Education Secretary Addresses Students with Disabilities’ Rights in Accordance with CDC Guidelines
Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona published a letter to parents and educators reviewing the rights of students with disabilities in accordance with the latest COVID-19 framework published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the letter, Secretary Cardona recognizes the diagnosis of long COVID as a qualifying disability under the relevant legislation to direct educators’ attention towards developing the appropriate protections for students in the classroom. He encourages the leveraging of individualized education plans (IEPs) and Section 504 processes to accommodate students’ health needs, as well as layered prevention strategies. In continuing prevention strategies, he recommends vaccinating eligible students and staffers, conducting regular testing, and upgrading HVAC systems—which is an eligible use of American Rescue Plan funds.
Finally, Cardona reminds parents and educators that all students with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment, writing, “schools must refrain from placing all students with disabilities, or all students with disabilities at high risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19, in a segregated setting away from their peers without disabilities as the only means to deliver FAPE safely.”