ASHA calls on school districts across the country to make the safety of audiologists, speech-language pathologists, other school staff and faculty, students, and families their top priority as they develop plans for the coming school year.

We know our school-based members are facing considerable challenges and obstacles brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that threaten not only safety but also effective treatment. With so many factors at play (including health and safety, equitable access for marginalized and low-income communities, and service-delivery needs), school districts across the country must be flexible and accommodating in making decisions about re-opening. Although plans will look different from district to district, all decisions must be evidence-based.

School districts should use data-driven guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other public health entities to prioritize the safety of audiologists and SLPs, assistants, students, families, and other school personnel while delivering the highest quality education and related services possible. When evidence points to unsafe conditions, ASHA urges offering remote learning only, along with telepractice services to meet the needs of children with communication disorders. Schools must receive appropriate funding for distance learning and service delivery.

If and when a school physically re-opens, that’s only a first step. Schools must also receive enough funding and resources—including adequate supplies of appropriate personal protective equipment—so they can operate safely and effectively.

We recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach is inappropriate and insufficient. Decisions should be based not on politics, but on science and focus on the well-being of students, staff, and families.

To our school-based members: We know this is stressful and difficult. We hear you and your concerns, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf. Please read our ASHA Board of Directors advocacy position on reopening schools for more information.