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Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, DESE FAQ Special Education Qs 15-19

9/10/2020 (Permalink)

The way in which our children learn and our educators teach to begin this school year will be will challenging for both to say the least. Regardless of the reopening model chosen by your school district, all schools will be providing remote learning to some extent. Parents whose children require special education in the COVID-19 environment may be struggling with how these necessary changes may impact the ability of school districts to meet their children's needs.  The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has put together a FAQ to help parents navigate these uncharted waters. 

Please note supplemental information can be found on the Department's website at DESE COVID-19 Information and Resources.

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic is continually evolving. What is true today may not be tomorrow. At this time, the evidence suggests schools have not played a significant role in COVID-19 transmission and that children, particularly younger children, are less likely than adults to be infected with COVID-19.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEAMass DESE, and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

The Massachusetts DESE recommends that districts and schools select high quality, and subject areas.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Special Education Related Services, and Models of Learning

Monitoring Student Progress

15) How can student progress be monitored during hybrid or remote learning?

Educators, service providers, parents/guardians, and students should review a student’s IEP to review the goals and objectives and identify the types of data that can be collected from the student, the family, and the home environment and develop a plan to collect ongoing data. Using the basic tenets of progress monitoring, school staff can reimagine their roles in a remote context, e.g., by using a tracking sheet to collect data from student videos, by interviewing parents/guardians and students, or by using assessments.

There are many resources to aid in this work, for example:

  1. The Texas Education Agency Phase 4 Remote Learning Plan Monitoring
  2. Student Progress Monitoring Tool for Data Collection and Graphing
  3. Measuring and Reporting Progress Toward Mastery of Annual Goals
  4. Data Collection During Distance Learning

Using Google Drive to Collect Data for IEP Goals

If parents/guardians are asked to assist with progress monitoring, please consider that some parents/guardians are limited English proficient and may need translations or interpretations to be able to effectively learn how to collect and communicate monitoring data to their school or district liaison.

16) How does the cancellation of the Spring 2020 administration of the MCAS impact competency determination requirements for students with IEPs who are anticipated to remain in secondary school until their 22nd birthday?

For general guidance on graduation for students with IEPs, please see the Department’s 2018 advisory, Secondary Transition Services and Graduation with a High School Diploma. Grade 12 students who were enrolled or received a certificate of attainment in March or End-of-Year SIMS and grade SP students who earned a certificate of attainment in End-of-Year SIMS are eligible to be considered for the modified competency determination (CD) if they have not yet passed one or more of the high school MCAS tests. Districts must certify the successful completion of at least one qualifying course via the ‘Competency Determination’ application in the DESE Security Portal, per instructions that have been shared with school or district administrators. The Security Portal application will be available through Friday, August 21, 2020. For further information, schools and districts should contact data@doe.mass.edu or visit DESE’s related guidance.

Schools and districts should also keep in mind that the MCAS appeals process is still available.

17) How does the cancellation of the Spring 2020 administration of the MCAS impact competency requirements for students with IEPs who do not meet the criteria referenced in the previous question?

For general guidance on graduation for students with IEPs, please see the Department’s 2018 advisory, Secondary Transition Services and Graduation with a High School Diploma. Schools and districts should also keep in mind that the MCAS appeals process is still available.

IEP Meetings, Timelines, and Other Procedural Requirements

18) Do schools need to make changes to the student’s IEP in order to provide services during a hybrid or remote model during the 2020-2021 school year?

No. It is not necessary to convene an IEP Team before providing learning opportunities and services to students with IEPs if a school or district is using a hybrid or remote model at the beginning of the school year. Additionally, it is not necessary to amend the IEP for the purpose of delivering hybrid or remote services. Please download the Special Education, Related Services, and Models of Learning for the Department’s recommendation for written documentation of modified in-person, hybrid, or remote instruction.

19) What should schools and districts do if a family does not respond to outreach or refuses services?

Schools and districts should make repeated and varied attempts to reach out and engage families. In these cases, schools and districts should document all attempts to engage with families. All communication should be in the primary language of the home, using interpreters and translating documents, when appropriate.

If a parent/guardian does not accept services for their son/daughter, the school or district should ask that the parent/guardian document this refusal in writing. If the parent/guardian does not submit anything in writing, the school or district should also document a summary of the conversation or issue a letter summarizing the conversation to ensure clear communication

NOTE: According to Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education areas of the school visited by the COVID-19 positive individual must be closed off and/or cleaned and disinfected. The area can be used 12 hours after cleaning/disinfecting has occurred.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEAMass EECMass DESE, and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Newton/Wellesley know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Newton/Wellesley are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Newton/Wellesley today for a free consultation - (617) 332-9000.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Newton/Wellesley want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

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