BYU Education & Law Journal


Melia Cerrato


COVID-19 pandemic impact on U.S. education, distance learning during the pandemic, Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)


In March 2020, the United States went into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, school districts were given little guidance on whether to cancel classes, provide distance learning, or give a mix of both. There are over 7 million students with disabilities, and while it is unknown how many of these were denied access to their statutory right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE)1 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the multitude of class action lawsuits that arose out of the shutdown demonstrate how wide-spread the problem was for families. However, the denial of a FAPE is not unique to COVID-19 times and is the number one claim against schools in the pre-pandemic era. Students with dis-abilities that are denied a FAPE are entitled to have schools provide them the education they missed – also known as compensatory education. This Article presents the problematic nature of the current compensatory education scheme that has been brought to fore be-cause of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and proposes legislation which would ensure that all children with disabilities have the same opportunity to enjoy their rights under the IDEA, not just those from affluent families.