CF and School During COVID-19

The following questions and answers address concerns from the community about COVID-19 and school.

4 min read

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Is it safe for my child to attend school in person? 

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all children attend school in person as long as safety measures are in place.
  • If you have questions about these safety measures, reach out to the administrators at your child’s school and/or the cystic fibrosis care team to discuss them or additional school accommodations based on your child’s needs. 
  • The option of distance learning should be available for all people whose health makes the risk of attending school in person too great.

How can I learn more about the risks from COVID-19 and what can reduce those risks at school?  

  • You can assess your or your child’s individual risk using this tool.
  • Your care team can help you consider the risks and benefits of in-person or distance learning.
  • You can learn more about individualized education plans (IEPs) and 504 plans on
  • The administrator or counselor at your child’s school can discuss the school’s plan for reducing the risk of COVID-19.
  • CF Foundation Compass case managers can help connect you to resources to understand your legal rights and how to navigate the process related to school accommodations.
"This fall, I expect my employer to pull the option of at-home learning for students and that our school district will no longer afford me the opportunity to teach from home." — Brad Johns, adult with CF, from the CF Community Blog

What are IEPs and 504 plans?

  • Parents of children with CF can request an individualized education plan (IEP) or a 504 plan for their child from their school. 
  • IEPs are generally used for students whose health conditions affect their ability to learn
  • 504 plans are used for students who need accommodations to access their education. 
  • Some schools will recommend 504 plans since CF does not cognitively affect a student’s ability to learn; however, many schools will recommend an IEP since missing school due to an exacerbation affects the student’s ability to learn. 
  • For IEPs and 504 plans, you will need to request an evaluation from the school. 
  • Ask your CF care center for a sample letter that your doctor can send to the school, explaining how CF affects your child and identifying accommodations that may help. 
  • Once a student qualifies for services, the school will hold a team meeting with the family to make an IEP or 504 plan.
  • CF Foundation Compass case managers can help connect you to resources to understand your legal rights and how to navigate the process.

Is it safe for my child to participate in extracurricular activities? 

  • The decision to allow your child to participate in extracurricular activities is based on personal circumstances. We recommend you speak with your child’s care team to discuss the best decision for your child. You can prepare for the discussion by considering the following factors:
    • Your child’s health
    • How common COVID-19 is in your community
    • Is the activity taking place outside and/or with a smaller group?
    • The plan the facility has for decreasing the risk of COVID-19 spread, such as physical distancing, mask use, or disinfecting equipment or the facilities.
    • If the activity’s risk is lower (singles tennis) or higher (wrestling).
"A dear friend who is also a mother of a child with CF reminded me, 'You know we're experts at risk-benefit decision-making, right? We've been doing this for years.'" — Breck Gamel, mother of a child with cystic fibrosis, from the CF Community Blog
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