USDE Holds COVID-19 Conference Call with K-12 Stakeholders (March 23, 2020)

On Friday, March 20, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education and other federal partners held a conference call today with K-12 education leaders representing all 50 states and two territories to discuss the Administration’s whole-of-government response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Those who attended the call included representatives from the National Association of State Boards of Education, National Governors Association, Council of Chief State School Officers, and elected officials, among many others. During the discussion, subject matter experts answered questions about the process for approval of statewide testing waivers, meal delivery for students during school closures, lengths of school closures due to the outbreak, requirements for local education agencies to provide services to students with disabilities, and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requirements during the outbreak.

Deputy Secretary Mitchell “Mick” Zais gave an overview of the Department of Education’s COVID-19 working group, which he leads, and encouraged participants to frequently visit the Department’s website, ed.gov/coronavirus, for updated materials.

Assistant Secretary Frank Brogan of the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education briefed participants on the Department’s letter on the subject, a webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the pandemic, and a fact sheet on how to protect students’ civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure.

Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Schultz of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services spoke about the Department’s guidance on how to provide services to students with disabilities during school closures throughout the outbreak. He announced clarifying information would be forthcoming in response to questions about implementation. Information on single points of contact for technical assistance to SEAs on best practices and models of instruction, accessibility, and data, will also be provided.

Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also participated in the call. Nancy Messonnier from the CDC discussed what schools, parents and communities can do while schools are closed, as well as what strategies school administrators and staff should consider when they begin to think about reopening.

For more information on all the efforts the Department is taking to address the COVID-19 national emergency, visit ed.gov/coronavirus

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the following websites: https://www.coronavirus.gov, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and https://www.usa.gov/coronavirus

For the Readout of the U.S. Department of Education’s COVID-19 Conference Call with K-12 Stakeholders on March 20, 2020, go to: https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/

USDE Provides Guidance Regarding Distance Learning and FAPE (March 21, 2020)

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced that the US Department of Education (USDE) has released new information clarifying that federal law should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities. This new resource from the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) explains that as a school district takes necessary steps to address the health, safety, and well-being of all its students and staff, educators can use distance learning opportunities to serve all students.

OCR Releases Webinar, Fact Sheet for Protecting Students’ Rights During COVID-19 Response (March 19, 2020)

The Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR’s) Center for Outreach, Prevention, Education, and Non-discrimination launched a short webinar on ensuring web accessibility for students with disabilities for schools utilizing online learning during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition, OCR published a fact sheet for education leaders on how to protect students’ civil rights as school leaders take steps to keep students safe and secure. These resources will assist education leaders in making distance learning accessible to students with disabilities and in preventing discrimination during the Coronavirus response effort.

OCR Short Webinar on Online Education and Website Accessibility

Fact Sheet on Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students.

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PDE’s Bureau of Special Ed. Releases Required IDEA Notice to LEAs (March 11, 2020)

On March 10, 2020, Carole L. Clancy, PDE Bureau of Special Education Director, released a Penn Link communiqué titled, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: State Regulations that Exceed Federal Requirements. According to Director Clancy, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended, requires the Pennsylvania Department of Education to identify to school entities and local educational agencies regulations, rules, and policies that are state-imposed requirements and not required by the federal special education statute and regulation (20 USC §1407 (a) (2)). This notice fulfills the requirement to distribute an updated list of state-imposed requirements that exceed IDEA.

Chapter 14 (22 Pa. Code Chapter 14)

§14.101           Developmental Delay (Relating to Definitions)

§14.105           (Relating to Personnel Qualifications and Caseload)

§14.106           (Relating to Access to Instructional Materials)

§14.108           (Relating to Access to Classrooms)

§14.121           (Relating to Child Find)

§14.123           (Relating to Evaluation)

§14.124           (Relating to Reevaluation)

§14.125           (Relating to Criteria for Specific Learning Disability)

§14.131           (Relating to Individualized Education Program)

§14.132           (Relating to Extended School Year)

§14.133           (Relating to Behavior Support)

§14.143           (Relating to Disciplinary Placements)

§14.144           (Relating to Facilities)

§14.145           (Relating to Least Restrictive Environment)

§14.146           (Relating to Age Range)

§14.152           (Relating to Child Find, Public Awareness and Screening)

§14.153           (Relating to Evaluation)

§14.154           (Relating to Individualized Education Program)

§14.155           (Relating to Range of Services)

§14.157           (Relating to Exit Criteria)

§14.158           (Relating to Data Collection)

§14.162(a)       (Relating to Impartial Due Process Hearing and Expedited Due Process Hearing)

Chapter 711 (22 Pa. Code Chapter 711)

§711.5             (Relating to Personnel)

§711.6             (Relating to Annual Report)

§711.8             (Relating to Education Records)

§711.21           (Relating to Child Find)

§711.22           (Relating to Reevaluation)

§711.24           (Relating to Evaluation)

§711.44           (Relating to Extended School Year)

§711.45           (Relating to Access to Instructional Materials)

§711.46           (Relating to Positive Behavior Support)

§711.61           (Relating to Suspension and Expulsion)

§711.62           (Relating to Due Process)

Those with questions regarding this information, are urged to contact Lisa Irgang at lirgang@pa.gov or 215.379.1023.

CDC Provides Interim Guidance for Administrators of US Childcare Programs and K-12 Schools to Help Them Plan, Prepare, and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019/COVID-19 (March 4, 2020)

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is providing interim guidance based on what is currently known about the transmission and severity of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). To access, please click here.

CDC will update this guidance as needed and as additional information becomes available. Please check the following CDC website periodically for updated interim guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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