Tune in to this episode for the latest on education rights and COVID-19. For an overview on recommendations and educational rights, like Section 504 plans and Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), check out episode 18 from July 2020: Back to School & College During COVID-19.
By Rebecca Gillett, MS OTR/L, co-host of the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast
Where did summer go? I feel like we blinked, and we’re back to talking about how to stay safe in schools with the delta variant of the coronavirus surging across the globe. But wait, we already had this discussion, and I thought we’d be “back to normal” for school? Is there a back to normal? Once again, we find ourselves asking more questions than we have answers to.
Depending on the county and school district you live in, the rules are very different. Vaccination rates in your area will play a role in how you safely navigate school. Whether you’re a parent of a student with arthritis, a teacher or school employee, or a college or graduate school student, knowing your rights to accommodations and staying safe in a school environment are key if you have arthritis, especially for those who are immunocompromised or at high risk due to other health factors.
The one thing that researchers and experts have said about protecting ourselves from contracting any variant of the coronavirus is that we get vaccinated. However, as this might not be an option for some people and some precautions have been lifted, such as mask and social distancing mandates, knowing what protections you can ask for in a school or college setting can be confusing.
That’s why we brought back education rights attorney Heidi Goldsmith, Esq., to help us figure out what protections for students are available as they relate to accommodations and staying safe from COVID-19. The biggest difference this year, of course, is that vaccinations are available, and we do know more than we did last year about what we can do to stay healthy. Heidi walks us through options that may be available for anyone needing assistance with back-to-school support and helps us understand our rights to accommodations in this episode, Back to School and College During COVID-19, Part 2.
After a year and a half of dealing with COVID-19, we do know the basic things we can control to protect ourselves: handwashing, wearing a mask and social distancing, especially in large, public areas; and keeping inflammation at bay and our disease under control by staying on top of our medications and treatment plans. These are all things we can control, but arming yourself with knowledge about your rights as a parent, student or employee in a school or college environment will help you better advocate for your needs. Tune in now to learn about those education rights and how to appeal decisions that may affect you or your family.