Special Programs During Covid-19
Students Eligible for Special Education
- Ellensburg School District (ESD) is committed to providing free and appropriate educational opportunities for students with disabilities to the greatest extent possible in alignment with public health guidelines. Additionally, collaboration with families continues to be essential during this time.
- To address the unique needs of students with disabilities, Individual Education Plans (IEP) team members will continue the work with families to collaboratively identify the most essential services needed. This will support progress monitoring on IEP goals as well as necessary IEP accommodations to be provided indirectly in remote and in-person learning environments for both programs.
- IEPs will be adjusted as needed for the circumstances of the learning environment. We recognize that each student will have an individual plan based on the learning model selected by the parent and IEP team. When this happens, we will be working diligently to set detailed plans for the delivery of special education services.
Child Find & Evaluation
- ESD will continue to identify, locate, and evaluate students suspected of having a disability and needing special education and related services. Early on in the school year, the team will develop a list of potential signs that a student might need additional support beyond what is being provided through Tiered Interventions or through the general education environment.
- At the same time, ESD will be mindful that students have been displaced from their typical learning environment when initiating the referral process. For example, the District will be mindful not to over-identify students who are learning remotely or those who are in-person more simply because they are in a different learning environment than is typical.
- Some evaluation procedures can be completed in remote learning situations. Some evaluations require in-person contact with students or observations of students in school settings. ESD will conduct evaluations remotely and in-person while adhering to public health guidelines for the safety of students and staff.
Individualized Education Program (IEP)
- ESD is committed to providing families an opportunity to have meaningful participation in the special education process. Consistent with recommendations from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, IEP, and other meetings between staff and visitors/families will be held remotely, to the greatest extent possible. However, if parents/guardians are unable to engage in a required meeting remotely, socially distanced in-person meetings may be held.
- Special Education will partner with families to determine the most practical format to conduct IEP meetings and arrange for an interpreter if necessary.
Delivery of Special Education & Related Services During COVID-19
- General education, special education, related services providers and families will discuss students’ individual needs and agree to a prioritized set of services that provide access to curriculum and enable progress toward IEP goals.
- In a hybrid setting, families and staff will discuss and agree to a set of prioritized services to be delivered in-person, when possible.
- Other services will continue remotely as specified in the Remote IEP Services Plan.
- For Related Services, the District will consider using virtual means (i.e. remote learning via Zoom/Schoology), if possible.
- The District will limit the number of therapists in the therapy room if onsite visits are needed or consider an alternative space for movement.
- Consistent with recommendations from the CDC, face coverings must be worn. Students who are not able to wear a face covering will be required to have a note from a physician for consideration by the school-based team.
- Materials (e.g., Lycra tunnel or other porous materials, sensory swing, carpet squares, foam items) must be cleaned and sanitized between uses with enough time to let the material properly dry. In-person instruction at home is allowed for medically homebound students.
Progress Monitoring & Reporting
- Special education teams will have in place consistent data collection and service log procedures for use across hybrid and remote learning environments. Collecting data and tracking the provision of services will assist educators and families in determining the effectiveness of instruction provided, student performance on IEP goals/objectives, and assist IEP teams in making any necessary adjustments to instruction.
- Periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals will continue to be provided.
- If students are not present, and therefore, data cannot be collected for progress monitoring on goals, the student’s case manager will work with the building assistant principal and/or student services leadership team to determine appropriate steps.
Accommodations & Modifications
- Accommodations and modifications can be provided regardless of the educational setting.
- General and special education teachers will continue to collaborate in determining the appropriateness and success of a student’s unique accommodations and modifications documented.
- The IEP team, (general education teachers, special education, related services providers, and families), will work collaboratively to identify alternative solutions if it believes an accommodation or modification is not appropriate or successful in a particular setting.
Confidentiality & Student Privacy
- Special education and related service providers will use digital platforms approved by the district for secure access.
- Families may provide consent to participate in teletherapy sessions with providers when remote services are required.
- Families or other household members may observe or otherwise participate in distance learning opportunities. As with an in-person observation in a classroom, educators may set ground rules regarding non-students’ presence during virtual instruction.
Instructional (Self-Contained) Classrooms Housing Students Who Are Medically Fragile or May Have Behavioral, Developmental, or Emotional Challenges
- The risk of infectious disease exposure may be much higher for staff providing care for medically fragile students.
- The District will provide appropriate PPE for continuous wear and during procedures (e.g.face shields during aerosolizing procedures).
- Maintaining strict social distancing will not likely be feasible due to the personal nature of common care and services, including feeding, toileting, suctioning, position changes, diaper changing, hand-over hand assistance, physical therapy, occupational therapy.
- Appropriate PPE will be used in conjunction with appropriate hand hygiene and standard precautions .
- The District will consider locations where specialized procedures (such as suctioning and tube feedings) currently occur, which may be in the classroom. The District will evaluate if this is safe to continue or should be moved to a clean area of the health office.
- The District will plan for acute respiratory treatment care using up-to-date standards of care. Nebulizer treatments and suctioning are identified by the CDC as aerosol-generating procedures and will require an N95 mask fitted to the health care worker. See CDC Guidance for Aerosol Generating Procedures.
- Students who need sensory breaks and social-emotional breaks will have schedules and/or procedures put in place following social distancing regulations.
- Sensory rooms will be properly cleaned and sanitized in between uses and students will not share items.
Virtual Academy Special Education Services
- All students receiving specially designed instruction must have an IEP meeting before entering the Virtual Academy Program. Discussion points will include appropriations of the program for the student and how SDI will be rendered.
- Attendance at all SDI classes is mandatory and often in addition to require attendance in general education live on-line classes. Due to the uniqueness of our virtual format, comparable special education services may not exactly replicate the services called for in the brick and mortar IEP, but will approximate as closely as possible, the services and placement required. The need for an IEP amendment will be determined at the meeting.
- If your student is not currently identified as needing special education, a referral process is available. If you and/or your teacher suspect that your student’s difficulty with learning are a result of a disability, a formal referral will be made in writing for a possible evaluation for special education services.
- Part of the referral process will include collection of information including assignments response to Tier I and Tier II interventions as well as a review of progress and attendance to class meetings.
- The referral does not mean that a student will automatically qualify for special education services. Additionally, there are state required processes and timelines that must be followers before a determination can be made.
- All students receiving SPED Services in the Virtual Academy will take the MAP Assessment on two occasions during the school year.
Grading System & Progress Reports
- Students will receive grades four times per year. Progress reports will be sent to parents at the same time.
- An IEP meeting will be called when data indicates that a student is not making progress on IEP goals.