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Disability Rights of West Virginia



The Pandemic and Special Education

The American Rescue Plan Act

Article by Lori Waller, DRWV Staff Attorney

The American Rescue Plan Act

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) is designed to help the American public recover from the effects of the pandemic created by COVID-19.  Part of the money given to States through the ARP is specifically tagged for educational recovery.

The federal government gives each State a certain amount of money.  In turn, each State must give 90 percent or more of the money given to it for education recovery to local school districts.  Local schools can use the money to help in re-opening schools safely, in maintaining the safe operations of schools, and in addressing students’ learning loss, including students’ emotional and social wellbeing.

Local schools must use 20 percent or more of the money given to them by the State to address learning loss through the use of evidence-based interventions (using programs that have been shown to work) to respond to the full variety of students’ needs, including social needs, emotional needs, and academic needs.  This money also is to be used to deal with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain student subgroups, including children with disabilities.

ARP funds are to be used to address learning loss and for children with disabilities, this learning loss can come in many forms.  All children lost classroom instruction time and social time with others due to being forced to go to school virtually.  However, children with disabilities also lost other services, given the limitations of transferring those services to virtual delivery and due to social distancing during in person learning.

One recommended intervention is tutoring.  In providing tutoring to regain losses and move students forward: (1) tutors should be trained educators; (2) tutors should plan and collaborate with classrooms teachers; (3) wherever possible, tutoring should be done during the school day; and (4) tutoring should be done in high dosages each week (three sessions per week, preferably daily sessions).  Parents and guardians do not be afraid to ask for tutoring for your child(ren)!!  If your child needs tutoring, it is part of their right to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE).

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