How to Serve Your Special Populations During a Pandemic

Your special populations have unique needs, and the coronavirus pandemic has presented unique challenges. School closures are important for protecting public health in the fight against COVID-19, but they put stress on the families and students who depend on the support, services, daily meals, and safe place their school district normally provides.

Districts need make sure they’re following best practices and complying with the law in providing services and planning for the return from the COVID-19 crisis for multiple populations, including:

  • English language learners
  • Students experiencing homelessness
  • Students of military personnel
  • Foster care students
  • Pregnant and post-partum students
  • Students served in gifted and talented programs

In the webinar below, Addressing Special Populations During and After COVID-19, Rebecca Bailey, Jessica Witte, and Stephen Villarreal with Thompson & Horton LLP walk you through what you need to know. They cover ways to meet the needs of and serve special populations during the COVID-19 school closures, and how your school district can safely and effectively support special populations both during and after this unprecedented event.

English language learners

Even in emergency situations, like COVID-19-related school closures, state and federal law require school districts to provide equal access to the curriculum for English learners through bilingual and ESL programs.

If your school district is closed due to COVID-19, but is providing educational opportunities to the general student population during the closure, you must make sure that English learners also have equal access to the same opportunities.

This webinar examines school districts’ options for providing English learners with equal access to educational opportunities, best practices for documenting the provision of services, and any possible legal implications.

Students experiencing homelessness

Your district must also have processes in place to make sure students experiencing homelessness are able to access school services and meals, consistent with the applicable McKinney-Vento Act requirements.

Children experiencing homelessness do not have a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. This includes any children and youths in your district who are:

  • Sharing the housing of others due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason
  • Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations
  • Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings
  • Living in emergency or transitional shelters
  • Are abandoned in hospitals
  • Have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings

The webinar will cover best practices for school district personnel to check in on student safety and well-being and ensure access to virtual or distance learning opportunities for students experiencing homelessness.

Webinar: Addressing Special Populations During and After COVID-19

This free webinar covers the provision of services to these special populations as schools navigate through and return from the COVID-19 crisis, including requirements for the identification, selection, and delivery of services to these individuals.

View the presentation slides (pdf), provided by the presenter.

Legal disclaimer

The information provided during this webinar series is for educational purposes only to facilitate a general understanding of the law or other regulatory matter. This information is neither an exhaustive treatment on the subject nor is this intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney or other professional advisor. Consult with your attorney or professional advisor to apply these principles to specific fact situations. The views and opinions expressed in this presentation are those of the presenters and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of Texas Association of School Boards, Inc., its affiliated entities, or its officers, board members, or employees.

Get help with your special populations programs from TASB!

Our extensive analysis of data-driven services can help your programs be more effective. Meet your goals for educational compliance and student success with special populations. TASB offers comprehensive special populations program reviews that include:

  • Folder review
  • Focused stakeholder interviews
  • Data-driven workload analysis

Learn more about the multiple services TASB Student Solutions offers to help you meet your goals for educational compliance and student success with special populations.

Call TASB at 888.247.4829 or email studentsolutions@tasb.org for more information!