US ED reaffirms application of IDEA in pandemic

Leaders of offices for special education wrote to state and local educators about maintaining that services should be provided.

In a press release entitled "New Guidance Reaffirms Importance of Full Implementation of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic," the United States Department of Education declared that "[r]egardless of the COVID-19 pandemic or the mode of instruction, children with disabilities are entitled to receive a free, appropriate, public education." In a letter to state and local education agencies a well as other stakeholders, Katherine Neas and David Cantrell of the Office of Special Education and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, respectively, sought to "clarify expectations and requirements for implementing IDEA in light of the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic."

In general, the ED officials argued that children and youths with disabilities should continue to receive special education services even during the pandemic. They expressly state that ED cannot and will not issue waivers of the fundamental aspects of the US Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As noted in a separate document, the array of services covered by IDEA includes "child find" responsibilities, which should still be implemented, especially in light of students who may not return to school after previous periods of time when schools were closed.

The documents are dated 24 August 2021. They are available via the following links.