I know every parent out there, whether their child has an IEP or not, is asking this question right now. I will provide my framework for making this decision and hopefully you can use these steps to make your own decision for your kids.
The first thing my wife and I considered was the benefit of in-person schooling. Our son loves going to school. He has friends and enjoys seeing them. He never has anything other than a "great" school day, so this is a real point in the favor of going back to school. Especially given the fact that he is autistic and his social skills have exploded in the last year.
That said, we do not believe that his interactions will be anywhere near the level they were prior to COVID-19. He will see fewer kids, and the current in-person options in our county only offer 2 days a week. So we asked ourselves "is the risk of exposure to the coronavirus worth 2 days of limited social interaction?"
Our answer was no. That's one strike for in-person school.
The next thing we considered was the risk. As we all know, news on the virus, what it does, how fast it spreads, and what we can expect afterward changes daily. In fact, we are one of many families experiencing "virus news fatigue" to the extent that we limit what we read on COVID-19. However, our son has a compromised immune system. His pediatric neurologist was concerned prior to attending school last year before anyone thought COVID could be a thing. We know for certain he is against him going back now.
So that's another no, because we listen to our doctors. In-person school gets a second strike.
The third thing to consider is whether or not he can adapt to virtual school. We have been fortunate enough for our son to attend a reading program virtually for the last couple months. He has made great strides and the instruction was 100% virtual. So our question was does he need in-person instruction to learn?
No again. Three strikes and you're out, in-person school.
I'm not sharing everything here, obviously. Other families have other challenges. My wife and I are both fortunate enough to work primarily from home. Not every family has that option. My job is flexible enough that I can schedule my work around my son's education and my wife's work schedule. Not everyone has that privilege. You need to make your own decision for your own child. Our hope is that by electing for virtual school we leave more spots open for kids who absolutely need in-person instruction.
Best of luck making this decision. Call me if you want to discuss it!