Dear County and District Superintendents, Special Education Local Plan Area Directors, Special Education Administrators at County Offices, Special Education Program Directors, Charter School Administrators, Principals, and Nonpublic School Directors:
Students with Disabilities and Face Coverings
The purpose of this notice is to provide an update for local educational agencies (LEA) of the current state guidance regarding face coverings, including allowable exemptions in order to avoid implementing policies that may result in a denial of a free and appropriate public education.
LEAs must continue to adhere to least restrictive environment requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when educating students with disabilities, including ensuring students with disabilities are educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate (34 Code of Federal Regulations § 300.114). It is imperative that students with disabilities not be excluded from educational environments should their disability require a school-related health service. Although there is no longer a statewide mask or face coverings mandate, masks and face coverings are still strongly recommended by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the CDPH strongly recommend school-wide layered prevention strategies to preserve in-person learning.
The most up to date guidance for mask requirements in schools can be found on the CDPH website at https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/K-12-Guidance-2021-22-School-Year.aspx .
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released a letter to educators and parents with updated information and CDC guidance. The letter can be accessed at https://www2.ed.gov/documents/coronavirus/letter-to-educators-and-parents-regarding-new-cdc-recommendations-03-24-2022.pdf (PDF).
Should there be any questions related to the above information, please contact the Special Education Division via e-mail at CDESPEDDIRECTOR@cde.ca.gov.
Heather Calomese, Director
Special Education Division
Opportunities for All Branch