The use of telehealth services has increased considerably as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. Telehealth is the use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, to access health care services remotely. For example, when someone attends an appointment with their doctor via video conferencing, they are taking advantage of telehealth services. The recent expansion of telehealth — as a way to enable people to access medical care while maintaining social distance — has allowed students, youth and young adults with disabilities to access necessary services, such as occupational therapy, speech therapy and mental health counseling services, from their homes.
The transition from in-person to telehealth services has not been perfect. Not all students have technology devices or can reliably access the internet and, by extension, telehealth services. In addition, certain services, such as physical therapy, translate less effectively in a virtual environment. Yet, states have made efforts to continue providing services to students, including those with disabilities, through telehealth and teletherapy.
Offering resources to service professionals providing telehealth services to students and young adults
The Florida Department of Education developed a resource for psychologists, social workers, school counselors and school nurses to utilize technology to provide services for students during remote learning: Telehealth for Student Services Professionals. It also provides national resources for services such as speech and language, physical and occupational therapies.
Arkansas published information for operating school health programming during the COVID-19 outbreak. The state provided guidance on occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, behavioral health, Medicaid and school nursing services. Additionally, the Arkansas Department of Education released a comprehensive Q&A document related to the provision of health services through telehealth such as teletherapy and Medicaid coverage.
The Delaware Department of Education also provided schools with numerous resources to continue school counseling services.
Educating providers about the legal considerations of delivering telehealth services to students
The Kentucky Department of Education released information on telehealth in its Community Agencies Working in Kentucky Public Schools During COVID-19 resource. This included a webinar which addressed the following topics: 1) use of electronic consent for release of information, 2) use of various technology platforms, 3) presence of non-students in virtual learning environments, 4) HIPAA regulation waivers, and 5) release of personally identifiable information (PII) without consent for emergency health and safety reasons. Additionally, it shared information on flexibility for Medicaid billing of telehealth services and HIPAA flexibility during the pandemic.
Telehealth.hhs.gov: This federal government website provides resources to help patients understand and access telehealth services, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Telehealth: Delivering Care Safely During COVID-19: This U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website offers information for health care providers on utilizing telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
State Medicaid & CHIP Telehealth Toolkit: This toolkit provides policy considerations for states expanding use of telehealth.
COVID-19 Telehealth Toolkit: This resource from the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers describes telehealth, its role during the pandemic and how it is covered under public and private insurance plans.
Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency: The Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued guidelines for how health providers can navigate HIPAA Rules to continue serving patients, especially individuals with disabilities, during the pandemic.
How Private Insurers Are Using Telehealth to Respond to the Pandemic: This document provides a summary of private insurers’ responses to the pandemic.
The Michigan Developmental Disabilities Institute developed the resource “Telehealth & You” to communicate information on telehealth services as well as debunk some common telehealth myths.
A guide developed by the Office of Human Services Policy at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides information on available streams of funding for internet access and devices. It is aimed to serve three audiences: human services providers, educational institutions and individuals and families.
Special Education – Frequently Asked Questions
Special Education Guidance for COVID-19: SY 2020—2021 School Reentry
School Health Services COVID-19 School Closure Guidance
Supports and Accommodations for Students with Disabilities.
Guidance for Special Education for Extended AMI
Executive Order 20-48
Speech and Language COVID Resources
Serious Emotional Disability, Social Emotional Learning, Mental Health & Behavior
State and Federal Special Education COVID-19 Guidance
Learning Supports for Students with Disabilities
Tele-Facilitation within Alternative Dispute Resolution
Special Education Guidance and Resources for COVID-19
Remote Learning Resources for Delaware Districts and Charter Schools
School-Based Counseling, Health and Related Services in a Remote Learning Environment
BEESS COVID-19 Updates
Georgia’s K-12 Restart Working Group: Mental Health and Wellness
Resources for School Counseling Programs
Hawai’i Keiki Program
Medicaid School-Based Services Guidance for Back-to School 2020
Guidelines for Providing Medicaid School-Based Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Frequently Asked Questions for Special Education During Remote Learning
COVID-19 (coronavirus) Guidance for Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services Stakeholders
Telehealth from Community Agencies Working in Kentucky Public Schools During Covid
Continuous Education for Students with Disabilities: Direct Services
Mental and Behavioral Health
Special Education and COVID-19 Questions and Answers: Special Education Instruction, Services, Programming, Funding and Resources
DESE Office of Special Education Compliance
COVID-19 Related School Reopening and Distance Learning
Question and Answer Guide
Re-Opening Montana’s Schools 2020 COVID-19 Special Education Information
The Road Back: Restart and Recovery Plan for Education
Telehealth Guidelines for Service Providers
FAQ – Expanded Use of Telehealth for School-Based Health Services During COVID-19
Ensuring Equity and Access Aligning State and Federal Requirements
COVID-19 Resources for Special Education
Oregon’s Extended School Closure EI/ECSE Medicaid Guidance
Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education
School Nursing and Telehealth V.2
School Physical Therapy and Telehealth
School Occupational Therapy and Telehealth V.3
School Speech Language Pathology and Telehealth V.3
Mental Health Guidance for School Counselors, Other Mental Health Professionals and Administrators
Navigating the 2020-2021 School Year: ODDS Guidance for Case Management Entities and Families
COVID-19 Support: Special Education
VDOE Special Education and Student Services Frequently Asked Questions
Guidance Relating to Non-Discrimination in Medical Treatment During Novel Coronavirus 2019
Teleservice Considerations for Related Services During the Current Public Health Emergency
What Families Need to Know about Additional Services Due to Extended School Closure
Preparing for Discussions on Additional Services: What Families Can Do