Special Services Update 4/28/20

Dear Parents of Students with Special Needs:

Governor DeWine announced on April 20th that remote learning will continue through end-of-the-year.  His rationale is that the virus remains a fluid and dangerous situation due to the risk of community spread. There is no decision regarding the start of school in the Fall because he is not in a position to make that decision at this time.  We have been informed that when we do return, we must prepare for physical distancing, and the Governor references a blended system between eLearning and in-person instruction. 

We are all disappointed that this disruption in our normal delivery of education will continue. We are working hard to plan for distance learning for our special education students now through the end of this school year. We are also planning for various start-up scenarios afterwards. Our teachers miss their students, and I can assure you that their dedication to your children has not diminished in the face of this crisis.

Although we have not received specific guidance regarding Extended School Year Services or any Summer Programs specifically, we expect that only remote learning will continue through the summer as well.

The United States Department of Education (USDOE) states that during school closures, if the school continues to serve students, the school must ensure that students with special needs under IDEA and 504 continue to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), consistent with protecting the health and safety of the student and those providing that education to the student. 

If feasible, the student’s IEP Team, or the personnel responsible for ensuring FAPE to a student for the purposes of Section 504, can be utilized to assist with the effort to determine if some, or all, of the identified services can be provided through alternate or additional methods. Accessible technology may afford students, including students with disabilities, an opportunity to have access to high-quality educational instruction during an extended school closure, especially when continuing education must be provided through distance learning. Consistent with guidance released by the USDOE, if a school or district is shifting instruction to an alternative mode for all students due to school-building closure, it is not required to convene the IEP team or amend the IEP for the sole purpose of the school-building closure.  

During a school closing, FAPE can follow a continuum of choices.  Some schools will completely close and offer no services. If a school district closes its schools and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then a school would not be required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time. Once school resumes, the school must return to providing special education and related services to students with disabilities in accordance with the student’s IEP or, for students entitled to FAPE under Section 504, consistent with any plan developed to meet the requirements of Section 504.   

Some schools will only offer homework packets.  

Most schools, like Bay Village, will provide Continuous Learning Opportunities and Distance Learning to students. 

When planning for this “Phase 2” of Distant Learning, we consider the following regarding FAPE:

  • What is appropriate in light of the current circumstances?
  • Are we making good faith efforts to provide appropriate services?
  • Are we making good faith efforts to engage families in determining FAPE?
  • Are we making good faith efforts to tailor instruction to students’ needs?
  • What is the level of student support needed from parents, and what level of consultation is needed to support parents?

For Phase 2, our special education providers will work with families to develop a temporary plan for working with students during this pandemic. We will work collaboratively with parents to identify specific goals and services through a distant learning plan during this time of closure. There will be some temporary discontinuation of services. Our teachers will continue to attempt to engage with all their students and document how students are responding and progressing. Progress on the essential IEP goals and services will be documented and reported.

The USDOE understands that there may be circumstances that could affect how a particular service is provided. If a student does not receive services after an extended period of time, the student’s IEP Team, or appropriate personnel under Section 504, must make an individualized determination whether and to what extent compensatory services are needed consistent with the respective applicable requirements, including to make up for any skills that may have been lost. Additionally, IEP Teams are not required to meet in person while schools are closed.

We understand the challenges this closing has created. We also embrace the work and our continued partnership with parents. Please contact your child’s special education provider if you have concerns or questions. You may also contact me directly by email at Martha.patton@bayschoolsohio.org or by phone at 440-554-1677.

Be well and stay safe.

Marty Patton

Asst Superintendent of Special Services

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