Long COVID as a Disability Under Section 504 and the IDEA

By Special Education Attorney & Certified Child Advocate, Jeffrey L. Forte, Esq. | Forte Law Group LLC

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, children have unfortunately been contracting the virus. And, with the increase associated with the new COVID delta variant strain, medical experts are referring to what some call “long COVID.” The United States Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services recently issued new guidance for public schools to follow whereby children with long COVID may be recognized as having a disability under either Section 504 or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Specifically, if symptoms persist in the form of long COVID, a child may need new or different related aids and services, specialized instruction, or reasonable modifications. Such services may be delivered through the IDEA with an individualized education program (IEP) under the disability eligibility category of Other Health Impairment (OHI) if as child has limited strength, vitality, or alertness due to a chronic or acute health program that adversely affects the child’s education performance.

Alternatively, under Section 504, a child has a disability if they: (1) have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity; (2) have a record of such an impairment; or (3) are regarded as having such an impairment. The most important thing that you can do as a parent is to request that your child be properly evaluated by both your local public-school team as well as any private or outside medical providers. You can also consider speaking with a special education lawyer that handles long COVID as a disability under the IDEA or Section 504.

To read the full guidance issued by the U.S. Dept of Ed, click here.