The COVID-19 pandemic has made education more challenging than ever. Schools are re-opening this year in either a hybrid or remote learning plan. In this pandemic, with all the rules on socially distancing and COVID-19 protocols, all involved face unprecedented uncertainty and stress.
Yet the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on students with learning or emotional disabilities. Remote or hybrid instruction leaves many with inappropriate programming or services, the inability to access instruction and a feeling of isolation. Parents may feel too overwhelmed to assist and often lack the training to do so.
In these times, parent advocacy is more important than ever. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that each student with a disability receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The U.S. Department of Education has confirmed the entitlement to a FAPE during the COVID-19 emergency. The New York State Education Department has stated that students with disabilities must receive continuity of learning and, to the greatest extent possible, the special education and related services identified in the student’s individualized education program (IEP).