COVID-19 Information and Resources for Special Educators

On this page are resources and information from the Department, the U.S. Department of Education, and other sources regarding special education in the COVID-19 environment. The page is update additional guidance is available.

Please note that this page includes information that is supplemental to the resources and guidance regarding education for all students that is published on the Department's website at DESE COVID-19 Information and Resources.

Guidance and Resources:

Guidance Regarding Instruction and Services for Students with Disabilities in the COVID-19 Environment:

Family Resources and Information:


Fiscal Considerations:


Procedural Safeguards:

Information from Special Education Directors' Meetings:

  • September 24, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    The main focus of this meeting was IDEA Equitable Services. The presentation also includes school district responsibilities for the following topics: child find, consultation, child count, calculations, and services plans.

  • September 10, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    The focus of this meeting included key information and reminders about special education services for the 2021-2022 school year, such as further information about students with medical needs who require remote services. During the meeting, we will also discuss in detail the Department’s advisory relating to reducing or eliminating the use of time-out rooms, including the strategies, interventions, and supports that schools can proactively use to increase the amount of time students spend learning with their peers.

  • August 26, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Focus of this meeting was the 2021-2022 Family letter and FAQ, School Opening Updates, MCAS Alt updates, Long COVID and IDEA - new guidance from OSEP, New Draft Reusable Learning Object (RLO) for Referral section of Referral, Evaluation, and Eligibility (REE), and provided a link to a short survey to inform DESE on the best way to make these meetings be of assistance.

  • July 15, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Focus of this meeting was updates to the FAQ on compensatory services, equitable services and resolution funds, implementing education in home or hospital settings, early childhood briefs, update on the IEP improvement project, and the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Reports.

  • June 11, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Focus of this meeting was forthcoming updates to technical assistance advisory SPED 2014-5, updated reusable learning object (RLO) for De-Escalation and Prevention of Physical Restraint, a new frequently asked questions (FAQs) and individual student accommodations and implementing education in home and hospital settings.

  • May 14, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Focus of this meeting was dyslexia guidance, emergency licensure extension, updated learning module for the prevention of physical restraint, special education program plan statements and special education determination letters, proportionate share/idea equitable services and home/hospital tutoring and unscheduled evaluations for medical reasons.

  • April 9, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Focus of this meeting was the new dyslexia guidance. Also reviewed information on compensatory services, summer educational services, in-person learning, modified competency determination and reviewed information about upcoming departmental meetings and events.

  • March 26, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Discussions on Return to in-person learning; Special education transportation guidance; Summer educational services; Dyslexia guidelines; Modified competency determination; and DDS Advisory.

  • February 12, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Discussions on new compensatory services for students during the 2020-2021 school year, information on team meetings for students who are participating in remote learning programs, new information on signatures for parental consent for initial evaluation, reevaluation, or the provision of special education and related services, 258 grant, Rethinking discipline/Significant disproportionality, Procedures for temporary waiver of classroom ratios in preschool inclusionary classrooms, Modified Competency Determination (CD) Information for Students Reported as SP ("special education beyond grade 12") in SIMS, MCAS and MCAS Alternate Assessment, February 5th Question and Answers Follow Up, Extended Evaluations, Restraint Reduction and Q and A session.

  • February 5, 2021 — MCAS and MCAS-Alt Update: Question and Answer

  • January 22, 2021 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion about the updated FAQ, the Autism Insurance Resource Center, and guidance on student participation, safety, and wellbeing, Meeting also covered updates on student assessment, equitable services, and dyslexia services.

  • December 11, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on dyslexia guidelines, updates on the special education targeted grant funding, updates on LRE in remote and hybrid instruction, and other general updates.

  • November 20, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on Serving English learners (ELs) with disabilities during in-person, hybrid, and remote learning, creating developmentally appropriate learning environments for early childhood programs (Preschool up to grade 3) during the COVID-19 pandemic, grant announcements FC247 and FC298, updates on the IEP Improvement Project, including announcement of early adopters, and other pertinent special education and COVID-19 topics.

  • November 6, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on Governor Baker's new mask order, grant funding including allowable costs, early adopters for the Individualized Education Program (IEP) improvement project, Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and MCAS Alternate Assessment, significant disproportionality in special education update and remote attendance.

  • October 23, 2020 — Presentation
    Discussion on the IEP improvement project, procedures for temporary waiver of classroom ratios in preschool inclusionary programs, information on upcoming events, the Massachusetts dyslexia guidelines, optional/free antigen testing program and other pertinent special education information.

  • October 9, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on remote assessment, two new FAQs from OSEP and OCR, and providing least restrictive environment for preschool children and alternative compliance procedures for inclusionary programs for young children.

  • September 25, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on a variety of issues related to reopening, including remote and in-person assessment and safety considerations for in-home services. Also discuss MCAS-Alt, and significant disproportionality in special education. Includes a presentation on tele-assessment from Dr. Catherine C. Vieira-Baker of South Coast Educational Collaborative.

  • September 22, 2020 — Tele-Assessment Webinar Presentation Recording

    Webinar presented by Dr. Bill Mautz of Children's Neuropsychological Services and Dr. Joe Moldover of Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society. The webinar covers basics, limitations and challenges of tele-assessment. The presenters also demonstrate tele-assessment and discuss options for remote vs. modified in-person assessments.

    Disclaimer: DESE is committed to supporting general and special educators, administrators, related service providers, and parents in their efforts to work together to meet the needs of students. DESE is providing this webinar as a service. This does not represent an endorsement or recommendation by DESE.

  • September 3, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on updated FAQ, and reviews key information related to special education during the pandemic. Also provides information about upcoming events, trainings and resources.

  • August 20, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Discussion on new COVID-19 compensatory services technical assistance and the parent communication documentation template

  • August 6, 2020 — Presentation Recording
    Update on multiple guidance and documents including discussions on preschool inclusion, deaf and hard of hearing program configuration, tele-assessment best practices and district plans for the Fall and forthcoming COVID-19 Compensatory Services and Recovery Support document.

  • July 23, 2020 — Presentation Recording Guidance Documents and language access for families as school resumes.

  • July 9, 2020 — Presentation Recording Comprehensive guidance for school year 2020-2021

  • June 18, 2020 — Presentation Recording Lessons learned from colleagues

  • June 12, 2020 — Presentation Recording Updates, summer guidance continued

  • June 9, 2020 — Recording Summer guidance

  • June 5, 2020 — Presentation Systemic racism and being an antiracist educator, updates

  • May 29, 2020 — Presentation Remote progress monitoring, transition from Part C (EI), SEL guidance

  • May 22, 2020 — Presentation Timelines guidance, resource guide & family engagement

  • May 15, 2020 — Presentation Guidance on timelines, remote assessment

  • May 8, 2020 — Presentation Extended School Year (ESY), timelines, CARES Act

  • May 1, 2020 — Presentation Early childhood transition, timelines, secondary transition

  • April 17, 2020 — Presentation Timelines, going deeper in previous topics

  • April 9, 2020 — Presentation Resource updates, remote learning plans

  • April 3, 2020 — Presentation Remote service delivery, procedural topics

  • March 26, 2020 — Presentation Shifting to remote instruction

Last Updated: October 1, 2021

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.