A new letter to educators and parents from Education Secretary Miguel A. Cardona addresses ways that schools and parents can work together to ensure that students with disabilities -- who are at higher risk of severe complications due to COVID-19 -- can safely attend school in-person.
In addition to summarizing current CDC guidance and identifying existing federal guidance and resources available for layered prevention strategies -- including vaccination, testing, masking, and improved ventilation – the letter also makes clear that, depending on the circumstances, Section 504 of the Rehab Act and the ADA’s reasonable modification obligation could require some degree of masking of students and staff when necessary to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to in-person learning without incurring an elevated risk of hospitalization or death due to COVID-19.
The letter and other relevant resources are available on the Department’s COVID-19 disability rights page. The letter also was covered by U.S. News and World Report.
In addition, Sec. Cardona and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra announced a joint-department effort to expand school-based health services and ensure children have the health services and supports necessary to build resilience and thrive. On Wednesday, March 30 at 3 pm ET, the two departments will co-host a webinar highlighting successful models of health center service delivery in schools, as well as approaches, needs, and opportunities to support partnerships between schools and health centers.