As school buses roll once again for the new school year, the potential impacts of COVID-19 continue.
Children suffering from ongoing health problems related to the novel coronavirus may be entitled to receive disability-related supports, services and accommodations under Section 504 and Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published a resource Monday that outlines school and public agency responsibilities for providing services and reasonable modifications to students with long-term adverse health effects.
OCR and OSERS shared that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define Long COVID as various new, returning and ongoing health issues experienced for more than four weeks after initial COVID-19 infection.
Long COVID Symptoms
Tiredness or fatigue
Changes in smell or taste
Worsening symptoms after physical or mental activities
Chest or stomach pain
Shortness of breath
Joint or muscle pain
“Pins and needles” feeling
Changes in period cycles
Multiorgan effects or autoimmune conditions
“Even people who did not have symptoms when they were infected can have post-Covid conditions,” it adds.
While the guidance does not have the force and effect of law, it suggests that symptoms could result in a student being eligible for services such as transportation under IDEA or protections from discrimination under Section 504. Additionally, students already identified with a disability who suffer from Long COVID could need new or different aids and services or reasonable modifications.
“Long COVID is an emerging issue that may affect many children (and educators) across the country,” said Katherine Neas, the acting assistant secretary for OSERS. “Early intervention and local educational agencies need to ensure that children who are living with impaired development or health due to long COVID that is a disability are identified and are provided the appropriate services and supports covered under IDEA.”
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