Special Education and COVID-19


In order to support educators who serve, and families of Tennessee children with disabilities this webpage will continuously be updated with special education-specific information and resources throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

State & Federal Guidance

Instructional Toolkits, Resources and Considerations

Special Populations Reopening FAQ (Added 9.22.20)

Special Education Council Frequently Asked Questions (Added 5.7.20)

Special Education Related FAQ (Updated 3.31.20)

COVID Special Education Presentation Slides (Added 3.30.20)

Reminders for Serving Students with Disabilities During COVID-19 (Added 1.14.21)

Due to the rising cases of COVID-19 across the state, many local education agencies (LEAs) are implementing their continuous learning plans (CLPs) to ensure students continue to receive instruction during this time. As a reminder, none of the LEA requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have been waived. The department would like to provide these additional reminders regarding the provision of special education services during this time: child find, early childhood transition, evaluation timelines, special education service provisions and compensatory services.

Disability and Topic Specific Information

Tennessee Disability Pathfinder: COVID-19 In response to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, Tennessee Disability Pathfinder will connect individuals to information and resources available to meet their needs.

Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders (TRIAD): COVID 19 Resources TRIAD is making hundreds of online modules, archived webinars, and online toolkits available to families through a free learning management system. We will be ensuring all students who were receiving services a school are provided the opportunity through their schools to connect directly with our experts to support their needs at home – including academics, communication, and behavior.

Social Stories

National Deaf Center  NDC is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic with customized resources, tips, and events for deaf youth and the educators, disability services professionals, VR counselors, parents and others who support them.

Tennessee Behavior Supports Project: COVID-19 TBSP is creating short videos and tip sheets that families can utilize to learn how to adapt school strategies to implement positive behavior supports at home. These will be shared on a newly created website where resources (e.g., videos, tips, schedules, home matrix) to support families will be housed. Our goal is to align resources for families with what districts and schools are doing to support appropriate behaviors in school settings so families can implement similar supports at home, during this time.

Tennessee Talks: Coronavirus Pandemic AAC Resources TN-Talks has bolstered the content available on our website by adding demonstration videos and printable communication resources for families to assist them in supporting the communication needs of their children in the home-school setting. In addition, we are creating a calendar of online instructional modules for learning more about AAC and following these with moderated group calls to provide guidance. The four regional coordinators are available to remotely collaborate with families and the school-based speech therapist to address their child’s communication needs in the home.

American Speech-Language & Hearing Association – Coronavirus / COVID-19 Updates

Transition TN: COVID-19 Resources (registration is required, but free) We will share resources with families through social media like Twitter and Facebook. We are regularly updating a list of resources specifically aimed at families. We will host an online transition fair so students and their families can learn more about the transition to adulthood and resources available in their region or throughout the state.

IDEAS that Work: Virtual IEP Meeting Tip Sheets This 6-page resource responds to requests from state and local educational agencies and parents about how to hold and participate in virtual IEP meetings. The package (also available in Word) includes:

·         Technology Tips for Participants (1 page);

·         Hosting Virtual IEP Meetings: Tips for Success (before, during, and after meeting suggestions);

·         Common Questions and Answers About Hosting Virtual IEP Meetings (1 page);

·         Participating in Virtual IEP Meetings: Tips for IEP Team Members (before, during, and after meeting suggestions; and

·         Common Questions and Answers About Participating in Virtual IEP Meetings

IDEAS that Work: Sample Virtual Meeting Agenda (in English) (in Spanish) This 1-pager suggests an agenda for a 60-minute meeting; describes possible roles for members (e.g., timekeeper, facilitator); offers meeting norms; and lists six topics to cover during the meeting, facilitators for each topic, and how much time to devote to a topic.

IDEAS that Work: Infographic for Participating in Virtual Meetings (In English) (in Spanish) This 1-page infographic applies to many kinds of special education meetings, including mediation, resolution sessions, and due process hearings. Includes technology tips, suggestions for what to do before the meeting, and participation tips.

Elementary Family Tip Sheet: Back to School for Students with Disabilities after COVID-19 Closure     (Spanish)

Secondary Family Tip Sheet: Back to School for Students with Disabilities after COVID-19 Closure     (Spanish)

The Arc TN: COVID-19 Resources The Arc Tennessee is quickly adapting and organizing resources that are relevant to families during this time of COVID-19. If you go to our website, we now have a COVID-19 Resources tab on the top left side of our landing page, which is organized by topic. We are using more social media to better reach families where they are. We are coordinating Facebook Live and Zoom videos to answer frequently asked questions that are coming up as a result of the coronavirus and school closures, especially for students with disabilities.