Skip to main content

COVID-19 In-Person or Virtual Requests for Accommodations: What You Need to Know

Colleges and universities have announced their reopening plans for the fall. Whether institutions plan to resume in-person instruction, offer only online instruction, or hybrid models combining the two, they will have to determine how best to accommodate faculty, staff, and students who request accommodations under federal and other disability laws. While many institutions have well-established policies and procedures for such requests, the coronavirus has introduced a number of novel issues with which they will have to grapple as they strive to maintain accessible, healthy learning environments where members of the campus community feel safe.

For example, faculty members may request accommodations to virtually teach due to a fear of contracting coronavirus—but does this type of anxiety qualify as a “disability” under the ADA? Does the analysis change if the faculty member is 60 years or older and/or has an underlying condition that could lead to an increased risk of severe illness from the disease? Similarly, students who fear contracting the virus may request single room housing accommodations or modifications to clinical training programs traditionally performed in-person. In addition to these types of requests, institutions offering some or much of their instruction online will need to ensure that students maintain equal access in an online learning environment. Moreover, how will colleges and universities handle accommodation requests which might conflict with recommended public health guidelines (e.g., requests to not wear masks or other personal protective equipment)?

This two-hour webinar will focus on how institutions of higher education can best assess and address the likely types of COVID-19 related disability accommodation requests they will receive this fall upon a return to instruction. The webinar presenters will examine relevant legal principles and offer practical solutions for campuses as they work to provide accessible and safe learning and working environments when they reopen.

Who Should Attend?

This webinar will be of interest to attorneys who advise institutions on COVID-19-related issues and counsel or other administrators involved in coronavirus or return-to-instruction task forces or committees as well as attorneys who advise colleges and universities on accessibility and disability related issues and administrators or other personnel involved in accessibility and disability services.