Extended School Year (ESY) and Covid-19

Given the current situation with just about all schools across the nation shut down, along with expectations of social distancing, what should we reasonably expect out of extended school year (ESY) programming for students eligible for special education and related services? This post will seek to remind readers of the purpose of ESY and raise important questions educators should be asking relating to ESY.


Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services provided to students with disabilities beyond the 180-day school year. IDEA requires local educational agencies (LEAs) to provide ESY services if a student needs these services to receive FAPE. The reason for ESY is some eligible students will either regress too much during the break or take too long to recoup what is lost after a break. ESY services are provided during breaks in the educational schedule to prevent this loss. Importantly, ESY services are not daycare or respite services, and even though students may benefit from summer programming, not all students are eligible to receive services. The determination about ESY eligibility is a team decision, of which all members of the team should participate.

The Regulations

300.106 Extended school year services.

(a) General.

(1) Each public agency must ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide FAPE, consistent with paragraph (a)(2) of this section.

(2) Extended school year services must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, in accordance with §§300.320 through 300.324, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child.

(3) In implementing the requirements of this section, a public agency may not—

(i) Limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability; or

(ii)  Unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services.

(b) Definition. As used in this section, the term extended school year services means special education and related services that—

(1) Are provided to a child with a disability—

(i) Beyond the normal school year of the public agency;

(ii) In accordance with the child’s IEP; and

(iii) At no cost to the parents of the child; and

(2) Meet the standards of the SEA.

Maybe you caught the important word phrase in the previous section-provided during breaks in educational programming. We have never had a break in educational programming like we have had this year. This in conjunction with the fact most students who qualify for ESY programming tend to have more severe disabilities or need more intense services as they are learning merging skills, the need for services could not be more important than it is now. However, we will likely not see a quick end (at least not this summer) to school shut-downs so students who really need the services will continue to fall further behind.

Important Points Regarding ESY:

  • As written in IDEA Regulations, ESY is left to states to define and it is required for students if it is necessary to receive FAPE as defined by the IEP team.
  • ESY was not developed to ameliorate problems caused by a global pandemic.

Tips on How to make ESY Determinations?


June 2019 to the point schools closed in March 2020:

  • Determine student progress at the point schools closed.
  • Consider ESY based on prior regression data at this point (these students should have already been identified or decided through a typical IEP meeting).


March 2020 to June 2020

  • Document services offered.
  • Document services delivered.
  • Collect data on IEP goal progress during distance learning frameworks.


  • June 2020 through August 2020.
  • Summer programming provided is based on regression analysis to minimize or avoid further regression.

Summer 2020 Instruction

  • It is really not ESY but rather a continuation of education to mitigate the impact of regression over the summer.
  • Districts should consider compacting their instruction over this period of time.


ESY is going to be tough, just like the end of this past school year.


1) The determination of eligibility is an individual determination, not based on the student’s disability but based on the needs they present during the course of the school year.

2) All decisions related to ESY are IEP team decisions. These decisions should be documented with clear reasons why or why not ESY determinations were made.

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