As we transition to digital learning models, due to COVID-19, it’s important to remember that students with disabilities, those without access to the internet, and other under-represented populations are at higher risk of experiencing school closures more intensely.

To help ensure equity for all students, ask yourself the following questions when planning digital instruction:

Clarifying your goals

  • What kind of decision is under consideration (e.g., policy, program, budget)?
  • Do all my students have access to the internet? If not, who does? Who does not?
  • Should I assign digital work to students if I don’t know whether they have internet access? How much flexibility should be built into digital learning experiences and assignments?
  • How do I ensure my students with disabilities are properly accommodated?
  • What results or changes am I seeking that advance racial/social justice?

Engaging necessary stakeholders

  • Who is most directly impacted (think: those who are marginalized or under-represented, e.g., educators or students of color, students with disabilities, rural students, lowest-paid workers)?
  • How can they be meaningfully engaged and empowered in this process?

Analyzing data

  • What is the relevant history and current context?
  • What data do we have, and what do we need? Is it disaggregated by race?
  • Who benefits, and who is most burdened? How are different racial/ethnic groups affected differently?
  • What are the root causes of the problem? Are there intersecting dynamics?

Generating options

  • What proposed solutions can address the root causes, remedy existing negative impacts, and change systems?
  • How will this proposal advance racial and social justice, equity, and inclusion?

Assessing impacts

  • What are the positive and negative impacts on different racial communities?
  • How will marginalized groups and communities of color benefit from each option?
  • How can this help counteract dominant patterns of white supremacy?
  • What positive values, norms, and narratives can we affirm and project?
  • How does this align with our values, vision, mission, and priorities?

Deciding a Solution

  • What are the pros and cons of each option?
  • Are there ways to revise the options to prevent adverse consequences?
  • Which option best advances equity?

Developing an implementation plan

  • What strategies, staffing, and funding are needed to ensure success?
  • What is the implementation plan and timetable? Who will move it forward?
  • How will we document and measure progress? What are the success indicators?
  • How can we ensure ample communication, participation, and accountability?

Operationalizing equitable change

  • How can we operationalize equity practices to sustain success?
  • How do we institute these changes, so they become ongoing practices, protocols, and habits, i.e., a part of our organizational culture?


Considerations for Special Education Administrators- A list of considerations for special education administrators from how to talk about COVID-19 to how schools should respond to the pandemic.

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