The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) understands that guidance can change quickly as information evolves.
DPI frequently updates its COVID-19 webpage to reflect the current situation with this novel coronavirus being monitored by the CDC.
The Special Education Team regularly updates its COVID-19 Special Education Question and Answer Document regarding the impact on students with IEPs. (Updated 5/13/2021)
The department has recorded a presentation to help develop a greater understanding, particularly for families, of guidance issued to date in response to challenges facing school communities as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. In particular, the presentation focuses on the guidance contained in the COVID-19 Special Education Question and Answer Document.
On May 13, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released an important new resource: Questions and Answers on Civil Rights and School Reopening in the COVID-19 Environment
The OCR Q&A is designed to help students, families, schools and the public understand the civil rights protections that support equal opportunity for students in remote, hybrid and in-person educational environments, in both K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions. You will find many important topics covered in the Q&A, including:
- Protection against discrimination for students with disabilities, including the rights of students with disabilities to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) during remote learning and school reopening; the rights of students with disabilities related to mask exemptions, physical distancing, accessibility and placement issues, and waivers; and the responsibilities of postsecondary institutions.
- Protections for students against discrimination based on race, color and national origin, including information about harassment, discipline disparities, and resource equity; the rights of students with undocumented status; the rights of students with unstable housing and students who are experiencing homelessness; and the rights of English learners.
- Protections for students against sex discrimination, including sexual and gender-based harassment, including schools’ responsibilities to address complaints of sexual harassment, including sexual violence, during remote, hybrid and in-person learning.
- Please note that while this Q&A addresses many important issues on school reopening and civil rights, it is not comprehensive. You may submit questions at email@example.com.
- Information Update Bulletin 20.01: Additional Services due to Extended School Closures (Added 5/29/2020)
- The Special Education Team has changed district responsibilities related to data collection and reporting during this time of school closures. (Updated 05/21/2020)
- Teleservice Considerations for Related Services During the Current Public Health Emergency (Updated 10/01/2020)
- Interim COVID-19 Transportation Guidance
- Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and COVID-19
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 page
- Virtual Learning Time for Public Schools
- Conducting Parent Friendly and Productive Virtual IEP Meetings
- Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Finance and COVID-19
- What Families Need to Know about Additional Services Due to Extended School Closure - Spanish
- WSPEI: Preparing for Discussions on Additional Services: What Families Can Do
- Documenting Extension of Evaluation Timeline in Connection with Extended School Closure
- The department has not produced a sample form for documenting extensions for evaluations that cannot be completed, due to extended school closure, within 60 days of receiving parent consent. The link below is an example of a form, with minor modifications, developed by the Racine Unified School District. The department is not requiring the use of this form and is providing this document solely as an example. The use of this form or any other method of documentation must be consistent with the guidance contained within the COVID-19 Special Education Question and Answer Document, as well as the requirements under 34 CFR § 300.301(d) and Wis. Stat. § 115.78(3)(b). The department gratefully acknowledges the Racine Unified School District for this contribution.
- Example Form
- Virtual Learning - Educational Environment Guidance (September 2020)
- Supplemental Resources for Supporting Students with IEPs During COVID-19
- A Guide to Implementing IEPs and Monitoring Progress of IEP Goals When Moving Between In-Person, Hybrid, or Virtual Learning Environments (December 2020)
DPI continues to share updated information with district administrators frequently. There is a listing of these updates and any attachments at the district administrators' email chrono page. Additional special education and pupil services newsletter items are archived here.
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has provided a Frequently Asked Questions Document. Additional information was released on March 21, 2020, emphasizing that special education requirements must be provided consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those providing education, specialized instruction, and related services to those students.
On September 28, 2020, OSEP released a question and answer document on the implementation of IEP services in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The document is meant to assist LEAs and parents in identifying steps they can take to ensure that as the 2020-21 school year continues, students with disabilities are well positioned with an educational program that meets each student’s unique needs. The document includes guidance on IEP team meeting requirements, the IEP amendment process, timelines, ESY, and evaluations. The guidance is consistent with Wisconsin’s COVID-19 Special Education Question and Answer Document.