Masks Not Mandatory for Students with Disabilities

We would like to share an update for students with disabilities returning to in-person classes. The following excerpt is from the California Department of Education.

“The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to supporting schools, families, and communities during the COVID–19 pandemic and this unprecedented time in education. Recently, the California Department of Education has been made aware of instances where students with disabilities may have been inappropriately excluded from educational environments for the inability to wear a face covering. The purpose of this notice is to remind local educational agencies (LEA) of state and federal guidance requiring face coverings, including allowable exemptions, in order to avoid implementing policies that may result in a denial of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

Students with disabilities must not be excluded from educational environments if their disability prevents them from wearing a face covering. LEAs must continue to adhere to least restrictive environment requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when educating students with disabilities, including educating students with disabilities with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate (34 Code of Federal Regulations §300.114). It is imperative that LEAs continue to monitor the applicability of existing exemptions to individual students with a disability and avoid implementation of policies related to face coverings that may result in a denial of FAPE under the IDEA. More information regarding students with disabilities and face coverings is available at https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/lr/om021121.asp.”

All students must wear face coverings at schools. If a student’s disability prevents them from wearing one, they are exempt from this requirement.