From the onset of this COVID-19 pandemic, The Arc of Massachusetts has been working behind the scenes with other organizations to collaborate and advocate directly to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (MADESE) to enhance remote learning to include the delivery of supports and related services to special education students within the Commonwealth.
As our team got into this week’s update, we realized there was way too much to report – and this update is still pretty long! We will be expanding our existing COVID-19 Updates Center to two pages in the upcoming several days. We hope it will be easier to navigate, so all can see what’s happening and access action items on your own time.
The Arc is working collaboratively with organizations on the issue of health are triage and appreciates the coordination/work of the Center for Public Representation (CPR) in this process. We will be reaching out to families to advance changes to the present “Crisis of Standards of Care” released by the Commonwealth on April 7. The changes are consistent with an outcome yesterday in a filing by CPR in Alabama. Though Massachusetts Standards are different than Alabama, existing language is inadequate to protect persons with disabilities. Later today, we will ask families and individuals to share their voice on this issue
While the 2nd Coronavirus stimulus package (Families First Coronavirus Response Act – FFCRA) and the 3rd $2 trillion stimulus package (CARES Act) passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump offers some real benefits to people with disabilities during the COVID-19 epidemic, there are several ways the legislative acts falls short in addressing the needs of the disability community – for instance leaving out paid leave for many family caregivers of people with disabilities and opens up potential harm to the rights of students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).