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Home » About OSPI » News Releases and Statements » Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources » Special Education Guidance for COVID-19

Special Education Guidance for COVID-19

The page provides resources for Washington State schools and districts to guide decisions and provision of FAPE for students receiving special education during the COVID school closures.


The purpose of these resources are to provide guidance and best practices for addressing the unique considerations for supporting students with disabilities, their families, and all educators throughout the school reopening process. During these unprecedented times, we remain focused on providing needed services to students and addressing barriers to access so all students receive quality educational services. Please share your feedback on this guidance document with us through our Survey—Reopening Washington Schools 2020: Special Education Guidance.

The purpose of this resource is to review guidance and recommendations to schools and families about providing in-person special education services across all grade levels, preschool to age 21. This document opens with a review of guidance, follows with a planning checklist, and closes with some related resource links. To support family and community engagement throughout the educational process, the guidance has been translated into twelve additional languages:

Arabic | Chinese | Hindi | Korean | Marshallese | Punjabi | Russian | Somali | Spanish | Tagalog | Ukrainian | Vietnamese

This resource outlines case studies for providing specially designed instruction (SDI) and related services across school reopening models, including considerations for identifying settings and least restrictive environment (LRE). The case studies examples include elementary, middle school and behavior, secondary transition, and preschool. There is also an appendix with frequently asked questions.

This guidance is not intended to duplicate the content of the Reopening Washington Schools 2020 District Planning Guide, which included special education participation.

This guidance is current as of April 12, 2021. The Q&A includes information for districts, educators, and families on FAPE for students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic to include: provision of services, early childhood considerations, secondary transition considerations, child care, communication with families, timelines, fiscal considerations, and additional resources. Information in the Q&A will be updated frequently to reflect current guidance as it is released. If you have questions, please contact Glenna Gallo, Assistant Superintendent of Special Education, or call at 360-725-6075.

In partnership with the Washington State Early Childhood Special Education Coordination Team, OSPI Special Education has developed guidance on the Provision of Services to Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs during School Facility Closure. The guidance document addresses early childhood transition from IDEA, Part C to Part B, including the role of school districts in the initial eligibility process. Other topics include child outcome summary (COS) entry and exit ratings, and considerations for students transitioning to kindergarten during a school facility closure. For additional information, please contact Ryan Guzman, OSPI Early Childhood Special Education Coordinator, at