Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, DESE FAQ Special Education Qs 26-30
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:
- Follow healthy hygiene practices
- Stay at home when sick
- Practice social distancing
- 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 CDC, EPA, FDA, Mass EEA, Mass 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
Out-of-District Placements and Approved Special Education Schools and Programs
26) How can residential programs for students with IEPs maintain health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreak?
The health and safety of the students and employees in residential schools is of utmost concern during the COVID-19 pandemic.The Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) issued guidance, most recently updated on April 14, 2020, addressing the specific procedures and protocols for residential, congregate care, and shelter providers. This guidance includes background on COVID-19, protective measures, ways to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19, cases and suspected cases in residents or employees, and information on testing, reporting COVID-19 cases, providing care to residents, personal protective equipment, deep cleaning, and monitoring the emotional health of employees. EOHHS will update this guidance as needed.
State and Federal Monitoring and Assistance
27) Will data submission timelines be enforced for Tiered Focused Monitoring activities and State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report indicators?
Tiered Focused Monitoring
Due date for submission of the Public School Tiered Focused Monitoring self-assessments and Indicator data has been extended to October 30, 2020:
- Special education self-assessment?
- Civil rights self-assessment?
- English learner education self-assessment?
- Indicator data submission for Indicators 11, 12 & 13?
Contact Tim Gallagher at
Phone: 781-338-3717 Email: Timothy.Gallagher2@mass.gov
with questions related to the special education self-assessment, civil rights self-assessment and Indicator data submission.
Contact Sibel Hughes at
Phone: 781-338-3569 Email: Sibel.Hughes@mass.gov
with questions related to the English learner education self-assessment.
See section on Early Childhood Special Education Services section for more information.
Deadlines for Indicator 14 data submission have changed this year. The submission date is November 16, 2020. Schools and districts in Cohort 2 will use an online survey to learn about the further education and employment outcomes of their former students with IEPs. In July, the Department emailed all Cohort 2 special education administrators with detailed instructions for this year’s Indicator 14 data collection. For additional information, please contact Amanda Green at 781-338-3368 or Amanda.C.Green@mass.gov.
28) Will data submission timelines be enforced for program and mid-cycle reviews for collaboratives and approved special education day and residential programs in WBMS?
Self-assessments for the 2020-2021 WBMS data submission for collaboratives and approved special education day and residential programs are due on August 24, 2020. Please contact Jannelle Roberts at:
with questions or to discuss the individual circumstances of your collaborative or approved special education school if an extension is necessary.
29) Given the COVID-19 situation, can the period of availability for IDEA Part B grant funds be extended?
The U.S. Department of Education has approved Massachusetts’ waiver request for the extension to obligate IDEA FY19 funds.This means that FY19 IDEA funds (fund codes 240 & 262) set to expire on September 30, 2020 can now be used until September 30, 2021. If a school or district has any unexpended FY19 fund code 240 &fund code 262 funds, the Department urges the school or district to continue to spend down these funds first. If the district still has unexpended FY19 funds and would like to continue to use the funds until September 30, 2021, the Department’s Grants Management Office will automatically handle the obligation period adjustments for the school or district. Schools and districts do not need to take any extra steps to secure this additional time. Schools and districts may contact the Federal Grant Programs office with any questions at
30) With the extended period of availability of funds, can the district have a second year (until September 30, 2021) to carry over any unspent FY19 proportionate share funds?
The extended period of availability of FY19 funds does not change the spending requirements and time frame in IDEA regarding the expenditure of a proportionate share of a district’s IDEA Part B funds on equitable services for parentally placed private school students with disabilities attending a private school located in the district, or eligible homeschool students. The district’s equitable services obligation must be spent in the year in which funds were appropriated or obligated during a carry-over period of one additional year. See Electronic Code of Federal Regulations
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 CDC, EPA, FDA, Mass EEA, Mass EEC, Mass 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!