Question & Answers Weston Public Schools & COVID-19 :
Q: Are the days during closure through May 4th counted as “school days”?
A: “Schools do not have to make up days that are canceled due to the public health emergency, beyond the previously set aside five school days,” Riley said during a remote meeting of the State Board of Education on Tuesday. “The state is not requiring any school to go beyond its previously scheduled 185th day of school.”-4/1/20 https://www.eagletribune.com/news/merrimack_valley/public-schools-wont-be-required-to-extend-year/article_746369a1-5655-5db4-8c8c-72dd7fc68e5a.html
Q: Are there expectations around Online Learning for Students? Is on-line learning mandatory for all students?
A: “The School from Home program allows Weston Public schools to extend learning into the home while keeping staff and students safe during our extended period of school cancellation due to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. While online learning days do not replace days at school (per guidelines from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education), they do provide students many varied opportunities to learn content, practice academic skills, and stay connected to their teachers. In short, School from Home will be where we teach and learn while our buildings are closed. “- 3/17/20 https://www.westonschools.org/blog/2020/03/17/school-from-home/
Q: After a few weeks of on line learning what are the updates to School from Home?
A: “Elementary School (grades K-5) from Home: we have kept the ethic of care — care for ourselves, care for others, and care for our community — as the basis for why we are making these important School from Home changes:The social-emotional safety, mental health, and overall well-being of students, families and staff is our priority at this time.
“Secondary School (grades 6-12) from Home:
Q: How will on-line learning be assessed once returned to school? K-2? 3-12?
A: “While students are online, our goals will be more focused on learning and less focused on measuring achievement. There will be no traditional grades when students are online. Teachers will assess student work and give individualized feedback as to whether students have met or not yet met learning goals. Assignments will be documented as complete or not yet complete. We hope to create a low-stakes online learning environment in this overall social climate filled with worry and anxiety. Middle and high school students will be formally assessed on their online learning when they return to school after a reasonable amount of lead time.” -3/17/20 https://www.westonschools.org/blog/2020/03/17/school-from-home/
Q: Given the school closure, what happens with the MCAS test for students?
A: “MCAS has been cancelled for Spring 2020”- 4/10/ 20 https://massteacher.org/news/2020/04/mcas-canceled-for-spring-2020
Q: Who do I contact for Technology issues?
A: “If you have questions or concerns about your student’s use of online tools, please contact me -Dr. Lee McCanne” Director of Technology and School Libraries firstname.lastname@example.org “or your Principal”. – 4/1/20 https://www.westonschools.org/blog/2020/04/01/letter-regarding-expectations-guidelines-for-student-parent-use-of-video-conferencing/
Q: How will Weston High School 3rd quarter be handled in regard to grades- if make up test or test retake needs to be done?
—3/26/20 -Email from Weston High School Administrative Team
Q: My child is on an IEP and/or 504 Plan, how will on-line teaching and learning support my child’s learning- Do I need to sign anything or make changes to the student’s IEP to provide these services?
A: “ It is not necessary for a district to convene an IEP Team to provide learning opportunities and services to students with disabilities during this period of extended school closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: If my child is on an IEP and received services i.e.. speech/language, counseling etc. Will my child receive these services during the closure?
A: “School districts are now being told that they have to provide as many IEP services as possible to your children during the COVID-19 crisis, while protecting the health and safety of families and teachers.
Schools may not be able to provide all services but here’s what they have to do right away:
Q: What types of services do schools need to provide when schools are closed due to COVID-19?
A: “Unfortunately schools may not be able to provide all of the services on students’ IEPs in the manner they are typically provided. However, the provision of FAPE should include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided remotely. Schools must provide both of the following types of services:
Q: How will parents be notified about the remote services the district plans to provide for their child?
A: “The state has encouraged school districts to provide parents with a remote learning plan, that will describe the instruction and services proposed for the student. The state emphasized that services should not be delayed while the district develops its capacity to provide parents with a remote learning plan. Districts can use the “N1” parent notification forms to inform parents about provision of remote services for their child. The student’s remotes services will be addressing the student’s current IEP goals and services, to the extent possible with the currently health and safety restrictions. Click here to see examples of remote learning plans provided by the state. “ – 4/3/20 Mass Advocates for Children https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d1cd93071be2d0001425ed6/t/5e8ba927488c3b3b52f5f60c/1586211111467/Q%26A.SpecialEdCOVID19.English.pdf
Q: What should be included in the remote service plan?
A: “The “remote learning plan” should address the student’s current IEP goals and services, to the extent possible with the current health and safety restrictions. The state education department has provided a template remote learning plan, as well as an example of a completed remote learning plan. The district can also provide the information about a child’s remote learning plan in the N1 parent notification form. The remote learning plan should provide information about your child’s instruction and services, including:
Q: What about timelines, do they apply during the closure?
