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.
Reducing or Eliminating the Use of Time-Out Rooms During the 2021-2022 School Year
2021-2022 School Year Parent Letter and FAQ
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Schools and Districts Regarding Special Education — Revised July 8, 2021
COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions for Schools and Districts Regarding Special Education, April 8, 2021
Special Education Transportation Guidance
COVID-19 Special Education Administrative Advisory 2021-1 : Procedures for Temporary Waiver of Classroom Ratios in Preschool Inclusionary Programs
Summer 2020 Special Education Services
COVID-19 Special Education Learning Plan
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Special Education Technical Assistance Advisory 2021-1 : COVID-19 Compensatory Services and Recovery Support for Students with IEPs — Updated 09/03/2020
Family Fact Sheet: COVID-19 Compensatory Services and Recovery Support for Students with IEPs During the COVID-19 Pandemic — September 2020
Comprehensive Special Education Guidance for the 2020-2021 School Year Memo — 07/10/2020 (minor text updates made 7/23/2020)
DESE Resource links to assist general and special educators, administrators, related service providers, and parents in addressing the needs of students with disabilities who are learning remotely during the COVID-19 crisis: Additional Resources for Supporting Students with Disabilities for All Educators and Providers — Updated May 22, 2020
Resources for Supporting Students with Disabilities for All Educators and Providers — Updated 04/06/2020
Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) — Residential and Congregate Care Programs 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance — Updated April 14, 2020
U.S. Department of Education, Offices of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services and Civil Rights Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities — March 21, 2020
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools While Protecting the Civil Rights of Students — March 16, 2020
U.S. Department of Education Questions And Answers On Providing Services To Children With Disabilities During The Coronavirus Disease Outbreak — March 2020
Back to School Letter for Families of Children with Disabilities — September 2020
DESE Letter for Families of Students with Disabilities, April 9, 2020 — Posted 04/17/2020
DESE Family Resource Toolbox — Posted 04/17/2020
FC274 IDEA Federal Targeted Special Education Program Improvement Grant Posted — November 16, 2020
FC298 Early Childhood Targeted Special Education Program Improvement and Safety Grant Posted — November 9, 2020
DESE Administrative Advisory SPED 2010-3 (603 CMR 10.07): Private Approved Day and Residential School Tuition Payments — Temporary Absences — May 7, 2010
U.S. Department of Education Question and Answer: Flexibility on IDEA Part B Fiscal Requirements specific to the COVID-19 pandemic — June 26, 2020
U.S. Department of Education Question and Answer: IDEA Part B Use of Funds specific to the COVID-19 pandemic — June 25, 2020
DESE COVID Special Education Technical Assistance Advisory 2020-2: Implementation of Special Education Timelines During the COVID-19 State of Emergency: — May 21, 2020
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Letter to Geary and DeLorenzo , November 20, 2012 (IDEA flexibilities related to Hurricane Sandy)
U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) FAQ related to the provision of IEP services during the pandemic — September 28, 2020
U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs Question and Answer: IDEA Part B Procedural Safeguards specific to the COVID-19 pandemic — June 30, 2020
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
Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH): Information on the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance for schools
Parents and guardians questions can be directed to COVID19K12ParentInfo@mass.gov
District and school staff's questions can be directed to: Reopeningk12@mass.gov
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.