COVID-19 School Shutdown Q&A
April 1, 2020
Q: Do I need to provide distance learning opportunities to my students with disabilities during the COVID-19 shutdown of schools?
A: Schools should generally offer the same level of services to students with disabilities that they are providing to other children. “If an LEA continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. (34 CFR §§ 104.4, 104.33 (Section 504) and 28 CFR § 35.130 (Title II of the ADA))” according to a nine page Q&A by the Education Department https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2020/03/13/feds-weigh-in-special-ed-medicaid-coronavirus/27969/.
Q: Do I need to provide accessible materials for my students with disabilities during the COVID-19 school closures?
A: According to a Fact Sheet entitled “Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students” published by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, “Accessible technology may afford students, including students with disabilities, an opportunity to have access to high-quality educational instruction during an extended school closure, especially when continuing education must be provided through distance learning.” To access this fact sheet, go to Disability Scoop and click on Fact Sheet. https://www.disabilityscoop.com/2020/03/18/ed-department-offers-more-special-education-guidance-amid-covid-19/28000/
Q: How do I provide accessible materials for my students while they are involved in distance learning?
A: AIM-VA is currently accepting any curriculum-based material submitted in electronic form. As schools are providing packets of worksheets and reading material to students, these materials should also be submitted to AIM-VA. All materials will be returned in a PDF:Accessible format so eligible students can independently complete work assigned by their teachers on Chromebooks, iPads and computers. Paper packets, textbooks and reading books will also be accepted for conversion within the next two weeks as AIM-VA finalizes a remote conversion office to handle hard copy requests of 30 pages or less. The start date of this remote option will be announced via an AIM-VA Blast through DRM emails. The Department for the Blind and Vision Impaired (DBVI) is currently working as usual to provide Braille formats of needed hard copy and curriculum-based materials for eligible students ordered through the AIM-VA Ordering Portal.