Special Education FAQ
Special Education FAQ
1: How will my child’s IEP be implemented? Will there be any changes to services and if so, how will that be communicated?
- Until school returns to regular operating conditions, DFSD may need to utilize flexibility with respect to the IEP implementation for delivery of services during school closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak. For example, there may be a need for flexibility for specific group size for related services, frequency, duration, and location of related services and special class ratio, etc. A guide to how services will be implemented in our child’s respective school can be accessed here. Thoughtful consideration has been provided as to how to best maximize support within the respective hybrid programs while also maintaining health and safety standards.
2: How will related services be implemented (OT, PT, psychological counseling and speech-language services)
- Due to the fact that related service providers support students across multiple grade levels, often in small group settings, related services will be provided remotely for the majority of our students in order to prevent inadvertent cross contamination. For our special class life skills students across the district, services will be provided F2F to the greatest extent possible.
3: My child’s needs may require a staff member to be less than 6ft. away from them, how will you protect their health and safety?
- All teachers, Teaching Assistants (TAs), and related service providers who may not be able to maintain a 6 ft. distance due to a child’s specific needs will be provided with the appropriate PPE in order to maintain health and safety. This would include masks, face shields, gloves and in some instances, gowns.
- Portable polycarbonate shields will be provided in most classrooms and other spaces for situations where teachers or related service providers must move closer to students.
- Any questions regarding cleaning or health and safety protocols can be found on the Health & Safety FAQ
4: My child struggled in the remote model last year. What supports are in place to help them succeed?
- Students K-12 this year will be provided an increased amount of both in-person and synchronous remote instruction. Additional contact time has been designated on Wednesdays on all levels and during the afternoon in Secondary to support students who continue to struggle.
5: My child has difficulty attending during both classroom and remote instruction. What supports will be put in place?
- One of the benefits of the hybrid schedule is the reduction in class size for all in-person learning grades K-8 which will allow for a smaller teacher-to-student ratio. In this covid era, non-verbal cueing systems will allow us to redirect in a safe distance, while more frequent checks for understanding will allow us to assess what students may have missed. Many students will have the opportunity to work with TAs (teaching assistants) outside of the classroom to help reinforce learning when they are working remotely. Staff have been developing systems to allow for redirecting students discreetly during remote instruction, as well as systems for reteaching or rephrasing of instructions during synchronous remote instruction.
6: My child really struggled with organization during remote instruction. How will they be supported this year?
- Some feedback we heard loud and clear was that there was a lot of information that was coming from different platforms, which made it difficult for students and parents to organize. Building level administrators have worked to streamline technology and the process of assigning work. Additional contact time on Wednesdays and M/T/Th/F afternoons will allow us to work with students individually and in small groups to make sure they are up to date with assignments and provide additional organizational support. TAs will also have training on executive functioning/organizational skills to better help support students in this area.
7: My child requires breaks on their IEP/504 to address ADHD/Sensory/Anxiety needs. How will they be able to access them?
- This was one of our most commonly asked questions, and also one of our most common accommodations for students. In an effort to maintain health and safety standards, as well as to reduce loss of instruction, we are striving to keep most breaks inside the classroom by utilizing specific space for movement or mindfulness breaks in a socially-distanced and discreet part of the classroom. There may be times when students need to leave the classroom and they will be briefed on protocols for how to achieve this safely at the start of the school year. For students who need access to a preferred person or nurse during the day, they will have protocols in place that will vary depending on their age and ability to make sure these needs are met. Within remote learning, breaks will be part of instruction. Teachers will provide students with protocols for how to achieve their breaks without loss of instruction.
8: How will my child’s accommodations/modifications be communicated to their teachers? Will accommodations/modifications still need to be followed in a remote classroom?
- Staff will continue to review the necessary accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities to progress in the general education curriculum. Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks and/or assignments are presented. Modifications are changes in what students are expected to learn. Both accommodations and modifications ensure equity and access to the general education curriculum in consideration of a student’s unique disability-related needs. Teachers have on-going communication with case managers and points-of-contact in order to ask any questions they have about implementing accommodations. Some accommodations translate easily across both the in-person and remote models, while others have to be reimagined to meet student needs in new environments. For example, some students have access to another location for completing tests in order to allow for extra time or reduced distractions. In order to reduce unnecessary exposure, teachers will need to determine if their new smaller cohorts would allow for an appropriate reduction of distraction in the classroom. Extended time may continue into students’ remote learning time or content labs in order to maximize in-person learning time. Regardless, accommodations will still be implemented.
