During the 2021-22 school year, parents, guardians, and education rights holders can choose to have their children return to school for in-person instruction or enroll in remote learning through “independent study.” California schools will no longer have to offer a “distance learning” option to students like they did during the 2020-21 school year. School districts instead must offer independent study to students whose education rights holders determine their health would be at risk by returning to school in-person. For decades, independent study has been an optional program that California school districts, county offices of education and charter schools could provide to students. However, to accommodate families’ desires for remote learning options, the state recently changed the law to expand who can enroll in independent study and to improve certain aspects of it for the upcoming school year and into the future.
To help parents, guardians, education rights holders, and children figure out what learning option is best for them, the Alliance joined the National Center for Youth Law, ACLU in California and Children Now, along with other parent and education advocacy organizations, in publishing a guide that explains their rights to independent study for the 2021-22 school year. The guide also includes other information families should know at the beginning of the school year, including certain student privacy rights and information for English learners, students with disabilities, and foster youth.
- Distance Learning Available to Families Through Independent Study During the 2021-22 School Year: A Resource for Parents and Guardians
- Aprendizaje a Distancia Disponible Para Las Familias a Través del Estudio Independiente Durante el Año Escolar 2021-22: Un Recurso Para Padres y Tutores
- Know Your Rights! Distance Learning Through Independent Study During the 2021-22 School Year
- ¡Conoce Tus Derechos! Aprendizaje a Distancia a Través del Estudio Independiente Durante el Año Escolar 2021-22
- 10 Key Questions
- 10 Preguntas Clave
Questions and answers to providing services to children with disabilities have been shared by the Department of Education here.
- Special Education Guidance from the California Department of Education
- Special Education and Early Intervention Tips During COVID-19 Pandemic [ENGLISH]
- Consejos para la Educación Especial y la Intervención Temprana durante la Pandemia COVID-19 [SPANISH]
- Requesting a distance learning IEP during COVID-19: Download a Sample Request Letter: [ENGLISH] [SPANISH]
Track the special education services your child is provided during COVID-19 school closures. This will ensure you are ready to request compensatory services once schools reopen.
Technology for Distance Learning
iFoster is currently offering technology access to foster youth ages 13-24, which include: free, unlimited high-speed data hotspots, headsets, and laptops to assist in taking online classes. For additional information on the resources that they have, call or email iFoster at: 1-855-936-7837 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- LAUSD is providing free hotspots through Verizon to every student, not just one per household, to assist in distance learning. To request a hot spot device, visit device.lausd.net with access code LAUSD2020
- Internet For All Now: The California Emerging Technology Fund has provided access to affordable offers, as well as a number to call 1-844-841-INFO (4636) to assist parents.
- Charter is participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Households are eligible for a credit up to $50 a month and can qualify based on several criteria such as income level and eligibility for SSI benefits. To verify your eligibility, please click here and visit this link for more information on the EBB program.
- AT&T is waiving internet data overage fees for customers who have capped data plans. AT&T is also participating in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. Click here for further information.
- Programs available to help make Internet service more affordable: To see the latest programs for low-income internet click here.
Learning at Home Resources
- Academic Support for Students in Foster Care in LA County
- Educare: General Educare COVID webpage with parent resources here. Specific webpage for Los Angeles at Long Beach Educare school here.
- The Los Angeles Public Library is providing a free online tutoring program. Students and families just need a library card and a device to get support. Help is available every day from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM for K-12 students and adult learners.
- LA County Library has many digital resources you can access 24/7, no matter where you are. All you need is your library card number and PIN. Don’t have a Library card? Sign up for a Digital Library Card online that will give you access to all of the Library’s digital offerings, including eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, movies, TV, homework help, online classes, and more. Click here for more information.
- MIND Research Institute is offering no cost access to a free math instructional program for students in grades K-8
- Scholastic is offering free, online learning experiences for kids of all ages
- Amazing Educational Resources has compiled a comprehensive list of education companies offering free subscriptions due to school closings.
- The Safe Schools for All Hub consolidates key resources and information related to COVID-19 and schools. New resources will be added to the Hub on a routine business.
Trauma-informed Special Education Trainings
Trauma significantly impacts students in foster care, and can drastically impact their learning. The COVID-19 pandemic is exposing an increasing number of students to trauma as they are forced to shelter in place, are isolated from their peers and extended family members, face housing and food insecurities, and their parents deal with unemployment.
The Alliance offers free trauma informed education trainings for whole schools and district staff. Contact us to schedule a training for your district.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will schools be offering breakfast and lunch for those students eligible for free and reduced price meals while they are shut down?
On March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20regarding the physical closure of schools by local educational agencies (LEAs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order provides, among other things, that even if schools close temporarily because of COVID-19, LEAs will continue to receive state funding for those days so that they can provide school meals in non-congregate settings through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO), consistent with the requirements of the California Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Schools or other community organizations that are approved to operate the SSO or SFSP can serve non-congregate meals during COVID-19 at school sites that are dismissed or closed by submitting a request to the California Department of Education.
To allow for social distancing, non-congregate meal systems can vary based on community need and it is recommended that meals be taken away from the site and consumed elsewhere. Examples include:
- Distributing meals using a school food truck;
- Sending a box or bag meal(s) home with students for multiple days;
- Keeping some school sites open to allow students to receive a meal;
- Partnering with local libraries that remain open to serve meals, or
- Setting up a drive through system in the parking lot to minimize contact. Families can drive through and pick up a meal for all children in the vehicle. Please note, it is not permissible to provide meals to children who are not present.
In order to ensure that parents, guardians, and students are aware of the availability of meals, schools and community organizations should communicate in multiple languages the availability of meals as widely as possible.
Will lessons or other resources be available from school districts?
On March 13, 2020, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-26-20regarding the physical closure of schools by local educational agencies (LEAs) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order provides, among other things, that even if schools close temporarily because of COVID-19, LEAs will continue to receive state funding for those days to, among other things, continue delivering high-quality educational opportunities to students to the extent feasible through, among other options, distance learning and/or independent study.
The California Department of Education (CDE) and Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) are required to jointly issue guidance that will address the following subjects relevant to students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or Section 504 plans:
Implementing distance learning strategies and addressing equity and access issues that may arise due to differential access to internet connectivity and technology.
Ensuring students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with their IEP plan and meeting other procedural requirements pursuant to federal and state law.
LEAs are working to determine service delivery systems, taking into consideration the length of the closure, work restrictions on employees and contractors such as certified nonpublic schools and agencies, specific capabilities of the LEA, including technology capabilities for all distance learning, and anything else that can or cannot be implemented as specifically written in an IEP or Section 504 plan.
Are there childcare options open?
Executive Order N-26-20 also provides that local education agencies (LEAs) receiving funding during a physical closure due to COVID-19 should, to the extent practicable, arrange for supervision for students during ordinary school hours. The California Department of Education (CDE) has issued the following guidance for parents and guardians whose current childcare facility is closed:
Contact the administrative office of your childcare program to learn whether the program has a list of pop-up programs in your local area.
Contact the resource and referral (R&R) statewide consumer education hotline at 1-800-KIDS-793 or go to the website for child care referrals.
Contact your Regional Community Care Licensing (CCL) office, which may have a list of facilities and/or providers that can serve children at this time. A listing of offices can be found here.