Q: Our District is considering Extended-School-Year (“ESY”) services for students with disabilities during Summer 2020. Will school limitations resulting from COVID-19 affect the provision of ESY?
A: Yes. Although school closures may impact the method of delivery for ESY services during Summer 2020, a District is required to make appropriate adjustments once it has determined ESY services are necessary to meet the individual needs of a student.
ESY services are defined by 19 TAC § 89.1065 as individualized instruction and services to prevent the severe or substantial loss of skills or learning beyond the regular school year when schools are not in session. See also 34 C.F.R. § 300.106. The decision to provide ESY services is determined at the annual Admission, Review, and Dismissal (“ARD”) committee meeting under 34 C.F.R. § 300.324(b)(1). The need for ESY services may also be addressed by a subsequent ARD committee meeting or through a proposed amendment to the IEP which complies with procedural safeguards. ESY services are required only if the ARD committee determines and documents in the IEP that, in one or more critical areas in IEP goals and objectives, the student has exhibited, or reasonably may be expected to exhibit, severe or substantial regression that cannot be recouped within a reasonable period of time. In Texas, severe and substantial regression means that the student has been, or will be, unable to maintain one or more acquired critical skills in the absence of ESY services.
For ESY services during Summer 2020, the ARD committee was required to rely on data collected during the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, the ARD committee would have considered parental observations during distance learning. If a review of existing data and parental input indicated a need for ESY services, then the ARD committee should have determined how best to deliver ESY services. The method of delivery for ESY services is secondary to the determination that services are needed for students with disabilities.
In compliance with guidance from the local health department in conjunction with TEA guidance on operations for summer instruction, the District may provide on-campus ESY services during Summer 2020. On June 9, 2020, TEA issued guidance for summer instruction, amending the social distancing provisions. A copy of that guidance can be located HERE. The referenced guidelines pertain to face-to-face instruction; however, if appropriate, the District may provide for the continuation of virtual learning for students eligible for ESY services.
For specific questions or additional information regarding summer school ESY, please contact your local school attorney.