SPrEaD the word
Vol. 1 Iss. 13 (05.07.2020) COVID-19 Week 7
May 1st DESE Updates
From the start of this closure through the end of August, it is anticipated that there are 5,000 children who will age out of EI. Of this, 2,000 children will be found eligible for special education services. DESE has advised districts to collaborate with EI so that there is not a break in services. This can be done by continuing to implement the IFSP services and/or developing a partial IEP until such time that an evaluation is able to take place.
To continue to support our youngest Woolies, the following steps will be implemented:
- District staff will continue to consult with EI. Additionally, District staff will participate in Transition Planning meetings.
- Review and consider evaluation information from EI to determine eligibility.
- If the referral paperwork seems to indicate the child would be eligible, then the preschool Team will work with the families and EI providers to develop an IEP and develop an IRLP addressing the services and goals as noted in the IFSP.
- If eligibility is unclear, we will need an evaluation to determine eligibility. In this case, the preschool Team will continue to implement the services and goals as noted in the IFSP (this will be captured in an IRLP), an evaluation will be proposed for when we return, and this will be captured in an N1.
- Determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
There are three levels of legal requirements for timelines:
- Federal requirements in IDEA
- State requirements in Mass General Laws (MGL)
- DESE regulations (603 CMR 28.00) and policy
In Secretary Devos' report to Congress, she did not seek waivers to the core tents of IDEA. All three levels are connected and without flexibility at the federal level, there is no flexibility at the state level.
So what does this mean? There are no extensions to the timelines. We are to continue to treat timelines as if they are in effect and make efforts to meet them. Sadly, these are school working days. (*Please know that directors are seeking clarification from DESE as to when to begin counting as school working days. We were initially told they are not school working days.)
So now what? I will be working with the Team Chairs. We will be:
- taking a student-centered approach. We cannot put out a blanket statement to extend timelines
- communicating clearly with parents to reach an agreement on timeline extensions
- documenting efforts to reach agreement
Suggestions from DESE:
- Attempt to agree with parents on extending any deadlines
- Re-evaluations may be conducted through the review of existing evaluation data unless additional evaluations are needed
- Re-evaluations may be pushed out another year
- Conduct some assessments remotely. If some cannot be conducted remotely, plan to complete them when school reopens.
DESE has developed draft guidance on efforts to meet timelines. This is to be published as soon as the stakeholder group reviews (Possibly next week).
Extended School Year (ESY):
The recommendation is to engage in contingency planning. Plan for the continuation of remote learning for ESY, while developing readiness for in-person instruction, if it becomes possible.
There should be a decision coming from the Governor on summer services, camps, etc.
Active (and stay put) IEP goals are in place. Special Educators and related service providers are to be providing work/activities that support a focus on the students' goals. We are still working to advance the goals.
Collecting Data Remotely:
Identify priority goals/objectives. Please consider the student's current environment (what is available to them?) We may need to rethink our data sources. What can we use now? While DESE encourages that we collaborate with our families to finds methods they can commit to (yes, asking the family to collect the data), I am well aware that asking our families to collect data will be a tipping point and it may also not be valid.
Ways to track student progress:
- parent report
- student report
- audio recordings
- work products
- observations during synchronous sessions
Use the IAs to assist with this. (They will need direction on what specifically they are looking for.)
DESE did provide tracking resources (see page 24 of the PowerPoint). One of my favorites can be found here. Many of these resources could be great tools for when we return.
Special Education Resource Guide:
DESE updated this resource to assist families with the Secondary Transition 9slide 33-43). Districts are encouraged to continue to engage in conversations with families and help the family identify areas of independent living that are important and how they can be worked on at home.
Individualized Remote Learning Plans
Case managers and liaisons: please be sure you are uploading the IRLP as a PDF to Aspen. This serves two purposes:
- it is housed in the student's electronic special education file. A Google doc cannot be uploaded to Aspen.
- clerks need to send it in a format that does not provide opportunities for families to make edits.
Google Slides Step by Step How to Upload/Download Files to Aspen
Screencastify: Saving the IRLP as a PDF and Uploading to Aspen
How to complete the IRLPs:
Clarification on Consultation Services
Consultation services (A grid) are the easiest of the three grid areas to deliver. Additionally, this is a great way to support families and keep families informed. However, consultations with families should not become informal Team meetings and present situations for changes to the IEP.
Consultation time is (different based on who is participating):
- If it is solely school-based Team members, use this time to: connect to discuss the student's programming, share student/family information that may impact remote learning, talk about attendance and any barriers to accessing the remote learning opportunities, and any necessary adjustments to the IRLP to best support the family and student
- If it is a home/school consultation: Discuss what is working, what is not? What resources are available in the home that can be used to support remote learning? Adjusting the daily/weekly schedule to best meet the student's needs while working within the family's parameters. This isn't a platform to discuss the IEP, including services for the next school year, etc. It is about supporting the student and family with their present ability to access the Remote Learning Plan.
Did I mention DOCUMENTATION?
- document all your efforts!
- be sure you are updating your Service Delivery Log daily.
- If it isn't documented, it didn't happen!
**IEPs should be written as if school is in session. The N1 is to include information pertaining to the remote learning opportunities made available to and engaged in by the student.
IEPs should be completed within the timeframes we normally adhere to.