Update on Special Education Services During Continued School Closure: March 31, 2020

A message from Pupil Personnel Services:

March 31, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians:

You have received previous notice that The Guilderland Central School District, in conjunction with other Capital Region school districts, made a decision that it is time to move classes forward and introduce the teaching of new content, which will start on Wednesday, April 1st. As all students move toward new learning, school districts must ensure that, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability can be provided the special education and related services identified in the student’s individualized education program (IEP).  Students with disabilities must be provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect their health and safety, as well as the health and safety of the individuals who provide them with their education, specialized instruction, and related services. NYSED will allow school districts as much flexibility as federal and State laws and regulations allow in determining how FAPE is to be provided during the Coronavirus outbreak, and they will continue to seek and provide further guidance regarding additional flexibility during this pandemic. 

The Guilderland Central School District will provide the following to students with disabilities:

  • Learning opportunities that are accessible, adapted, accommodated in accordance with your child’s IEP or Section 504 plan.
  • Lessons, tasks and activities that relate to the student’s IEP goals and objectives.
  • A schedule that minimizes conflicts as teachers and related service providers jointly schedule connection and learning opportunities with students.
  • Given the condensed curriculum and instructional format of the district’s distance learning plan, continuity of special education services will be achieved by using a variety of resources provided by our teachers and providers through collaboration to ensure educational materials are accessible, adapted, modified and appropriate in accordance with student’s IEPs, pre-recorded lessons, synchronous teaching (recorded for those who cannot attend) and teacher-designed learning activities. 

You can expect the following from your providers:

Consultant Teachers/Co-Teachers/Related Services/Resource Room and Tutorial Providers

All providers will work collaboratively with their content area partners to ensure that communication, virtual learning, and educational materials are accessible, adapted, modified and appropriate in accordance with student’s IEPs. Teachers/providers may provide synchronous virtual meetings in small groups or individually to check in with students to reinforce concepts and skills, provide re-teaching and/or pre-teaching. They may also provide pre-recorded videos to support the learning of new skills as well as opportunities for students to conference with them for assistance.

Comprehensive Skills Program

Activities will support functional academics, independent living and vocational activities that students can practice at home with materials typically found in the home:  money, time, measuring, menus, newspapers, magazines, grocery lists, etc. Teachers and related service providers may provide synchronous virtual meetings in small groups or individually to check in with students, reinforce concepts and skills, provide re-teaching and pre-teaching. They may also provide pre-recorded videos to support the learning of new skills as well as opportunities for students to conference with them for assistance. Related service providers will work collaboratively with their special class teachers to ensure that communication, virtual learning, and educational materials are accessible, adapted, modified and appropriate in accordance with student’s IEPs.

Out of District Programs

If your child attends an out of district program, your program providers will continue to share information, activities, and resources to support the continuity of learning within their programs.

IEP Goals and Progress Reporting

Third quarter progress reports will reflect progress through the first date of our district’s closure on March 13, 2020.  

During this upcoming period of remote learning, we are going to use a simplified, non-traditional model of measuring progress toward IEPs goals and objectives. Student work will be assessed to determine if they have demonstrated evidence of learning pertaining to individual goals and/or objectives. If they have not yet demonstrated this level of understanding, teachers and providers will designate their progress as “Not Yet Learned” and will provide additional opportunities for students to resubmit work. 

Evaluations/Re-evaluations

Per the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights fact sheet from March 16, 2020,  if an evaluation of a student with a disability requires a face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and re-evaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents.

Annual Reviews and CSE Meetings

Committees are not required to meet in person while schools are closed. We will be shifting meetings to a remote format such as video conferences and conference calls.  Your child’s special education provider and/or chairperson will electronically share relevant information prior to the meeting in order for you to participate remotely in the meeting. 

These are challenging and unprecedented times in education. During this time, we want all students and families to make every reasonable effort to engage with these new learning opportunities. We understand that there will be times when students will have conflicts with a scheduled time for a class, therefore it is also critical that students and parents make every effort to stay connected with their teachers and to communicate issues as they arise. Please reach out to your teacher, provider, or administrator if your child is having difficulties accessing their instruction.

Thank you for your continued partnership on this journey. We appreciate your support as we navigate these uncharted waters together. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your chairperson or administrators with any questions. We are available remotely.  We look forward to having your children back in school as soon as possible!  

Sincerely,

Lisa Knowles, Director for Pupil Personnel Services
knowlesl@guiderlandschools.net

Kellee deOlde, Instructional Administrator for Elementary/Preschool Special Education
deoldek@guilderlandschools.net

Mehgan Rivers, Instructional Administrator for Secondary Special Education
riversm@guilderlandschools.net

Audrey Douglas, MS CSE Chairperson
douglasa@guilderlandschools.net

Wendy McDowell, CPSE Chairperson
mcdowellw@guilderlandschools.net

Seana Winchester, GHS Chairperson
winchesters@guilderlandschools.net

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