Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg
We are living under unprecedented circumstances. What seemed unimaginable has become reality, radically changing our lives in just a few short weeks. The COVID-19 outbreak dramatically impacted early intervention services and PreK through 12th grade instruction across the United States.
In response, the United States Department of Education (Department) established a COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) webpage to provide its stakeholders and the general public with a “one stop shop” for cross-government guidance on COVID-19 as it relates to early intervention, public and private childcare, and K-12 schools. The site includes guidance specific to children with disabilities, including the provision of early intervention services and the provision of FAPE when schools are closed because of a COVID-19 outbreak. We encourage you to review each piece of guidance. Additional resources will be posted as they become available.
The Department also established an email address (email@example.com) to collect additional questions and requests for clarification. As of today, OSEP has received nearly 200 questions and requests for clarification. It is our highest priority to provide our stakeholders with answers to their inquiries as soon as is practicable. OSEP anticipates releasing topical informational briefs soon.
In the interim, we acknowledge both the concerns expressed regarding service delivery during the pandemic and the efforts of early intervention services providers and LEAs to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families when many centers and schools are shuttered, and staff are unavailable. We will continue to assess this rapidly evolving situation and will provide updated information as soon as possible.
We are in this together and appreciate each and every one of you.
Health officials are currently taking steps to prevent the introduction and spread of COVID-19 ("Coronavirus") into communities across the United States. Coronavirus.gov offers the most up to date information about this rapidly evolving situation. Education-specific resources are available on the Department's website.
Through collaboration and coordination with State and local health departments, State and local educational agencies, lead agencies for Part C and early intervention providers, other education officials, and elected officials, schools and early intervention providers can disseminate critical information about the disease and its potential transmission to students, families, staff, and community.
Of particular note, on March 21 the Department released a supplemental fact sheet addressing serving children with disabilities during the COVID-19 national emergency. The supplemental fact sheet makes clear that 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 instruction.
On March 27, the President signed H.R. 748, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act into law.
The CARES Act establishes the $30 billion Education Stabilization Fund, which includes the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Fund, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, and the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund.
OSERS’ technical assistance centers are ready to address your questions regarding the IDEA and best practices and alternate models for providing special education and related services, including through distance instruction. For questions pertaining to Part C of IDEA, States should contact their Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center State Contact. For Part B of IDEA, States should contact the National Center for Systemic Improvement.
The IRIS Center offers free professional development modules on various topics, including distance learning.
Tele-intervention and Distance Learning
The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center hosted a webinar and explored Part C policy and infrastructure issues for States to consider addressing in order to establish and fund early intervention through video-based tele-intervention.
OSEP's Monitoring and State Improvement Planning division conducts many state-focused activities under the umbrella of Results Driven Accountability (RDA). You can read more about this innovative initiative to focus on educational results for children and youth with disabilities and their families here. Additionally, OSEP is examining RDA as a part of the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services RETHINK framework.
REMINDER! OSEP's GRADS360° Page Will Stay Live Into 2020
OSEP will continue to use its GRADS360° page for the foreseeable future. We anticipate the that site will remain active until the fourth quarter of 2020/
What this means for the public. All of the publicly-available information currently housed on the website will remain.
What this means for state users: The SPP/APR online submission system currently hosted on GRADS360° is retired. Beginning with the FY18 SPP/APR, due Feb. 3, 2020, states will submit using the Department's universal APR tool currently under development on the EDFacts Metadata Process System. In the coming months, OSEP will host several informational calls for states on the new system. Contact your state lead if you have questions.
FFY 2018 Part B and Part C SPP/APR Reporting Schedules
The Part C clarification period is scheduled for April 14-28. The Part B clarification period is scheduled for April 16-30.
Part B and Part C Formula Grant Applications
The completed Part B application, with supporting information, must be submitted on or before May 15, to ensure that the state’s FFY 2020 IDEA Part B grant funds are available for obligation on July 1, 2020. States must make available by March 15 the FFY 2020 IDEA Part B grant application for public participation in order to meet the May 15 submission deadline.
The completed Part C application, with supporting information, must be submitted on or before May 1, to ensure that the state’s FFY 2020 IDEA Part C grant funds are available for obligation on July 1. States must make available by March 1 the FFY 2020 IDEA Part C grant application for public participation in order to meet the May 1 submission deadline.
The Part B and Part C SPP/APR information collections are out for the 60-day public comment period. Comments are due by April 20. The collections expire in Aug. 2020. The current timeline will allow the Department to complete the approval process by that date. Therefore, OSEP will not extend the comment period due date because of the COVID-19 national emergency.
Access and review all documents related to the information collections and submit your comments using the links below -
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This newsletter may reference and contain links to external sources. The opinions expressed in these sources do not reflect the views, positions, or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, nor should their inclusion be considered an endorsement of any private organization.