A: “According to OSEP, in the March 21, 2020 Guidance: “As a general principle, during this unprecedented national emergency, public agencies are encouraged to work with parents to reach mutually agreeable extensions of time, as appropriate.” In light of the emergency situation created by the pandemic, parents may find it necessary or reasonable to agree to some extensions of time. It may be that it would be impossible, for some period of time, for some evaluations that require in-person observation to take place.” -3/31/20 COPAA FAQ on Impact of COVID-19 https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.copaa.org/resource/resmgr/docs/2020_docs/faq_final-3-31-2020.pdf
Q: Will the district meet special education evaluation timelines if schools are closed?
A: “The Department” (DESE) “recognizes that school closures may impact the ability of school districts to meet the 30-day timeline for conduct evaluations in addition to the 45 school working day timeline to develop an IEP after receipt of a parent’s written consent to evaluation or reevaluation. We encourage school teams and parents to work collaboratively and creatively to meet IEP timeline requirements. Districts are encouraged to work with parents to reach mutually agreeable extensions of timelines, as appropriate.” – 3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: My Child’s Team meeting is scheduled during the school closure- how can the district hold an IEP Team meeting if school is closed or Team members can’t meet face-to-face?
A: “ In circumstances where an IEP Team meeting may need to be convened during this time when IEP teams are not able to meet in person due to health and safety considerations while schools are closed, districts should convene IEP Team meetings telephonically or virtually using technologies such as Zoom. Districts must consider whether all IEP team members, particularly parents, have access to necessary technology and accommodations to allow remote participation.
Districts should ensure that interpreters are provided during telephonic or virtual IEP team meetings when the parents primary language is not English.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: My child’s IEP expires during the school closure- will it still be in effect?
A: “Yes. The current IEP will remain in effect until a new IEP is developed and accepted, irrespective of the expired date reflected in the IEP forms.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: Is an Local Education Agency (LEA)(aka Local District) required to continue to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities during a school closure caused by a COVID-19 outbreak?
A: “If an LEA continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE. (34 CFR §§ 104.4, 104.33 (Section 504) and 28 CFR § 35.130 (Title II of the ADA)). SEAs, LEAs, and schools 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 IEP developed under IDEA, or a plan developed under Section 504. (34 CFR §§ 300.101 and 300.201 (IDEA), and 34 CFR § 104.33 (Section 504)).” -3/2020 https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-covid-19-03-12-2020.pdf https://www.mpgfirm.com/covid-19/
Q: During the period of time a district is closed related to COVID-19, must the district provide special education services to students with disabilities?
A: “school districts must provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction, and related services to these students.” “…Schools may not be able to provide all services in the manner they are typically provided pursuant to students’ IEPs. The provision of FAPE may include, as appropriate, special education and related services provided remotely through resources and supports (such as strategies, projects and packets provided to students matched with regular and ongoing communication from special education team members) and services and instruction (such as virtual, online, or telephonic instruction). During this period of school closure, districts should make every effort to use creative strategies to provide special education instruction and services to the extent feasible.” – 3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: What are the district’s obligations to provide FAPE to students with disabilities during extended school closures related to this health emergency?
A: “… it may not be feasible during the current period of school closures to provide, for example, hands-on physical therapy, occupational therapy, or tactile sign language services However, many specialized instructional opportunities and related services may be modified to be effectively provided by sending resources and supports to students or online or telephonically. Such forms of specialized instruction may include, for instance, accessible reading materials, speech and language services through video conferencing, and videos with accurate captioning. Moreover, districts may continue to implement many of the accommodations on a student’s IEP, such as extensions of time for assignments, large print, and use of speech-to-text and other assistive technology.” “…Once school resumes, the district must review how the closure impacted the delivery of special education and related services to individual students and convene IEP Team meetings as necessary in order to make an individualized determination as to what compensatory services may be necessary, and to ensure the student receives FAPE prospectively.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: How often should districts communicate with parents and guardians during this period of school closure?
A: “School districts should ensure that an IEP Team member (e.g., classroom teacher, special ed teacher or other service provider) communicates regularly with parents and guardians during the period of school closure. The frequency and type of communication will vary depending on the child’s individual needs, the availability of the team member, and the mode of communication utilized. This ongoing communication will help educators and parents/guardians develop a plan for students to receive as much individualized instruction and related services as is feasible through distance learning or other remote learning opportunities. Communication will also promote and sustain important connections between students and their teachers, a source of vital support and stability for students.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: Does the district need to provide all services on a student’s IEP remotely?
