Responding to COVID-19: IDEA Q&As, Webinars, IDEA Fiscal Waivers

Improving Results for Youth and Children With Disabilities

June 2020: In This Issue of the OSEP Update

Inside OSEP: Laurie's Letter

Message From Director Laurie VanderPloeg

Laurie VanderPloeg official portrait

Partners - 

School closures caused by the COVID-19 national emergency have shown us how important it is for our community to have access to resources to support infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities and their families. OSEP and the OSEP-funded technical assistance centers routinely develop and disseminate high-quality, relevant, and useful documents and resources. However, it was not always clear that resources were reaching the intended audiences. As I first announced in my Feb. 2019 OSEP Update Laurie’s Letter, one goal of my tenure as OSEP director is to ensure that special educators, related services providers, early intervention service providers, parents, and other stakeholders have the resources and other materials they need to ensure that infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities make effective progress. Considering COVID-19, OSEP has prioritized implementing this goal.


Last month, OSEP hosted the first in a series of webinars focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from OSEP partners to support the educational, developmental, behavioral, and social emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning. It was a huge success! More than 4,200 people participated on the day of the webinar and just over 4,100 people have subsequently viewed the webinar.


The second webinar highlighting strategies and practices in providing related services to enhance the continuity of learning during COVID-19 for children with disabilities is scheduled for June 29. This session offers an opportunity to focus on the provision of related services through remote and distance methods, to address the critical, ongoing needs of children with disabilities during the COVID-19 era. The webinar will highlight OSEP resources and will include representatives from several of OSEP’s related service national organizations. A registration link is below.


I encourage you to broadly share the resources and information in the OSEP Update to help OSEP meet this goal.



Register Now

VR100: Vocational Rehabilitation Program's 100th Anniversary

Partnerships That Make A Difference

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) will showcase two partnerships that are enabling individuals with disabilities to benefit from advances in technology.


RSA and the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Community Living will highlight a decades-long partnerships between the VR program and programs established under the Assistive Technology Act that have expanded career opportunities for individuals with disabilities through assistive technology.


RSA and the Department of Veteran Affairs' Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) will feature their history of partnerships and share examples of how recent collaboration has enabled counselors and veterans with disabilities to benefit from advances in technology.

June 25, 2020

2:30 - 3:30pm EDT


Providing Related Services to Enhance the Continuity of Learning During COVID-19

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is hosting the second in a series of webinars focused on ready-to-use resources, tools, and practices from OSEP partners to support the educational, developmental, behavioral, and social/emotional needs of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities through remote and distance learning.


This second webinar will focus on the provision of related services. In addition to highlighting OSEP resources, we will be joined by representatives from several of our related service national organizations. Additional information will be posted on OSEP’s COVID-19 Resource Page


If you have any questions about the OSEP webinar, please contact the Webinar Series planning team at

June 29, 2020

2:00 - 3:00pm EDT

OSEP Policy Letters

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June 8, 2020: OSEP Letter to Anonymous addresses the use of IDEA Part B funds to pay hearing officers to conduct due process hearings under IDEA.  In addressing this inquiry, OSEP examined requirements that apply to Federal grants under the Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirements for Federal Awards as well as IDEA and its implementing regulations.

Federal COVID-19 Resources

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The Department released several COVID-19 related resources in June.


IDEA Part B Dispute Resolution Procedures

This document was developed in response to inquiries concerning IDEA implementation Part B dispute resolution procedures in the current COVID-19 environment.


IDEA Part C Dispute Resolution Procedures

This document was developed in response to inquiries concerning IDEA implementation Part B dispute resolution procedures in the current COVID-19 environment.


IDEA Part B Period of Availability Waiver

Waiver Authority for the Period of Availability for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B Funds for Federal fiscal year 2018 informs States of the option to request a waiver that will permit a State educational agency and subgrantees (e.g., local educational agencies) to use Federal fiscal year 2018 IDEA Part B grants award funds for an additional year beyond what is known as the Tydings period. The waiver application is available here


CARES Act Maintenance-of-Effort Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions on the Maintenance-of-Effort Requirements Applicable to the CARES Act Programs answers questions about the State maintenance-of-effort (MOE) requirements under the CARES Act. The CARES Act creates funding streams for several programs that address the educational impact of the Novel Coronavirus Disease 2019 . Under two of these programs – the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund, Section 18002)) and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund, Section 18003) – States are required to maintain fiscal effort on behalf of elementary, secondary and postsecondary education.


