The COVID-19 global pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to education systems and brought to light issues that were previously present but unaddressed. As schools shut down and moved to virtual learning, we began hearing from parents of children with learning disabilities, and how they were struggling to meet their children’s needs in a remote learning environment. Parents and teachers were struggling to provide the best education possible for their students, and concerns about FAPE were quickly surfacing. Students with learning disabilities were struggling, and continue to struggle, with disruption to their routines and learning environments, increased stress, anxiety, and depression.
When it became clear that schools would not reopen for the spring of 2020, LDA immediately focused its advocacy efforts in Washington to ensure no disruption to FAPE. Through a letter to the Secretary of Education, LDA urged the U.S. Department of Education to reconsider offering any recommendations to Congress for additional waivers needed for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, pursuant to Section 3511 of the CARES Act. In addition, LDA sent a letter to congressional leadership urging congress to maintain the civil rights protections guaranteed by IDEA, to increase funding for IDEA in any additional COVID-19 relief packages, and to increase funding to national and regional centers that work with families to develop best practices to address parent and school needs during extended school closures. LDA also signed on to letters from other coalitions and advocacy groups, and sent out action alerts to our members urging them to contact their national leaders.
In order to support and educate parents, teachers, and students during the pandemic, LDA launched a series of free webinars. These webinars covered a multitude of topics and challenges brought about by COVID, including trauma informed care, helping students with anxiety and depression, strategies for supporting students at home, special considerations for English language learners in remote learning, and many more relevant topics. LDA also joined the Educating All Learners Alliance (EALA) and presented jointly with other members of the Alliance on the challenges of intersectional learners during the pandemic.
Hope is the choice to see beyond our current situation to something better, despite feelings of fear, anxiety and uncertainty about the future. This year, we have all experienced loss, grief, and disappointment. But together we have hope, and we will emerge from these challenges with a new perspective on life, love, and what is truly important. LDA remains committed to helping the learning disabilities community in all circumstances, and we consider it an honor to serve all whose lives are affected by learning disabilities.
From all of us at LDA, we wish you a safe and joyful 2021!
Cindy Cipoletti, Esq.
Executive Director, LDA
About Cindy Cipoletti
Education: B.A. & J.D. from Duquesne University
Area(s) of experience and expertise: Law, Child Advocacy, Social Services and Nonprofit Leadership.
Why LDA? As a parent, I understand how challenging and difficult it is watching your child struggle to learn. You know your child is smart, but yet the challenges to learning are there. You feel helpless, frustrated, and desperate for answers. LDA provides those answers, and helps all individuals with learning disabilities reach their full potential and succeed in school, in the workplace, and in their relationships.
Fun Fact: Proud owner of 2 pet ducks.