MSDE Technical Assistance Bulletin
March 30, 2020
The State of Maryland, along with the rest of the nation, is currently faced with the pandemic threat of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). In order to protect the health and safety of our communities, on March 12, 2020, the State Superintendent announced the closing of Maryland public schools from March 16, 2020 through March 27, 2020. In consultation with the Office of the Governor, the State Board of Education, and various public health officials, the State Superintendent announced on March 25, 2020 that schools would remain closed through April 24, 2020. While operations of school buildings has ceased, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) has been working with local public agencies to ensure continuity of learning for all Maryland students.
As local public agencies submit to the MSDE plans for providing educational services to all students, they must also address concerns related to the provision of services to students with disabilities. The United States Department of Education (DOE) has issued multiple guidance documents:
- Non-Regulatory Guidance on Flexibility and Waivers for Grantees and Program Participants Impacted by Federally Declared Disasters
- Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak (March 2020)
- Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities
These federal guidance are clear that the national health crisis does not abridge the rights of students with disabilities to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and equal opportunity to educational services as their non-disabled peers, as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).