Implications of COVID-19 on School Services for Children with Disabilities: Opportunities for Interagency Collaboration

J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2021 Apr 1;42(3):236-239. doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000921.


The transition to virtual and hybrid schooling given the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States has upended the education system and may be widening gaps in service disparities, particularly for children with disabilities. Schools often function as "de facto" service systems for most children with disabilities, particularly those from racially and ethnically minoritized, economically vulnerable, and bilingual populations. The impact of school closures on children with disabilities poses significant ramifications for the medical, behavioral health, and educational systems in which they are served, necessitating the need for pediatric clinicians to collaborate with schools in purposeful ways. This commentary (1) presents an overview of the current guidance for providing school-based services to children with disabilities during the COVID context with many schools operating in virtual or hybrid formats, (2) reviews potential service inequities exacerbated by school closures and lack of on-site services, and (3) offers recommendations for collaborating with school staff and community agencies in support of children and families with disabilities.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Disabled Children / education*
  • Education, Distance / methods
  • Education, Distance / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations*
  • Schools / organization & administration*
  • United States