Fall 2020 Guidance – Special Education

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Fall 2020 Guidance – Special Education

Legal Requirement

Lamar CISD will ensure that students with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). We will 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).

General Guidance

  • Students with disabilities will follow the same guidelines and protocols as their nondisabled peers with special consideration given to meet their individual needs.

  • Parents whose students are entitled to instructional and related services through an ARD (Admission, Review and Dismissal)/IEP or §504 Plan, and who choose to enroll them in Lamar CISD’s virtual instruction option will be required to amend their student’s IEP or convene an appropriate meeting to revise their supports and services to ensure the District meets their individual needs.

  • Special education instructional and related services will be provided in accordance with the ARD/IEP either virtually or face-to-face.

  • Transportation for virtual instruction students taking on-campus courses will not be provided, except as documented through an ARD/IEP if the student is eligible for special education transportation as a related service in order to access their special education services.

  • To minimize potential exposure to our most vulnerable students with disabilities, Lamar CISD will:

    • Focus on social distancing, handwashing or hand sanitizer for 20 seconds every hour and wearing masks.

    • Require masks when social distancing is not possible.

    • Post visual supports throughout building to remind and support understanding of expectations.

    • Keep each student’s belongings separated using student designated containers or areas.

    • Minimize sharing of high-touch materials (e.g., assign each student their own device/materials for the day when possible).

    • Sanitize all used materials daily. 

    • Utilize protective barriers and face shields as appropriate.

    • Utilize grouping and scheduling strategies to reduce exposure.

IEP Implementation

Lamar CISD is committed to meeting the unique needs of students with disabilities by ensuring that ARD/IEP or 504 Committees convene as needed to discuss needs, review progress and make individualized recommendations for our students.

  • Lamar CISD will review all health plans and IEPs prior to re-entry into in-person instruction and revise them through an ARD with appropriate safety protocols as needed.

  • Documentation of Services

    • The student's schedule of special education and related services should be accurately documented in the ARD/IEP to reflect what supports and services the student requires for FAPE, whether attending school in person or virtually.

    • Students with disabilities must have available an instructional day commensurate with that of students without disabilities.

    • A contingency plan for services should be documented within the deliberations of every ARD/IEP outlining how services will be implemented during virtual instruction.

    • Data should be collected weekly, at minimum, on IEP goals/objectives.

  • Lack of Progress Guidance

    • Whether in-person or virtual, special education teachers should review the progress of each student on their caseload weekly (i.e., grade books, data collection, etc.) and determine what, if any, additional supports may be needed for each student to continue to progress in the general education curriculum and on their IEP goals/objectives.

    • Special education teachers should consider alternate strategies/supports to ensure continued progress (more synchronous instruction, more small group support, etc.).

    • Special education teachers should, after other interventions have been unsuccessful, request to convene an ARD/IEP committee meetings to address lack of progress.

    • When in-person instruction resumes fully, annual ARD committees should address student-specific needs resulting from closure. On a case-by-case basis, this might include discussions of COVID-related compensatory services or a need for extended school year (ESY) services. ARD/IEP committees should:

      • Answer any questions and address any parent concerns regarding COVID-related compensatory services;

      • Determine what services, if any, are needed;

      • Document the discussion and decision in the deliberations, including:

        1. Start and end dates;
        2. Frequency;
        3. Duration;
        4. Area of service; and
        5. Goals services will address.
    • Provide prior written notice to parents following any offer of COVID-related compensatory services; and

    • Indicate whether the parents agree with the recommendation of COVID-related compensatory or ESY services.

Special Education Services On-Campus

  • Group sizes will comply with state and local regulations.

  • Multiple groups may use a shared space only when the area is large enough to allow for all students and their respective desks to be socially distant.

  • Special education teachers should provide services by grade level rather than content area as much as possible.

  • Designated spaces in the resource room or flex areas should be used for small group instruction.

    • Face coverings and protective barriers should be used when appropriate.

    • Speech-language pathologists and teachers of the deaf or hard of hearing will wear clear face masks/shields as needed.

    • Clear barriers should be used for small group instruction and individual assessments as needed.

  • Students should be taught good handwashing techniques and provided frequent opportunities to wash their hands with prompting when necessary. As appropriate, students should engage in supervised handwashing when entering/leaving the class, before/after meals, before/after the restroom and other scheduled times during the day.

