Early Learning Newsletter | August 2021 | Celebrating Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month


The U.S. Department of Education's Early Learning Newsletter

Celebrating Children’s Eye Health and
Safety Awareness Month

August 2021

girl peeking from sheets

Forwarded this email? Click here to subscribe.

In This Issue:

From the Directors

David Cantrell and Jamila Smith

Hello, Early Learning Leaders!

August is Children’s Eye Health and Safety Awareness Month. In celebration, the Department of Education’s Voices from the Field interview highlights the importance of eye health and vision in a child’s development. Resources are included that support parents, caregivers, educators, and providers in monitoring vision development as well as eye health and safety for young children of all abilities. We have also included fun and engaging resources for families with young children as they enjoy summer travel or spending time at home. We continue to focus our efforts to provide childcare, early education organizations, and schools with guidance that helps children be safe and healthy during in-person learning.

Thank you for reading "Early Learning"!

David Cantrell, Ph.D.
Acting Director and Deputy Director
Office of Special Education Programs
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services

Jamila Smith
Director, Innovation and Early Learning Programs
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education


Project Spotlight

Bridge Multimedia

Award Winning Accessible Programs

Bridge Multimedia, a recipient of a Department-funded Television Access grant, provided the audio descriptions for 13 Emmy Award-nominated shows and one Emmy Award-winning program. The 2021 Children’s Emmy Award winner, PBS KIDS Talk About, is a series that explores racial identity, inequity, racism, justice, and “good trouble.” Bridge Multimedia also provided disability portrayal consultancy for the Emmy Award-nominated shows, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum (PBS KIDS).


Early Learning Updates

Young child in mask

Long COVID under Section 504 and the IDEA: A Resource to Support Children, Students, Educators, Schools, Service Providers, and Families

The Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) have issued a new resource: Long COVID under Section 504 and the IDEA: A Resource to Support Children, Students, Educators, Schools, Service Providers, and Families. Many children have contracted COVID-19 and are still experiencing its effects, in the form of what has come to be called “long COVID.” The resource provides information about long COVID as a disability and about schools’ and public agencies’ responsibilities for the provision of services and reasonable modifications to children and students for whom long COVID is a disability.

Ventilation System

Improving Ventilation in Schools, Colleges, and Universities to Prevent COVID-19

The Department recently released a resource to help schools, colleges, and universities improve their ventilation systems to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and provide healthy learning environments. The resource outlines how schools can invest American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to improve indoor air quality, such as the inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrading of projects in school facilities.


Voices From the Field

Paulette Tattersall

Interview with Paulette Tattersall

We recently interviewed Paulette Tattersall, who shares how her work supports and educates children, families, educators and providers on the importance of eye health and safety. We invite you to read the full interview on the OSERS blog.


This Month’s Recommended Resources

Young child in glasses

Small Steps for Big Vision

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resource and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health developed Small Steps for Big Vision: An Eye Health Information Tool Kit for Parents and Caregivers. The Center also hosted a webinar, Why Vision Matters for Children with Special Needs, and posted the recording on their website.

Logo: STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center

Adaptations & Teaching Practices in Early Education

The Department-funded STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education Center (STEMIE) recently released two guides on including young children with disabilities in STEM learning opportunities. The first guide provides information on how adults can make adaptations to support the access and full participation of young children in STEM learning opportunities. The second is a guide to teaching practices that help facilitate children’s participation in everyday routines, learning experiences, and activities.

Masked girl at school desk

Updated Guidance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released updated Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools. The updated guidance focuses on helping administrators in K-12 schools, along with state and local health officials, safely support in-person learning, as well as sports and other extracurricular activities.


Developing Young Children’s Math Skills

The Department’s Institute of Education Sciences’ Regional Educational Laboratory Program (Central, Appalachia, and Northwest), has developed resources to provide quick tips, evidence-based activities and games, and videos that families and caregivers can use at home to support math learning for children ages 2-8.

kid in a car

Traveling with Children

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) requires all passengers to be screened while traveling. There are modified screening procedures for children under the age of 13, as well as for children with medical conditions, disabilities, or mobility aids.


Featured Webinar

Chatathon banner

Child Tax and Child and Dependent Care Credits

Please join the HHS Office of Head Start’s National Center on Parent, Family, and Community Engagement on Aug. 26 for a chatathon to discuss the American Rescue Plan’s (ARP) monthly child allowance and other tax credits available to families. The session will be live, with staff available to answer as many questions as possible.


Funding Opportunities

mother and child reading

National Comprehensive Center on Improving Literacy for Students With Disabilities

The Department has published a Notice Inviting Applications for its FY 2021 National Comprehensive Center on Improving Literacy for Students With Disabilities grant competition. The purpose of the grant competition is to fund a cooperative agreement to establish and operate a National Comprehensive Center on Improving Literacy for Students with Disabilities to support children in early childhood education programs through high school.

The application deadline is Sept. 1.


Connect With Us Online!

Check out the Early Learning newsletter archive.


Twitter Logo Blue

Be sure to follow us on Twitter — @Ed_Sped_Rehab — and tell your friends.


OSERS Blog icon 96x96

Check out more early learning stories, including "Voices From the Field" posts, on OSERS Blog.