplemental fact sheet to previous guidance given.

OCR and OSERS addressed a concern that some in the educational community had raised that because it would be so difficult to serve children with disabilities under the law, they should consider not providing any educational services to any students. They wrote, “To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance instruction.”

OCR and OSERS reiterated that school districts must provide a free appropriate public education consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those providing the education. They recognized that schools may not be able to provide all services identified in an IEP as they typically would and that some services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy or tactile sign language, would be difficult to provide online. But they also reminded school districts that federal disability law allows flexibility when determining how to meet the needs of the individual student.

Importantly, OCR and OSERS also provided guidance on IDEA timelines. For the first time, OCR and OSERS addressed changes to a student’s IEP, and wrote, “Most importantly, in making changes to a child’s IEP after the annual IEP Team meeting, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the parent of a child with a disability and the public agency may agree to not convene an IEP Team meeting for the purposes of making those changes, and instead develop a written document to amend or modify the child’s current IEP. 34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(4)(i).”

The supplemental fact sheet may be found here.

Previous Guidance can be found at Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students (March 16, 2020); OCR Short Webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility Webinar (Length: 00:07:08) (March 16, 2020); Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Outbreak (March 12, 2020); Fact Sheet: Impact of COVID-19 on Assessments and Accountability under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (March 12, 2020); and Letter to Education Leaders on Preventing and Addressing potential discrimination associated with COVID-19.

As a reminder, issues related to COVID-19 are fluid and subject to rapid change. Additional information about Coronavirus and the State’s response can be found here.

This communication is intended as general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If legal advice is required, please contact any of our attorneys on our cell phone, at (614) 222-8686, or via email.