9: How will my child’s goals be monitored? What if they are not meeting their goals?
- Discussions have been had at all levels with teachers and staff to ensure that they will be able to continue to monitor student goals and progress in both hybrid and remote environments. If a student is not making adequate progress on their goals, they will be identified as needing additional support during our Wednesday and afternoon time. If a student continues to not make adequate progress, a CSE meeting will be convened to determine if supports need to be amended to better meet student needs. Some goals, for example, a goal that addresses transitioning between classrooms, may need to be amended to reflect a reduced access to that environment/skill now that specific health and safety measures are in place.
10: For students that are transitioning from 5th to 6th and 8th to 9th, how is information being shared?
- Most transition meetings last Spring included a school counselor or other staff member from the new building students would be transitioning into in order to proactively facilitate that transition. Related service providers have a common scheduling day prior to the start of school to allow them to share student feedback and thoughtfully plan for group and individual services. Internal documentation is also shared with appropriate staff to alert them of concerns for students both with and without IEP/504 supports who may need a bit more monitoring. For example, mental health staff meet during the previous school year to discuss students transitioning and the various supports they may need. All staff has access to students’ IEPs and 504 if they work with that student.
11: How will CSE/CPSE meetings be facilitated?
- All CSE/CPSE meetings, including Eligibility Determination/Annual Review Meetings/Re-evaluation Meetings will continue remotely until health and safety standards reduce restrictions on in-person meetings. Teleconferencing information will be communicated prior to your child’s meeting to all attending members.
12: Can I still refer my child for special education (CSE) or a 504 plan?
- Yes. We are currently conducting all necessary evaluations in-person to determine eligibility for CSE and 504.
13: How will my child be able to build social relationships with peers while maintaining social distancing?
- Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and other social opportunities like group activities will be thoughtfully integrated into classes K-12. PD for teachers will include ways to support social emotional needs such as recognizing social cues while wearing PPE. Related services providers will continue with social skills groups and in-person services will be available for students to the greatest extent possible when appropriate for targeted social skills.
14: My child has a medical diagnosis which requires them to receive medical care from the nurse. Will they have any contact with sick students in the nurse’s office?
- Students who are suspected of having Covid like symptoms will be directed to a separate location from the nurse’s office.
15: My child participates in the vocational program in their life skills class. How will that program be affected by these changes?
- Students will still be able to participate in vocational activities. Some activities may not be possible at this time if we are unable to perform them within the necessary health and safety standards, but we are working to develop other business enterprises that we can continue with, especially any that utilize the outdoors! Some vocational activities may be supported during Wednesday remote learning time if there is a fear that they could conflict with health and safety standards.
16: In the plan it says, "to the degree possible the District will prioritize in-person services for those students with the highest degree of need." How do you determine the highest degree of need?
- Highest level of need would be provided to students in the most restrictive setting as defined by the NYSED. In DFSD, Students who are in full time self-contained life skills classes are considered those with the higher level of need based on that guidance.
17: My child has an IEP, will they have opportunities to interact with General Education peers?
- All students have been programmed to be in the least restrictive environment possible, which translates to as much time with their General Education peers as possible. For students in the Life Skills Special classes, this may be impacted by the reduced frequency of in-person learning, or programming that requires most specials and electives to be provided remotely. In those instances we will work to provide social and learning experiences remotely with General Education peers.
18: My child has both co-taught and self-contained life skills classes, how will this affect their programming?
- For students who have a more dynamic program, we will be looking at their needs on a case-by-case basis to determine the best way to support their needs and we will communicate that plan with parents prior to the first day of school.
19: My child attends a CSE recommended school outside of the District. How will I know their plan?
- All out of district programs should have communicated their reopening plans and your child’s schedule with you. If you have not heard from them, please feel free to contact the Special Education Office.
20: I have a child receiving services through CPSE. Will they be remote or in-person?
- CPSE related services and SEIT services are provided by agencies and Westchester Dept. of Health who will determine whether or not their providers can provide in-person or remote services. Students who attend SCIS and Special Class programs should be contacted by their child’s program regarding the terms of their reopening. Parents who are unsure of their child’s program reopening plan should contact the Special Education Office.