Special Education Updates

from Kate Ryan, the Director of Pupil Services

August 21, 2020

Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s),

On behalf of the district, I apologize for the lack of information. Unfortunately, the timeline we are following is so compressed that we haven't given families the information and time they need to make an informed decision. We are still negotiating the final details of our plan and hope to release them to families next week.

You are receiving this email because your child is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a Section 504 Accommodation Plan. Per the MA DESE’s Guidance on Fall 2020 Special Education Services, “even if the rest of the school has entered into a hybrid or remote model of instruction, schools and districts must make every effort to maintain in-person instruction for students with disabilities, particularly those with complex and significant needs and preschool-aged children.” This guidance further states “students with complex and significant needs include:

Such students must meet at least two of these criteria:

  • Services provided outside of the general education classroom;

  • Service providers are special education teachers and related service providers;

  • Special education services constitute more than 75% of the student’s school day;

  • Students who cannot engage in remote learning due to their disability-related needs;

  • Students who primarily use aided and augmentative communication;

  • Students who are homeless;

  • Students in foster care or congregate care; and/or

  • Students who have been dually identified as English Learners.

Using the above guidelines, Special Education personnel have worked to further analyze service delivery grids for each student. These categories indicate the amount of in-person learning time that would be required for students to receive the maximum in-person services, recognizing that health and safety guidelines may not allow for all students to receive the maximum. The District used this analysis of students’ IEPs in conjunction with the DESE criteria for prioritizing in-person learning to create Cohort C. Cohort C families will be notified early next week by the appropriate Team Chair.

  • Elmwood St. School (preschool- Grade 3): Mrs. Kristie Barry-Ayres

  • Shaw School (grades 4-6): Mrs. Stephani Bazinet

  • MJSHS (grades 7-12): Mrs. Christine Warren

Students will receive all services documented in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Section 504 Accommodation Plans through in-person instruction, remote instruction, or a combination of both, with a strong emphasis on providing in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible, while abiding by the current necessary health and safety requirements. Any necessary adjustments to the delivery of services due to the health and safety guidelines will be communicated to and discussed with the parents and guardians.

A detailed plan for delivering special education instruction and services remotely and for hybrid instruction will be developed for each student, based on their services, as outlined in their Individual Education Program (IEP). Planning will focus on delivering services through an “Instruction and Services” mode of delivery. Per MA DESE guidance, the “Resources and Supports” delivery model can only be used on a temporary basis for a limited period of time (no more than two weeks), until which time the District has overcome the hurdles preventing service delivery through an “Instruction and Services” delivery model.

Please note: the due date for parent survey responses was extended to August 28 to allow more time for families to decide. If families require additional information or time and are unable to decide by the 28th, we will provide more time. Once the plans are released, you will be hearing from the Team Chair or your child's liaison to further discuss programming specific to your child.



Alternatives to Face Masks

As of May 6, Governor Baker declared that face masks are required in all public places in

Massachusetts. Do you have a student, child, or family member that has difficulty wearing a face mask due to behavioral, anxiety, medical or sensory challenges? Our Occupational Therapist, Mrs. Laura Newhall, has compiled a list of alternatives, including some DIY options, for you to try.

Do you need assistance quickly? Get the answers you need. It's FREE, confidential, and multilingual.

Dial 2-1-1. Or search online MASS 211.

Youth Services, Elder Care, Fitness, Food, Escape Violence, Housing, Income Assistance, Legal Aid, LGBTQ, Medical Care, and Insurance, Mental Health, Nutrition, Parenting, Safety Equipment, Sexual and Health Testing, Special Health Care Needs, Transportation, Utilities, Work.


Callers can use Mass Relay (7-1-1). 7-1-1 is the single, toll-free, nationwide number that gives everyone access to relay services. People can simply dial 7-1-1 from any phone to reach someone who uses a standard phone or a TTY. An operator will relay verbatim the conversation between the parties.

You can also chat with us online at mass211.org

Call 2-1-1 or 1-877-211-6277

Runaway Assistance (Police Officers) ext 11

Childcare ext 23

Call2Talk (Mental Health Line) ext 25

Child Requiring Assistance ext 24

Disaster ext 20

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program

The Department of Public Health is sharing the following information on access to WIC services and food for our families with young children.

The MA Department of Public Health's Women, Infants, & Children (WIC) Nutrition P​rogram is informing our health and community partners that WIC services are available by phone. ALL WIC Programs are able to provide all services by phone to align with social distancing efforts. Our website​ will be kept up-to-date as well. Contact local WIC programs with any questions about breastfeeding, nutrition or shopping. Even if local program offices are not open, they are responding to phone calls and providing services from remote locations. WIC is committed to providing families with continued support now and in the days ahead.

WIC welcomes families at any time. Check out WIC's eligibility page to see how to families can apply online for WIC services. Parents, grandparents and foster parents may apply for children under the age of five years who are in their care.

Call WIC at 1-800-942-1007 or 617-721-6601weekdays Monday through Friday 9am – 5pm. If you hear a recording, please leave a message with your name and telephone number, and staff will respond the same business day or email the Worcester WIC Program (Oanh.Nguyen@FHCW.org) directly with any questions.

Contact the Director

Kate Ryan, Director

Mary O'Brien, Administrative Assistant to the Director