A: “During this national emergency, schools may not be able to provide all services in the same manner they are typically provided. Many disability-related modifications and services may be effectively provided remotely. These may include, for instance, extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing. It is important to emphasize that federal disability law allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. The determination of how FAPE is to be provided may need to be different in this time of unprecedented national emergency.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: Are all students eligible for compensatory services following these extended closures? If the district provides services to a student with an IEP remotely, whether some IEP services or all, must the district provide additional services (or compensatory services) to that student when school resumes?
A: “Whether a student is entitled to receive compensatory services because of the school’s closure is an individualized determination to be made by the IEP team. Doing everything possible now to provide required special education instruction and services will be the most effective way for school districts to mitigate the need to provide compensatory services in the future. DESE anticipates providing further guidance regarding compensatory services before schools re-open in accordance with any further advice on this topic from USED.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: What types of services can be provided remotely?
A: “…DESE encourages parents, educators, and administrators to collaborate creatively to continue to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Consider practices such as distance instruction, teletherapy and tele-intervention, meetings held on digital platforms, online options for data tracking, and documentation. In addition, districts can provide resources and supports such as instructional packets, projects, and written assignments that are not dependent on students’ access to technology.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: How can residential schools, group homes etc. for students with disabilities maintain health and safety during the novel coronavirus outbreak?
A: “Residential special education schools or programs should refer to the guidance issued by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services for residential, congregate care and shelter providers on March 22 (updated March 25).” -4/1/20 See guidance –https://www.mass.gov/info-details/residential-congregate-care-and-shelter-providers-april-1-2020-coronavirus-update
Q: Can parties get an extension on BSEA due process hearing timelines?
A: “While the IDEA provides that a final decision on a due process complaint must be issued not later than 45 days after the expiration of the 30-day resolution period, a hearing officer can grant an extension of time beyond the required timelines at the request of either party.
Please note that effective March 15, 2020, the Bureau of Special Education Appeals will not hold any proceedings in person until further notice. The BSEA will provide opportunities for remote participation, as feasible.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: Will mediations that are scheduled with the BSEA occur during the period of school closure?
A: “Effective March 15, 2020, the Bureau of Special Education Appeals will not hold mediations in person until further notice. Opportunities for remote participation will be offered, as feasible. The BSEA will contact parties as the date of the scheduled proceeding approaches to make necessary arrangements.” -3/26/20 https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/032620_final_dese_covid19-faq.pdf
Q: I have not received notification from the district about what services will be provided what should I do?
A: “Reach to the school and ask for services – MAC has a sample letter on their website https://www.massadvocates.org/covid19
~Collaborative effort – Remember that parents know their child better than anyone else
~Be prepared to make suggestions on what would be most helpful for you and your child
~Realize that it is not possible for your child to get all the services and benefits of going to school five full days a week
~Be prepared to compromise” -4/3/20 SPaN/FCSN Webinar- Anne Howard Ph.D. https://spanmass.org/uploads/3/4/9/4/34944876/ann_howard_parent_teaching.pdf
CORONAVIRUS/ COVID- 19 RESOURCES
DESE -Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:
Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 page at www.mass.gov/covid19 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for schools.
DESE Commissioner Riley Updates:
March 15th School Closure https://www.mass.gov/doc/march-15-2020-school-closure-order
Guidance to Elementary and Secondary Schools Regarding COVID-19 Open DOCX file, 25.31 KB, for
Guidance to Elementary and Secondary Schools Regarding COVID-19 (DOCX 25.31 KB)
Massachusetts DESE: Coronavirus/Covid-19 FAQ for Schools and Districts regarding Special Education
Coronavirus/Covid-19 Frequently Asked Questions For Schools And Districts Regarding Special Education (Revised March 26, 2020 based on United States Department of Education (USED) Supplemental Facts Sheet, released March 21, 2020)
(Revised March 26, 2020 based on US Department of Education Supplemental Facts Sheet released *March 21, 2020)
Massachusetts DESE: Recommendations for Remote Learning
FEDERAL: COVID-19 Resource Page
U.S.D.O.E. — Supplemental Fact Sheet — Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities, March 21, 2020 and press release. -March 21, 2020
U.S.D.O.E. — U.S. Department of Education Releases Webinar, Fact Sheet for Protecting Students’ Civil Rights During COVID-19 Response — March 17, 2020
Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) COVID-19 Resource Page
Massachusetts Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPaN) COVID-19 Resource Page
Federation for Children with Special Needs (FCSN) COVID-19 Resource Page
EdLaw project –COVID-19 Resource Page
Disability Law Center COVID-19 Resource Page
National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) COVID-19 Resource Page
The Arc of Massachusetts COVID-19 Resource Page
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) COVID-19 Resource Page
Parent Professional Advocacy League (PPAL) COVID-19 Resource Page
Asperger’s Association of New England (AANE) COVID-19 Resource Page
Mass Teachers Association (MTA) COVID-19 Resource Page
Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) COVID-19 Resource Page