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COVID-19 & Special Education: Parent FAQs Answered

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

In the legal world, frustration of purpose occurs when an unforeseen event undermines a party's principal purpose for entering into a contract in such a way that the performance of the contract is radically different from what was originally contemplated by the parties.

If you’re a parent of a child with special needs, you’re probably frustrated. This is a radically different school system than it was just a month ago.

And so is your child’s IEP team.

We talked with parents across Maryland to find out what their biggest challenges were and provided answers in this blog.

Q: Has the coronavirus pandemic frustrated the purpose of your child’s IEP?

A: Absolutely.

After contacting Maryland school system lawyers, special education teachers, and athletic directors at private schools, we’ve gotten a clear picture of what is going on with special education across Maryland.

  • IEP meetings are being rescheduled, slowly.

  • Sports have stopped. Kids are restless. It’s hard to encourage them to leave the house; some haven’t stepped foot outside in over three weeks.

  • You don’t have a dedicated learning center open at any school to help students in-person with special needs. So kids aren’t getting their regular access to guidance counselors and other supports.

  • No 1:1s. Staff aren’t supposed to be in 1:1 behind closed doors, so virtual closed doors can pose some potential safety risks that the schools may not be open to it.That means significant trouble with typing, writing, and reading virtually for students with learning challenges in those areas.

One good bit of news: Most accommodations are extended time, so they still get their extended time.

Q: What is a doable accommodation I can expect today?


  • Extended time is very easy to maintain at home.

  • Schedule virtual appts with counselors if your child is feeling overwhelmed.

  • Get comfortable with more 1:1 technology options. It isn’t new --some private schools were already prepared with 1:1 technology at school in the event of a snow day. And speech and language therapists are offering to meet with clients virtually. Be flexible. It could be better than nothing.

  • You and your child can follow the same schedule at home, even lunch. Private schools do.

Q: Why follow the same schedule at home that your child follows at school?


  • Routine is important for students with focus and memory challenges.

  • It can decrease anxiety and improve time management and productivity

  • Transitions between activities is especially hard for students with learning challenges. Keeping to the same transitions that can be expected at school can reduce stress at home.

Q: Are or when will IEP/team meetings start back up?

A: This decision is being made on a school-by-school basis. All school have different caseloads and new challenges to overcome.

Q: When IEP meetings start again, in what order would they be rescheduled?

A: Meetings will be scheduled based on the work able to be completed by the school’s IEP team. Meetings can only be held properly when all the data has been collected and analyzed correctly. Expect status meetings to be further delayed if they were contingent on exams and testing that has not been completed due to COVID-19.

Q: How are special education services and supports being provided to families?

A: This decision is made by your child’s school based on the resources the IEP team has available during the quarantine. Many teachers were forced to leave their classroom, unable to return to gather files that they might have needed at an IEP meeting.

Q: Is there a standard protocol for teachers to follow during an emergency that shuts down the school system?

A: Not as of right now. Teachers are also struggling to figure out how to support students during this time.

We sincerely wish you and your child the best during these trying times. Remember to be patient and work together to fill the void in support services right now. Talking about the pressure with your child is important, too, to reduce the anxiety that your child feels while not having their support system in place.

There is plenty that you as a parent can do at home to support your child while services are on hold. Join us for our next special education webinar class Thursday April 23 when we’ll be providing tips from special education teachers about how to modify the home-school environment for your child with ADD, ADHD, or other focus issues.

There, you can also find the full course syllabus for our Special Education Webinar Series.

Be well, eat well, sleep well, especially in stressful times. I’ll see you at class on Thursday!


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