Catalog of Department Resources

Check the Department's COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel web page for additional information and resources.


OSEP anticipates issuing additional question and answer documents over the next few weeks in response to inquiries received concerning IDEA implementation in the current COVID-19 environment.

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CDC Guidance for Child Care, Schools, and Youth Programs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains a web page that provides information for child care, schools, and youth programs to plan, prepare, and respond to COVID-19. Topics include: 

  • If you're open
  • Deciding to open
  • Ongoing mitigation strategy
  • Prevention and support
  • Communication resources

IDEA Discretionary Grant Funding Opportunities

Technical Assistance on State Data Collection - Fiscal

A notice of final priority and requirements for a technical assistance center to provide technical assistance to improve the capacity of States to meet the fiscal data collection requirements under IDEA Parts B and C was published on June 16 (CFDA 84.373F). The notice inviting applications for this competition was published on June 16. Applications must be transmitted by July 31.


Improving Retention of Special Education Teachers and Early Intervention Personnel

A notice inviting applications for personnel development to improve services and results for children with disabilities - improving retention of special education and early intervention providers (CFDA 84.325P) was published on June 11. Applications must be transmitted by Aug. 17.

Seeking Public Comment

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Technical Assistance and Dissemination - IDEA Paperwork Reduction Planning and Implementation Program

A notice of proposed priorities, requirements, and selection criteria for the IDEA paperwork reduction planning and implementation program (CFDA 84.326F) on May 29. Comments are due by June 29.


Report of IDEA Part C Dispute Resolution

This package provides instructions and form necessary for States to report the number of written, signed complaints; mediation requests; and hearing requests and the status of these actions initiated during the reporting year with regards to children served under Part C of IDEA. The 60-day comment period closes on Aug. 17.


IDEA Paperwork Reduction Waivers

A notice of proposed requirements for paperwork reduction waivers under IDEA section 609 was published on June 9. Comments are due by Aug. 19. 


Reports of Children Receiving Part C Early Intervention Services, Part C Program Settings, and Part C Exiting

This collection provides instructions and forms necessary for States to report the number of children receiving early intervention services under Part C of the IDEA, the setting in which these children are provided services, and the reasons by which these children exit Part C of the IDEA. The 60-day comment period closes on Aug. 18.


State Lead Agency Part C Record Keeping and Reporting Requirements

This collection reflects the requirements under IDEA Part C that require State lead agencies to collect and maintain information or data and, in some cases, report information or data to other public agencies or to the public. However, such information or data are not required to be reported to the Secretary. The 60-day comment period closes on Aug. 18.

Dose of Data

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Significant Disproportionality Data

Effective July 1, States must include children ages 3-5 in their review of significant disproportionality with respect to identification of children as children with disabilities. As States implement this change, the IDEA Data Center (IDC) is available to provide assistance and resources related to significant disproportionality and other IDEA Part B data needs. IDC recently released Data Sources for Calculating Significant Disproportionality, which outlines data states should use to calculate risk risk ratios, including relevant EDFacts file specifications that include these data. For more information about IDC’s support and resources, visit

OSEP-funded TA Center COVID-19 Resources

OSERS’ technical assistance centers are ready to address your questions regarding the IDEA and best practices and alternate models for providing special education and related services, including through distance instruction. The National Center for Systemic Improvement is the primary source for technical assistance resources during the COVID-19 national emergency for IDEA Part B programs. The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center is the primary source for IDEA Part C programs. For questions pertaining to Part C of IDEA, States should contact their Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center State Contact.  For Part B of IDEA, States should contact the National Center for Systemic Improvement.

Early Childhood

The Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center is providing State Part C and Part B, Section 619 programs with the latest information on funding and guidance, as well as information on talking to children and families during the COVID-19 national emergency.


School Age

The National Center for Systemic Improvement's web page provides a resource hub for supporting students with disabilities during the COVID-19 national emergency, including educator resources to support remote learning.


Other Resources

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Transitioning Back Into Schools

TIES Center recently added a resource titled, Start Now to Plan for Students Transitioning Back to School to its distance learning series. Even as teams continue developing their skills to provide distance learning to students with significant cognitive disabilities, States are discussing various scenarios for when and how-to bring students back to schools. Proactively thinking now about what needs to be considered to successfully transition students back to school will help facilitate this transition.

