Special Education Update

September 12, 2020

Dear Families:

Our School and Pandemic Response Advisory Committees, Superintendent Beck, district administrators, and our teachers' association have been hard at work trying to address all health, safety, and capacity issues that are critical to reopening schools for in-person learning, particularly for priority populations of students and those with significant and complex special education needs. Within these meetings and planning sessions our focus has centered on ensuring we can both meet the needs of our students and keep our educators and students safe.

On Friday, we moved forward on a plan for student services educators to begin to provide assessment and evaluation services. Our school committee and stakeholder groups are hopeful we can meet all necessary conditions in the near future, to allow students to access in-person services within our schools in a safe environment, for those who have specified this preference. Until in-person learning can begin our teams will be providing a robust and wide range of supports remotely to meet individual students’ needs.

We have received information about student needs from our school based surveys, priority population survey as well as phone calls and communications with caregivers. You should expect to be contacted by someone from your child’s team or school, and ultimately, we will share a “COVID-19 Special Education Learning Plan” with you, which will document any changes that may occur with services during this remote learning phase. The state has provided very clear guidance which will be included in this document shared with you after engaging in consultation. A change in the delivery of special education services due to a school’s change in learning model as a result of COVID-19 does not result in a change to your child’s IEP. Special education laws provide protection to you and your child. You will find specific information about your legal rights within the Notice of Procedural Safeguards, which the district provides to parents at least once annually. This document includes sources that you may contact for assistance in understanding your rights. We will be providing hard copies of the “COVID-19 Special Education Learning Plan” as well as the Notice of Procedural Safeguards with caregivers.

We understand that this has been an exceedingly challenging time. Reopening schools, meeting state and public health guidelines, and otherwise managing the wide impacts of this pandemic has presented some of the most difficult challenges many of us have faced in our lifetimes. Please know our goal is to provide you with specific plans for your child as soon as possible. We are grateful for the collaboration you have shown as we gather information about your student’s needs. We have missed our students and our school teachers and staff are excited to be working with your children again!

I am grateful for the kindness and compassion we share with each other as a community. In our working together we will get through this time.

Warm regards,
Dianne Ellis
Pupil Services Director