Back to School Tips for Parents & Caregivers of Children with Disabilities

Diverse group of happy children getting on school bus

By: Lakshmi Mahadevan, Ph.D.

Its that time of year again and yet it is not the typical back to school that we have all known. As a parent or a guardian of a child with disabilities you are probably concerned about the effects of an ongoing pandemic on special education. Are you wondering – What will my child’s special education journey now look like? What’s new? What’s still available? Who do I ask?

Top 10 Tips to Help

  1. Go to the school’s website and note the contact information for the school’s Special Education Department.
  2. Get yourself a secure email and phone number that the school always has available.
  3. Check to see if you have access to a laptop or computer with wi-fi and audio video conferencing capabilities.
  4. Call the school’s special education department to confirm who is on your child’s team which typically includes a case manager (special education teacher) and diagnostician.
  5. Mark your calendar with the proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting dates.
  6. Ensure that you RSVP as “attending” when invited to the IEP meetings.
  7. Be prepared with all your IEP and school-based questions.
  8. Practice COVID-19 activities (mask wearing, physical distancing, sign reading, hand washing, asking for help) at home.
  9. Ask when and how you will be notified by the school if decisions are made to return to work from home.
  10. Stay flexible, be kind and remain patient – we are all learning as we go and it is likely that the school is making their best efforts to keep your child safe, educated and healthy.

Additional Resources

  1. Back-to-School: Tips for Parents of Children with Special Needs
  2. COVID-19 pandemic: Helping young children and parents transition back to school
  3. Special education and the coronavirus: Legal FAQs about IEPs
  4. Making special education work for your child during COVID-19
  5. Supporting Students in Special Education Through COVID-19