COVID-19 and Schools

Produced by Massachusetts Advocates for Children and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed April 28, 2020

​Special Education

School districts must give your child special education services.

Your school must give your child as many Individual Education Plan (IEP) services as they can and still keep your family and their teachers safe during the COVID-19 crisis. 

They must:

  • Give you and your child resources like:
    • Webpages, programs on TV, or apps on your smartphone.
    • Packets of assignments, strategies, and projects for your child.
  • Give your child IEP instruction and services remotely like:
    • Full class lessons,
    • Small group instruction,
    • Counseling sessions,
    • Parent consultation sessions,
    • Individual one-to-one teaching,
    • Occupational therapy,
    • Speech therapy, and
    • Applied behavior analysis (ABA).
  • Have regular phone calls, virtual or online check-ins with you and your child.;

Your child may not get the same service they had when they were at school.

Does the school have to give my child everything in their IEP?

The school district must try to give your child what is in the IEP, but the services will likely be different while schools are closed. But school districts must:

  • Give as many services on your child’s IEP as they can.
  • Regularly meet with you over the phone, or by video conference.
  • Provide accommodations needed in order to access remote learning opportunities.

Talk to the IEP Team about your child’s most pressing needs.

The school is not calling me back.  How often do they have to talk to me?

An IEP Team member must have “regular, ongoing check-ins” with you.  There is not an exact number of times you must talk. It depends on your child’s needs.

I do not speak English well. Does the school have to give me an interpreter when I talk to them?

Yes. When you talk to them, the school must have an interpreter on the call or video conference.  The school must translate any letters or emails they send you.

I have an IEP meeting scheduled.  Does the District have to hold this meeting during the COVID-19 school closure?

Yes. You should meet if team members, including parents, can meet over the phone or video conferencing. The school must have an interpreter on the call if you need one.

Does the school have to do anything to help my child catch up on the "compensatory services" they missed during the COVID-19 crisis?

Compensatory services are additional special education services to make up for IEP services your school does not give your child.

The type and amount of services depends on your child’s individual needs.

When schools open, the IEP Team will meet to talk about how the closure affected your child’s services.  You with the team will decide what extra services your child needs.

Tell the IEP Team now how your child is doing. Keep track of the services your child is getting now and how they are doing.  You want to be able to have a record of your child's progress when school is open again and you have the IEP meeting to discuss additional services that might be needed and "next steps."

What should I do if I cannot get the services and supports my child needs?

Call the Massachusetts Advocates for Children helpline:
(617) 357-8431, ext. 3224.

Contact the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:

[email protected] or
(781) 338-3700

Learn more from the Massachusetts Advocates for Children.


Your child’s school must give you assignments and online resources.  If you are looking for more, find free online learning tools, apps, videos, and games for students online:

See WGBH and CommonSense.


All students who qualify for free or reduced price meals, including all students in school districts with universal free school meals, and who are learning remotely are eligible for Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), which provides funds for students and families to buy food while schools are closed. P-EBT cards were sent out in the mail in the Spring of 2020 for eligible families. You can learn more about whether you qualify for P-EBT and how to get your card at

If your child was getting free school breakfast or lunch you can still get free food from their school.

Find your pickup location.

Use the:

If you have questions call Project Bread 1-800-645-8333.

If you need more food, call Project Bread 1-800-645-8333 to find a food bank near you and see if you can sign up for WIC or SNAP.

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