Pupil Services Post

from Kate Ryan, the Director of Pupil Services

July 29, 2020

Good afternoon families,


As the District Leadership Team continues to work through finalizing the Millbury Public Schools Reopening 2020 Plan, I thought I would take this opportunity to address frequently asked questions about special education and English Learner programming. Additionally, I am resharing information about wearing masks/face-coverings, social-emotional supports, and how to find additional assistance (food, housing, etc.).


Thank you in advance for taking the time to read through these updates.


Stay healthy,

Kate Ryan

SPECIAL EDUCATION and SECTION 504 UPDATES

Special Education Services

Students with disabilities have been greatly impacted by the school closure caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Though all students on IEPs and 504 plans were offered Individualized Remote Learning Plans, there were students for whom remote learning was neither an effective nor an efficient method of providing specialized academic and support services. The Massachusetts (MA) Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) “Guidance on Fall 2020 Special Education Services” states:


“These students should receive as much in-person instruction as is feasible within the

health and safety parameters in effect at each particular time.”


As we move toward resuming normal operations, we will need to make sure that all students with disabilities are:

  1. Working with their teachers and service providers to the greatest extent possible, and

  2. Assessed to determine progress and current levels of performance in the event that additional services are needed while also maintaining current health and safety protocols.


Students will receive all services documented in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) 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.


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 will complex and significant needs include:

  • Students already identified as “high needs” through the IEP process on the IEP form entitled “Primary Disability/Level of Need-PL3.” 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 dually identified as English Learners.”


A detailed plan for delivering special education instruction and services remotely 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.


More specific information will be included in the MPS Reopening Plan. This plan will be reviewed with the School Committee on Wednesday, August 5th at 7 PM at the Millbury Jr./Sr. High School.

IEP and 504 Meetings

As of this writing, Special Education and Section 504 Plan meetings will be held virtually.

If a meeting must occur in person, clearly delineated protocols for screening, physical distancing, hand washing/hand sanitizer use, and use of masks/face coverings will be fully enforced. Regardless of whether meetings are held in person or remotely, interpreters will still be provided as needed to ensure multilingual families are able to participate in their native language. In-person meetings may be held under special circumstances and will depend on the size and configuration of available space. Any meetings conducted in-person can only occur provided protocols for screening, physical distancing, hand washing/hand sanitizer use, and use of masks/face coverings guidelines are followed.


Please know that we will continue to collaborate with you to provide the best possible access to your child's special education instruction and services.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS

Engaging our multilingual students during distance learning is of the utmost priority. All teachers are responsible for furthering the language acquisition and achievement in the content areas of their students. Just as English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers bring their expertise in language development, general education teachers provide English learners with opportunities to practice and refine their developing language skills. Collaboration is encouraged at all levels among ESL and general education content teachers with sharing of resources to facilitate student interaction and academic achievement. Integrating language and content in lesson planning during remote learning is essential to students’ success. Teachers should utilize all available resources to promote student interaction and support students in making content accessible and comprehensible to them.


Communicating to multilingual families in a language they understand is a key to this success. Supporting our families with technology needs leads to meaningful interaction among teachers, families and students. Educators may reach out to their building principals to arrange for translator/interpreter services to support this work.


While instructing in different models, English as a Second Language (ESL) educators will continue to implement research-based best practices. Language learning occurs through authentic, meaningful student-to-student interactions. Students at English proficiency levels 1 and 2 will be prioritized for in person learning. Our students will maintain their connection to their teachers, their classmates, and work towards meeting content and language learning targets. The federal and state legal mandates for English language instruction continue to be in place.


MASKS & FACE-COVERINGS

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.


HEARING IMPAIRED INFORMATION

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.

Social/Emotional Supports

The Millbury Public Schools is committed to supporting students, staff, and families social and emotional needs during the reopening of schools. We know that this time away from our buildings as well as the return has caused our students, staff, and families increased anxiety. We also know that there will be lasting effects for students due to the period of social isolation and lack of engagement with teachers and peers that they faced in the Spring. The following supports are just some of the practices we will be implementing as a part of our reopening plan.


  1. The district Guidance and Counseling departments will develop and distribute a Needs Assessment to students within MPS in the fall to more accurately define social/emotional supports needed.

  2. Based on responses from the Needs Assessment, the Guidance and School Counseling departments will create a Tiered System of support for COVID-19 that supports students, staff and families. There will be general support and interventions available to all students, staff and families with additional tiered support as necessary.

  3. We will prioritize and utilize our already existing Social Emotional Learning supports particularly during the initial phase of school reopening and create and update a central COVID-19 Resource Document both for staff and the MPS community that will be shared online.

  4. We will provide training for staff on trauma-informed practices so that they can best meet the needs of their students and families.

  5. We will explore additional mental health support for staff during this difficult time as an educator through our EAP resource.

  6. We will engage in a continuous reassessment of community needs and supports during this unprecedented time.

Parent/Family Resources

The following list has been compiled by Millbury Jr./Sr. High School's School Adjustment/Guidance Counselor, Mrs. Heidi Desautels.


Local Resources:

  • Millbury is fortunate enough to have the opportunity to partner with Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services to provide a variety of external supports to struggling students and families at NO cost to them- https://syfs-ma.org/



Supporting Emotional Wellbeing During a Pandemic:



Self-Care/Stress Management Resources:



Mindfulness Resources:

  • Wuf Shanti Children’s Wellness Foundation teaches mindfulness and social-emotional learning, encouraging children to live in health and wellness. Through videos, books, a mobile app, music, fun, and games, children learn mindfulness, SEL, emotional intelligence, yoga, meditation, communication, inclusion, self-awareness, self-regulation, self-compassion, empathy, collaboration, positive thinking, and more. This helps them stay physically fit, mentally less stressed, able to cope with emotions and interact with kindness- https://wufshanti.com/



Teaching Children about Race and Diversity:



Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources:

Contact the Director

Kate Ryan, Director

Mary O'Brien, Administrative Assistant to the Director