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Aurora Institute


Issues in Practice, Commit to Equity, Rethink Instruction

Protecting Equity & Access: Online Learning, Special Education, and Serving Students with Disabilities


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With COVID-19 shifting much of K-12 education online for more than 50 million students across the United States, how do education systems ensure services are provided to students with disabilities and special needs?

View this archived webinar to hear from experts discussing the latest guidance for serving students with disabilities as well as strategies in the field to meet these needs in online learning environments. The discussion will also examine research on how online learning can be made more accessible, engaging, and effective for K-12 learners with disabilities by investigating approaches that address learner variability and the range of conditions under which online learning occurs.

The United States Department of Education released a statement to offer guidance with some flexibility:

“As school districts nationwide take necessary steps to protect the health and safety of their students, many are moving to virtual or online education (distance instruction). Some educators, however, have been reluctant to provide any distance instruction because they believe that federal disability law presents insurmountable barriers to remote education. This is simply not true. We remind schools they should not opt to close or decline to provide distance instruction, at the expense of students, to address matters pertaining to services for students with disabilities. Rather, school systems must make local decisions that take into consideration the health, safety, and well-being of all their students and staff.

“To be clear: 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.”

Presenters will share recommendations on meeting the needs of students with disabilities in online education. The webinar will include interactions with attendees learning from each other as well as questions and answers.