No. The California Constitution guarantees students receive a free public education. This guarantee means that students in public schools cannot be charged fees for instructional materials or to participate in instructional activities. If participating in your school’s distance learning requires a laptop, tablet, or internet connectivity, the school has to make sure your child has access to the necessary equipment.
If your teacher requires that you pay for equipment, like computer devices or internet access, you should let your school know and ask that they provide you with what you need for free. If your school insists that you pay for equipment so your child can participate in distance learning, you have the right to file a complaint if you believe that your school is requiring you to pay an illegal fee. For more information about California’s “free school guarantee” or how to file a complaint with your school visit https://www.aclusocal.org/en/know-your-rights/free-public-education-california.
Yes. The device must be able to provide your child with access to classes, assignments, and curriculum. Reach out to your school Principal immediately to receive a functioning device. If one is not provided, consider filing a complaint.
Yes, with exceptions. If you do not return property loaned to your child by the school or if you purposefully damage the property, you may be responsible to pay for the replacement cost. The replacement cost cannot be more than $10,000. However, you should not have to pay for normal “wear and tear” of a device, if it is stolen, or if the device was accidentally damaged. Your school is required to analyze every situation on a case-by-case basis.
Your school is not allowed to charge a security deposit when your child is loaned a device as a guarantee that it won’t get lost or damaged.
Maybe. Daily participation during distance learning is required. For each day that your school provides instruction, your child must participate unless:
There is evidence that your child participated in online activities.
Your child completed regular assignments.
Your child completed assessments.
You were in contact with a teacher or other school staff.
Schools are required to create procedures to reach out to students who are absent from distance learning for more than three school days or 60 percent of the instructional days in a school week. If your child is not completing assignments or not participating in online activities, your school should reach out to you to find out what is happening and offer support. Most schools recognize the value of starting with engagement and problem-solving and not disciplinary action. Ask your school for more information about its attendance policies and procedures related to absenteeism.
Yes. California law requires school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to provide nutritionally adequate breakfast and lunch to students who are eligible for free and reduced-price meals, whether they are engaged in in-person instruction or distance learning. Additionally, information about how to pick up the meals should be communicated in the language and format the parent understands.
Yes. If your school is providing distance learning, your child has a right to an education as an English learner. Your school must provide language instruction services and continue to provide English language development instruction. Schools are given the flexibility to determine how best to ensure your child is advancing towards the English language proficiency required by their grade-level. This means that services might be provided virtually, online, or on the telephone. Your child’s language program might look different than it did during in-person instruction, but your school must make every effort to continue to provide your child with the services they would normally receive.
If your school was not able to administer the English Language Proficiency Assessments for California (ELPAC) during the 2019-20 school year because the school closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, your child will have the opportunity to take the optional Summative ELPAC during the extension of the window, beginning on August 20, 2020. Contact your child’s school to learn more.
Yes. Your child’s IEP or 504 Plan is valid during this time. However, the way to access those services may be different during distance learning. The government has not waived any special education or disability related laws, but they are being flexible with how schools meet these requirements. This can mean administering services and instruction online or on the phone.
Yes. Special education laws have not been waived during the COVID-19 pandemic, so schools are still required to hold IEP meetings. IEP meetings in most cases will be virtual, but the same people still have to attend (teacher, counselor, vice-principal, parent/guardian). Written consent from your parent or guardian is still required, but this can be done electronically.
You can also read guidance issued by the state and federal government:
United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights “Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities” (March 21, 2020).
California Department of Education, “Special Education Guidance for COVID-19” (April 9, 2020).
United States Department of Education, “Questions and Answers On Providing Services To Children With Disabilities During The Coronavirus Disease 2019 Outbreak” (March 2020).