Since the Spring, the Board of Regents has repeatedly adopted an emergency regulation addressing the increased need for schools to provide instruction to students unable to attend due to health issues. The emergency regulation is anticipated to become permanent in January 2023. (8 NYCRR ¶100.22) Schools will be responsible to both provide additional instructional time to students and to be more accountable for that time.
Significant provisions of the emergency (anticipated to be permanent) regulation are as follows:
• A student is eligible for homebound instruction if the student is anticipated to be “unable to attend school in person for at least 10 days during a 3-month period due to illness or injury which requires the student to remain at home or in a hospital or other institution for the treatment of children” (our emphasis). The days of inability to attend school do not need to be consecutive.
• The illness or injury may be temporary or chronic; it may be based on physical, mental, emotional illness or injury.
• The student’s treating healthcare provider must document that the student is unable to participate in the usual education setting. The healthcare provider need not be a Medical Doctor, but must be licensed to diagnose.
• Parents must submit written medical verification demonstrating the student’s anticipated inability to attend school in person for at least 10 days during the next 3 months, as well as written authorization for the school district to follow up with the healthcare provider.
• The school district medical director must review the request for home instruction and may contact the student’s healthcare provider.
• Parents must be notified whether home instruction will be provided within 5 school days of receipt of the written medical verification.
• Parents may appeal the denial of home instruction to the Board of Education. Instruction is to be provided while the appeal is pending.
• A written instruction delivery plan to continue the student’s academic progress, specifying the number of hours per week and per day, the location of the services, the method of delivery, and how the services will enable the student to maintain academic progress, is required. It must be developed with parental input.
• The student must receive instruction for the number of days and length of time necessary to continue the student’s academic progress.
• The school district must maintain a record of the dates, amount and type of instructional services provided, including teacher’s name, subjects taught and location of services.
• For the 2022-2023 school year, a minimum of 5 hours per week at the elementary level and 10 hours per week at the secondary level is required.
• Beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, a minimum of 10 hours per week at the elementary level and fifteen hours per week at the secondary level is required. This applies to all resident students, including those attending a nonpublic school. Some of the above requirements may be inconsistent with current Board of Education policy. For example, schools may no longer require at least 10 days of consecutive absence before the homebound instruction kicks in. Now, the days need only be anticipated to be ten or more and need not be consecutive. Schools may no longer insist on a note issued by a medical doctor to support the need for instruction – any treating healthcare provider who is authorized to diagnose is sufficient. The regulation imposes significantly more accountability on schools to ensure that the student is continuing education.
The emergency regulation also requires the cooperation of the school medical director – contracts with the medical director for the next school year should be reviewed to ensure the ability to comply with this new procedure.
Finally, the minimum hours of instruction for the 2023-2024 school year will apply to home instruction provided pursuant to an IEP. It also is likely to apply to the alternative instruction required to be provided during the suspension from school of a student of compulsory attendance age.
Stay tuned for final action by the Board of Regents. Be aware that the emergency regulation is in effect now. And, review policy and contracts to reflect the new requirements.