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U.S. Government to Give Nearly $3 Billion to Support Disability Services

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Many disabled students have continued remote learning, even as many schools around the country have opened up. While remote learning has allowed disabled students to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been an ideal learning environment for many. This had led to concerns from teachers that disabled students are falling behind.

According to Education Week, “51 percent of in-person teachers reported their special education students completed nearly all of their assignments, only 29 percent of remote teachers and 32 percent of hybrid teachers said the same.”

In good news, the U.S. Education Department has released more funds to support students served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IEPs, which are granted under IDEA, and 504s are two types of disability accommodations that American students in primary and secondary schools can receive, and both will receive allotted funding.

Disability Scoop reported on Tuesday that “$2.6 billion — will go toward special education programs for those ages 3 to 21 while $200 million will be tagged for preschool offerings for children with disabilities ages 3 to 5 and $250 million will be allocated for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.” This funding is part of the American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief package, approved in March.

“We know that COVID-19 and disruptions in access to in-person learning over the last year have taken a disproportionate toll on America’s children with disabilities, who, far too often amid the pandemic, experienced challenges in receiving the services and supports that they were entitled to,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, according to a press release. “It’s long past time that the federal government makes good on its commitment to students with disabilities and their families.”

Disability Scoop also reported that schools will receive new guidance on how to better support disabled students during the pandemic, but it is unclear what this guidance is. Even with reports that the spread of COVID-19 at schools is not a high risk, disabled students and their families face a different reality. A December 2020 study, for example, found that kids with Down syndrome face a significant risk for severe disease course if they contract COVID-19, so taking any risk might not be worth it.

The breakdown on how much each state, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico is available on the U.S. Department of Education’s website. 

Image via fizkes/Getty Images

Originally published: July 19, 2021
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