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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Special Education

Last Updated On: 4/16/2020 12:23:25 AM

Overview

As a result of COVID-19, all West Virginia schools are closed, and students in most counties are participating in distance learning.  The current closure period runs through April 30, 2020.   During this period of learning remotely, you may have questions about your child’s education and their IEP or 504 plans. 

Are schools still responsible for the educational needs of students with an IEP or 504 plan?

Schools are required to provide individuals with disabilities access to participation and learning opportunities equal to those without special needs.  Schools should provide special education and related services in accordance with the child’s IEP or 504 Plan.   School districts are still required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities.  Future compensatory educational services may also be appropriate for some students. 

Does the work my child’s teacher sent home to complete have to be designed to meet my child’s needs?

Yes.  Any schoolwork that the child receives should be specially designed for your child and comply their IEP or 504 plan. 

Will my child still receive the related services that they receive at school?

The county is still responsible for providing related services during distance learning.  However, some related services may be difficult to provide.  Parents should keep track of what services are being provided, how the service is provided, and how often the service is provided.

How will my child receive related services such as Physical Therapy (PT), Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech, and Counseling?

Some therapies and services may be provided through telephone or virtual methods, when possible.  Some therapies, such as occupational therapy, may not be able to be provided at this time.  If a service cannot be provided, compensatory services can be pursued once the school reopens and regular classes resume.  Parents should keep track of what services are being provided, how the service is provided, and how often the service is provided.

Will the school still be having IEP and 504 plan meetings?

Yes.  School districts are still holding IEP meetings.  However, the meetings may not be in person, but by phone, Skype, FaceTime, Zoom, or another way that is not face-to-face.  The only exception would be if the school is completely closed and not providing any type of education to any student. 

Can I still request a meeting with the school?

Yes.  You can still submit a written request for a school meeting.   You should mail your request to the school and the local school board office.  You should mail the request by certified mail and request a return receipt.  You should keep a copy for your records.  

It is time for my child’s annual review, does the school still have to have a meeting and update my child’s IEP?

Yes.  The school should still have annual reviews.  However, it is likely that the meetings will not take place in person if the students are still out of school.  Meetings can be held by phone, Skype, FaceTime, or another way that is not face to face. 

Will the school still be able to complete an evaluation of my child?

Maybe.  Some evaluations may be delayed.  In-person evaluations, testing, and observations will likely be postponed.  Evaluations that can be done without in person contact should still be done.  Evaluations that cannot take place due to the schools being closed should be completed as soon as possible once schools reopen. 

Can Legal Aid help me if the school is not following my child’s IEP or 504 plan?

Legal Aid of West Virginia’s FAST (Family Advocacy, Support, and Training) advocates may be able to help you.  We are still able to help even though we are working remotely.  You can call 1-866-255-4370, or apply online.  
This is general legal information. For guidance about your situation, talk to a lawyer.