SPrEaD the word

Volume 1 Issue 8 (03.18.2020)

Follow-up from Friday's "SPrEad the word"

Russell Johnston, Senior Associate Commissioner and State Director of Special Education, held another conference call for all special education administrators on Tuesday, March 17th. He reiterated much of his message from Friday. He continues to stress the importance that districts are not providing new learning, but resources to support maintaining continuity.

Russell provided clarification of the use of the term compensatory services. This term is used when districts fail to provide services to students. In this situation, districts are not "failing" to provide, we cannot provide them. Therefore, he encouraged districts to use the term additional services. Further, not all students will require additional services. This will be something Teams will need to discuss upon our return. As I understand it, there will be more guidance coming around this topic.

His office also shared out: CORONAVIRUS/COVID-19 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS FOR SCHOOLS AND DISTRICTS REGARDING SPECIAL EDUCATION. Russell also indicated that there is room for districts to develop their own process and procedures to ensure that we are supporting our students with disabilities. I will be sharing some of what Millbury will be doing. However, please know this could change based on the DESE's guidance.

IEP meetings

  1. At this time, we will not be holding initial or re-evaluation IEP meetings virtually. I am aware that this will create a burden when we return. (See #2)
  2. However, for Annual Meetings, the Team Chairs and I will be reaching out to families to determine how many of them would be willing to participate via Zoom to hold the annual meeting. More information to follow.
  3. In the absence of an annual review, the current IEP is considered "stay put" until an IEP is proposed and accepted by the parent/guardian.

IEP timelines

  1. These are determined at the federal level. More information will be coming
  2. Per the current federal guidelines, I will adjust the compliance calendar accordingly. So yes, we will have multiple meetings to reschedule. I may adjust some of our current practices so that staff, specifically related service providers, are not having to compromise service time for meetings.


  1. Connect with families and students
  2. Share out activities and tasks that promote maintenance, not new learning.
  3. Meet with general education teachers and related service providers.
  4. Finalize reports, progress reports, and observations.
  5. Update DRAFT IEPs (Team Chairs will open them and let you know they are ready for edits).

Connecting with Students

Please continue to check in on your students and their families.

If some of your families do not have email and you are comfortable using your personal phone line, I encourage you to do so. But please know it is not expected. If you do not want to share out your phone number, but want to connect with your families, I encourage you to set up your own Class DoJo or Remind class. Please let me know if you need assistance communicating this out. I am happy to use ConnectEd to reach families. I can share out Remind Codes or Class DoJo via Connect Ed's text messaging feature.

In the event, you are concerned about a family or if you haven't heard from them at all or for a period of time, please reach out to your building administration or me.

Assignments for Students

As you work to put together assignments/videos, I encourage you to consider the goals and objectives of the students' IEP. Consider framing the whole activity and consider ways to differentiate it for all learners. Is there a way for you to record a video that is only sent out to the students you would be supporting in a small group?

Please do not be afraid to challenge your students. Don’t be afraid that they won’t have help at home. Activities we are sharing are not intended to replace teaching but should be working to maintain continuity and exposure.

I also encourage you to connect regularly (at least twice per week) with your general education teachers and/or related service providers to see what they are sharing and doing. How can you work to modify and/or monitor students’ progress to offer assistance?


Many of you are sharing out some great resources. I wanted to share some others that you can use on a more individualized basis. Please know that since Friday, special education administrators across the Commonwealth were reviewing and screening resources because we did not want to send you items that would not be helpful or require access via a registration fee. (My email box is filling with companies willing to help for a fee. Sorry! No thank you!)

Rethink: This resource has ELA and math resources. The worksheets can be downloaded as PDF and shared electronically with families or used as recorded lessons (if that is something you are doing with students). Rethink also has PD opportunities (ABA training and SEL modules). If you are interested and cannot remember if you have a Rethink account, please email Rose Mahoney (rmahoney@millburyschools.org).

The Inclusive Class includes resources to support you in making activities accessible to our students with disabilities.

Breezy Special Ed includes distance learning packets and resources.

Other things to work on

I know I have some tasks that I have been meaning to get to or that have started my summer projects list. Some things that are on my list, that may also be on yours:
  • Complete any outstanding SafeSchools training modules
  • Review and summarize data collection sheets (Is there a smarter way to collect data?)
  • Create/Update a Google Classroom, website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Remind, Class DoJo

New Parent Survey Responses

Families continue to return their IEP Process Parent Survey. Click here to see what they are saying!

Future Topics:

  • Development of the IEP
  • Parent Response to an IEP
  • MPS Policy and Procedures Regarding In School Observation by Parents and their Designee