Guidance for Students with Disabilities

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction recently published a Department of Education Q&A in response to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), which has issued interim guidance to help administrators of public and private childcare programs and K–12 schools plan for and prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff. The following partial highlights were selected from that informal Q&A guidance.  Click here for the completed, original document.


When a school closes and ALL students stay home.

  • And the district is not providing any educational services to the general student population during the closure, then there is not a requirement to provide special education services during the same time period. Schools and districts should consider special education needs on a case-by-case basis during the closure to address health and safety needs of students with disabilities.
  • And the district continues providing education opportunities to students during the closure, the district must also provide the provision of special education and related services, too, as part of a comprehensive plan. This requirement ensures students with and without disabilities are treated equitably and is required by federal and state anti-discrimination laws, including Title II of the ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the IDEA.
  • If a public school for children with disabilities is closed solely because the children are at high risk of severe illness and deathbut the rest of the district is open and providing services… then the public school must determine how best to provide special education and related services and whether each dismissed child could benefit from online or virtual instruction, instructional telephone calls, and other curriculum-based instructional activities, to the extent available.

When a school stays open, but the student with disabilities stays home.

  • If an individual student eligible to receive special education and related services is absent for an extended period of time because of a COVID-19 infection or the potential for a COVID-19 infection, and the school remains open, then the IEP Team must determine whether the student is available for instruction and could benefit from homebound services such as instructional telephone calls, homework packets, Internet-based lessons, and other distance-based learning approaches, to the extent available.
  • If the exclusion from school is a temporary emergency measure (generally 10 consecutive school days or less), this is not considered a change in placement.

little baby girl with Down Syndrome on soft cream colored blanket with multicolored background

Early Intervention Services

When a state lead agency’s office is closed.

  • If the offices of the state lead agency or the EIS program or provider are closed, then Part C services would not need to be provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families during that period of time.

When a state lead agency’s office is open.

  • If the lead agency’s offices are open but the offices of the EIS program or provider in a specific geographical area are closed due to public health and safety concerns as a result of a COVID-19 outbreak in that area, the EIS program or provider would not be required to provide services during the closure.
  • If the offices remain open, but Part C services cannot be provided in a particular location (such as in the child’s home), by a particular EIS provider, or to a particular child who is infected with COVID-19, then the lead agency must ensure the continuity of services, on a case-by-case basis and consistent with protecting the health and safety of the student and those providing services to the student.

Learn More

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources

OSPI School Closure FAQ

Novel Coronavirus in K-12: A Parent’s Guide


Printable Bulletin (PDF)

Thumbnail image of printable bulletin on OSPI closure guidance.


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