The online tools that we ask students to use should maintain safety, respect privacy, provide equitable access, and enhance learning opportunities. How the tool is used is more important than which tool is used. Consider which tools will best support different learning environments (e.g. learning independently, with families, or in virtual spaces with classmates and teachers).
Consult this Technology Tools Checklist for help with technology tool decisions. See below for information concerning student data privacy and accessibility for all students.
Special education and related services expectations are in place for students with IEPs during school closures. 504 Plans must also be implemented. ODE understands there may be exceptional circumstances that could affect how a particular service is provided. We must connect with each other to innovate, share, and develop new solutions to support students and families to ensure that all students benefit from Distance Learning For All.
Under the circumstances of school closures due to the current COVID-19 outbreak, the US Department of Education released a webinar and fact sheet related to protecting students’ civil rights during the COVID-19 public health emergency and additional Questions and Answers. The Department makes clear that – when educational opportunities continue to be provided during a school closure – states, districts, and schools “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 developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504.”
National Center on Accessible Educational Materials: Is it Accessible?
US Department of Education: FAPE
While ODE recognizes the challenges associated with providing ongoing learning opportunities in the midst of this outbreak, it is essential that districts, schools, and programs find creative ways to do so. In recent guidance covering the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), the US Department of Education (ED) affirmed both the critical need and possibility to continue supporting students’ learning in this time:
ED signals that while districts are expected to provide FAPE, flexibility may be needed in terms of how districts meet students’ individual needs.
Some educators, however, have been reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. Rather, school systems must make local decisions that take into consideration the health, safety, and well-being of all their students and staff.
To be clear: ensuring compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act should not prevent any school from offering educational programs through distance learning.
School districts must provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with IEPs and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction, and related services to these students.