We hope you and your family are well during these stressful times. Now that the extended spring break is over for all public schools, we are facing a new reality. Please feel free to reach out with any questions you may have regarding your child’s special education services, if we have not covered your concerns below.
What will happen to my child’s services when a school is closed but educational services continue to be provided through the district?
In accordance with the ODE and the USDOE, if a local school is providing the general-educational curriculum to its students the district also must ensure educational access to its students with disabilities. Adhering to the guidelines mandating Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) compliance is still expected. Districts should be communicating with parents and guardians regarding their child’s IEP services.
What options are available to provide remote learning—especially if internet or computer devices are not available?
Internet-accessible devices are clearly the best option for distance learning, allowing easy transfer of coursework and even face-to-face remote meetings via various platforms. However, not all students will have access to such devices and there may be no viable option for online instruction. This doesn’t excuse the district’s obligation to educate. Possibilities for alternate instruction will vary depending on age, location and other circumstances. At the very least, identifying local resources, encouraging reading and writing practices during the quarantine, and other enrichment activities can be provided to students. Schools may establish “pick-up and drop-off” points as may be appropriate for access to instructional materials. These protocols will be established by the individual districts and take into account adherence to appropriate social distancing and safety concerns.
What can be done for ETR considerations, such as evaluations?
If an evaluation requires an in-person assessment or observation, the evaluation will need to be delayed until the current school closure ends. Other evaluations and re-evaluations might still happen with parental or guardian consent. These same principles are applicable for plans developed under Section 504.
A district may still opt to update current evaluations by conducting a records review in lieu of in-person assessments or observations. As always, an evaluation team report review and signature collection should be documented with Prior Written Notice (PR01) procedures.
What can be done for IEP Annual Reviews?
IEP annual reviews can still be conducted either through virtual format or telephone conferences. Participation and required signatures will be documented by standard mail, email attachments of scanned documents, photographs of the signatures or other compliant electronic means. The method of IEP team review and signature gathering will continue to be documented in PR01 form.
What about compensatory services or ESY?
This will be determined on an individual basis when schools reopen.
In the meantime, on a daily or otherwise consistent basis, try to document what is happening and which services your child is missing per the IEP. It would also be appropriate to indicate to your school the ongoing documentation, the lack of services and any regression by your child. Remember to convey your expectation of remediation or comp-ed when school resumes regular sessions.
You can also consider paying for an online service (ABA, OT, Speech) and work out an arrangement for possible reimbursement from your school. Requesting such an accommodation, in line with the compensatory services listed, may serve to lay the groundwork for continued services and less regression during this uncertain time.
While this current situation is not ideal, please remember that it is only temporary. We all are doing our best and need to focus on our primary priority, which continues to be the safety, health and welfare of our family members. No matter what else is happening: Learning never stops.
As your advocates, we know it’s possible to work with your child’s school and teachers to ensure your child’s educational needs are still being met. Teachers are scheduling IEP meetings, communicating with students and parents and stepping up in ways we never imagined. If you feel there isn’t enough communication or an IEP meeting needs to be scheduled, all we need to do is request it!
If you have any other concerns regarding your child’s services, feel free to reach out to our team.
Thank you for letting us help you help your children.
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