The United States is currently experiencing a pandemic emergency due to the threat of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). On March 13, 2020, Governor Newsom signed Executive Order N-26-20 ensuring State funding for Local Educational Agencies (LEA) in the event of physical closure due to the threat of COVID-19. The Executive Order requires the California Department of Education (CDE) to issue guidance on several topics, including ensuring students with disabilities (SWD) receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with their individualized education program (IEP) and meeting other procedural requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and California law.
At this time, the federal government has not waived the federal requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). To review guidance from the USDOE titled “Questions and Answers on Providing Services to Children with Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak,” visit the USDOE website at https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-covid-19-03-12-2020.pdf. The CDE and the California State Board of Education (SBE) are working with the United States Department of Education (USDOE) to determine what flexibilities or waivers may be issued in light of the extraordinary circumstances. Until and unless USDOE ultimately provides flexibilities under federal law, LEAs should do their best in adhering to IDEA requirements, including federally mandated timelines, to the maximum extent possible. LEAs are encouraged to consider ways to use distance technology to meet these obligations. However, the CDE acknowledges the complex, unprecedented challenges LEAs are experiencing from the threat of COVID-19. As such, the CDE is committed to a reasonable approach to compliance monitoring that accounts for the exceptional circumstances facing the state.