Newsroom Article

Coronavirus and Schools: Variation on a Letter to Parents on Special Education During the Closure


Posted on in Press Releases and Announcements

Please read the attached letter that Berks IU put together regarding the virtual instruction. What are your thoughts?

The attached letter is a simplified version of many letters that schools are proposing to send to parents of students with disabilities during the pandemic-related school closure. This letter, like the more detailed model letter we offered last week, includes the elements that we consider essential in any such letter, in that it—

  1. Notifies parents of exactly what the LEA is proposing to do to provide services;
  2. Clarifies that these services are a temporary change that will be in effect only during the closure;
  3. Clarifies that the existing IEP of the student will resume in full effect once school reopens;
  4. Invites parents to remain in touch with members of the IEP team if they have concerns or questions; and
  5. Advises parents that IEP teams will convene once school reopens to consider whether some form of additional, or “compensatory,” services might be needed to address the effects of the closure on the student

The only missing element in this letter is notice of procedural safeguards (in our proposed letter, we referred the parent to the district or IU website to access the safeguards notice). 

The law governing special education is murky on a good day. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all improvising somewhat in an effort to come as close to meeting the procedural and substantive expectations of the IDEA as the circumstances will allow.   

This letter is a reasonable effort at providing the “notice” now mandated by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in SB 751. It falls far short of the “prior written notice” actually required under the IDEA, but again, we are all struggling with the battle between the possible and the expected right now.