NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT GUIDANCE ON REOPENING SCHOOLS
The New York State Education Department (NYSED) has released “Guidance to Reopen New York State Schools”, to help schools and school districts develop plans for the 2020-2021 school year. All schools and school districts are required to submit their Reopening Plans to NYSED by July 31, 2020.
Important provisions of the NYSED Guidance include:
- Health and Safety
- Flexible School Schedules
- Attendance and Chronic Absenteeism
- Technology and Connectivity
- Social-Emotional Well-Being
- Special Education
When schools reopen, students with disabilities will remain entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and the providers of special education services. NYSED's Guidance directed schools and school districts to consider in-person services a priority for high needs students with disabilities, whenever possible. However, schools and school districts must consider contingency plans, developed by the Committee on Special Education (CSE), to address remote learning needs, in the event of intermittent or extended school closures.
Whether school is remote or in-person, the school district must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s IEP.
Reopening plans must ensure meaningful parental engagement regarding the provision of services to that family’s child.
Reopening plans must also ensure access to the necessary accommodations, modifications, supplementary aids and services and technology (including assistive technology), to meet the unique disability related needs of students.
Many students have lost skills due to pandemic school closures. CSEs must make individualized determinations regarding whether, and to what extent, compensatory services are to be provided once school reopens, and how they may continue if school closes.
If you have questions about the state Guidance, a particular District's reopening plan, or how these issues affect students with disabilities, please contact Nassau Suffolk Law Services' Education and Disability Rights Project at (516) 292-8100.