While the pandemic has taken a toll on the learning of every student, those with special needs are enduring further damage to their education according to a recent survey conducted by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  

Most districts reported that the coronavirus pandemic made it more difficult to meet the needs of students with disabilities and comply with requirements of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which guides special education in public schools. 

For instance:

  • Seventy-three percent of districts said that after COVID-19 hit, it was more difficult to provide appropriate instructional accommodations for students with disabilities, and 82 percent said it was more difficult to provide hands-on accommodations and services.
  • Fifty-seven percent of districts said it was more difficult to engage families for help with the requirements of a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), which outlines the goals for students with disabilities, and the supports and accommodations they should receive to meet those goals.

A report from parents Together this summer reinforces the fact that kids in need of individualized support are also facing major challenges. Just 20% of parents whose children have an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or are entitled to other special education services say that they are receiving those services. 39% are not receiving any support at all. 

Children who qualify for individual learning plans are also: Twice as likely as their peers to be doing little or no remote learning (35% vs. 17%); Twice as likely to say that distance learning is going poorly (40% vs. 19% for those without IEPs); And almost twice as concerned about their kids’ mental health (40% vs. 23% for those without IEPs).

“This pandemic has turned the cracks in our education system into an abyss that threatens to swallow our most vulnerable kids,” said Justin Ruben, Co-Director of ParentsTogether Action. “As state budgets are slashed, our schools are having to cut programs and teachers at an alarming rate. Without a vast increase in federal funding so our schools can provide vital services, an entire generation of kids are going to be left behind.” 

To address this crisis, ParentsTogether Action is supporting a call by dozens of organizations representing teachers, principals, and parents for at least $175 billion more for K-12 schools. 

For more on the cause to help students with disabilities, click below:

Resources & Tools: COVID-19 – NCLD

Students with Disabilities and Distance Learning | Share My …

What resources are available for special ed students in the middle of the pandemic?

Students with Disabilities Can’t Just Be an Afterthought This Fall

IDEA at 45: How the Pandemic Affects Students With Disabilities