How WIll COVID Impact Special Education?

Education officials in New York City are engaged in public planning on how lost months of in-person instruction for students in city special education programs will receive their missed services.

The New York Daily News reports on the effort which will be a composite of budgeting concerns, personnel management strategy, and building alternatives around the needs of families for more than 50,000 impacted students.

But lawmakers and advocates say that without a guarantee that the extracurricular sessions will include the specialized teachers, therapists, curriculum and transportation to meet students’ specific needs, the plan falls short.

“I certainly welcome the news about Saturday services,” said City Council Education Chair Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn), who wrote a letter to city officials about the issue last week. “The concern that many families and I share is that “IEP” stands for Individualized Education Plan. We’re still missing the individualized plan.”

For systems already struggling with equity in special education resources, has COVID compromised the effort? Take Texas for example, which continues to face potential federal sanctions for enacting changes to its evaluation and educational provision systems for students ages 3-21.

Will COVID provide cover for states to say they simply don’t have the financial or human resources to make it happen for these students? Or will the federal government step in with sweeping reforms to answer growing calls for support of vulnerable student populations?