Lessons for Reading and Mathematics

The National Center on Intensive Intervention (NCII) has released a series of resources in response to COVID-19 including tip sheets and video examples for educators and parents around using the NCII sample lessons in reading and mathematics to provide opportunities for students to practice and receive feedback, frequently asked questions around virtual progress monitoring, and voices from the field interviews with educators and state staff as they share how things changed as a result of COVID-19.


Supporting Students at School and Home

The Center on PBIS, in collaboration with the National Center on Intensive Intervention and the Integrated Multi- Tiered Systems of Support Research Network, developed a guide for teachers to support families and students. The guide highlights five key practices for teachers and families to support all students, including students with disabilities, at school and home.


Adapting Check-In Check-Out for Distance Learning

The Center on PBIS developed a brief to provide considerations and suggestions for adapting Check-in Check-out (CICO), an evidence-based Tier 2 school intervention, for situations where students are learning from home.


Adapting Systems of Behavior Support for Distance Learning

This Center on PBIS webinar highlights resources to support educators & students during the pandemic & discuss how to adapt systems of behavior support for distance, hybrid, & return to campus scenarios.  

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Transition to Distance Learning

The National AEM Center at CAST hosted a webinar series focusing on tools and resources to support the transition to distance learning in response to COVID-19. Closed-captioned recordings from these webinars and other resources related to remote learning are available on the Resources for Access and Distance Education page of the AEM Center website.

Research You Can Use

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Supporting Evidence Use in School Improvement

How States and Districts Support Evidence Use in School Improvement provides a snapshot of how states promote evidence-based strategies in their lowest-performing schools, and how districts operating these schools choose improvement practices. Findings are based on national surveys administered in 2018 as part of a broader effort to study the implementation of ESSA.

Results Driven Accountability: What's Due and What's New

OSEP's Monitoring and State Improvement Planning division conducts many state-focused activities under the umbrella of Results Driven Accountability (RDA). You can read more about this innovative initiative to focus on educational results for children and youth with disabilities and their families here



The 2020 determination letters will be issued before July 1.



IDEA Formula Grant Awards

FY2020 IDEA formula grant awards will be issued on July 1.

Differentiated Monitoring and Support

As part of the Rethink Special Education initiative, OSEP has been examining its differentiated monitoring and support (DMS) system.  This rethink was designed to build on the work OSEP has done under Results Driven Accountability and to continue to ensure that OSEP fulfills its core responsibilities to monitor its grantees in a manner that focuses on improved outcomes for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities, and their families. 


OSEP intended, as was communicated in other venues, to roll out its plans for DMS 2.0 in a national technical assistance call in April.  But, given the urgency of responding to COVID-19, OSEP has decided that this is not the right time to roll out DMS 2.0.  States must focus on the important work of ensuring that early intervention services for infants and toddlers, and special education services and related services for children and youth are being provided during this time of crisis, as well as ensuring that staff and families remain safe and healthy.  As a result, OSEP is postponing the roll out of our revised DMS process.


OSEP anticipates rolling out DMS 2.0 in summer 2020.  

POSTPONED: 2020 OSEP Project Directors' Conference

With our stakeholders' well-being and safety in mind, the in-person OSEP Project Directors’ Conference will be postponed to 2021. We will miss seeing everyone in person this year, but considering the present circumstances, we believe this is the best decision to make. If you submitted a proposal to present, you will have the option to resubmit for next year’s conference.


During the dates of the planned conference (July 20-22, 2020), a series of virtual calls will take place to ensure all grantees have updated and relevant information to inform their work. Please continue to hold these dates on your calendar. These calls will take place according to the schedule below; information about registration and how to connect will be shared soon.  All grantees are expected to attend the OSEP Remarks and any Program Area Check-In Calls for which they have a grant.


Please visit the 2020 OSEP Project Directors' Conference website or contact the OSEP Conference Planning Team by email at for more information on the virtual meeting schedule or with questions.

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Visit the OSERS Blog and OSEP Update Archive

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This newsletter may reference and contain links to external sources. The opinions expressed in these sources do not reflect the views, positions, or policies of the U.S. Department of Education, nor should their inclusion be considered an endorsement of any private organization.