  • Employees should wear face coverings over the nose and mouth when appropriate, as outlined in the Disease Mitigation Guidance.

  • Students for whom it is developmentally appropriate should wear face coverings over the nose and mouth as explained in the Disease Mitigation Guidance, except while engaging in an activity where the mask cannot be worn (e.g., eating). Students’ individual needs will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Floor tape or dividers should be used to separate large areas into smaller spaces.

Provision of Resource, Co-Teach and Inclusion Services

For students receiving on-campus services, the following will occur:

  • Special education teachers will follow the general education guidance and complete lesson plans for each resource class whether virtual or face-to-face.

  • Special and general education teachers will collaborate to ensure lessons are designed to meet the needs of all students.

  • Special education teachers are required to complete differentiated lesson plans to meet the needs of the IEP-entitled students they support whether instruction is virtual or face-to-face.

For students who choose the virtual instruction option, teachers will:

  • Develop individualized lessons;

  • Provide direct instruction through scheduled synchronous sessions;

    • If a student is unable to participate during synchronous sessions and accesses lessons at another time, the ARD committee should convene to document how the IEP will be implemented.

  • Provide links to virtual platforms for lesson participation;

  • Upload daily/weekly lesson materials to the District-designated virtual platforms (Canvas, etc.);

  • Document student participation and attendance on the student’s log;

  • Collect data and monitor progress; and

  • Request an ARD/IEP committee meeting to address any concerns with progress on IEP goals/objectives or in the general education curriculum.

Instructional and Related Services

Services providers should:

  • Ensure group sizes comply with state and local regulations.

  • Develop schedules that maximize time in a single classroom and minimize the number of rooms visited per day.

  • Provide direct service minutes in alignment with the IEP schedule of services.

  • Designate spaces in the resource room or flex areas for small group instruction.

  • Provide direct and indirect services virtually when possible.

  • Maintain assignments and activities of lessons used.

  • Maintain accurate contact/service logs, documenting minutes provided.

  • Face coverings and protective barriers should be used when appropriate.

  • Speech-language pathologists and teachers of the deaf or hard of hearing will wear clear face masks/shields as needed.

  • Clear barriers should be used for small group instruction and individual assessments as needed.

  • Students for whom it is developmentally appropriate should wear face coverings over the nose and mouth, except while engaging in an activity where the mask cannot be worn (e.g., eating). Students’ individual needs will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

  • Adhere to District expectations for PPE and scheduling to minimize cross-contamination.

Guidelines for Community-Based Instruction

  • Specific permission from parents/guardians allowing their student to participate in community-based outings during the pandemic must be provided in writing prior to the outing.

  • Outings will be limited to groups of 3-4 students and will follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines for transporting students.

  • Students will be pre-taught COVID-19 safety and hygiene routines prior to going out into the community (i.e., covering your mouth and nose with an appropriate face covering when out in public; avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth; disinfecting shopping carts; using touchless payment options and minimizing cash handling; immediately washing/sanitizing hands, etc.).

  • Close contact with others will be limited and distance of at least 6 feet maintained when possible.

  • Staff will use verbal reminders and visual supports with students to maintain 6 feet distance from workers and customers.

  • The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Guidelines for Work-Based Learning in the Community Setting 

  • Students and staff will review return to work and social distancing procedures for all community businesses prior to outings and follow them when on the job.

  • Support students’ access and understanding of performing preventative measures related to their job or traveling using public transportation with the following resources:

Times of Closure

Upon notice that a campus is closed:

  • Contact/service logs will be maintained by special education staff;

  • Material distribution procedures should be followed by service providers;

  • Virtual learning guidelines and IEP contingency plans should be followed;

  • ARDs will proceed virtually throughout closure, adhering to legal timelines; and

  • If an evaluation timeline cannot be met due to closure, the impact of the delay on services must be addressed when the ARD committee convenes to review evaluation results and develop the IEP.

Exposure Prevention Strategies

Special education services are oftentimes delivered in a small group setting with hands-on support. Special education teachers and service providers will take care to reduce any unintentional exposure by:

  • Creating supplementary aid and manipulative kits for each student

    • Update as needed per unit of instruction

    • Follow procedures for sanitizing items prior to adding to a student’s bag

    • Laminate supplemental aids so they can be easily cleaned and reused

  • Strategically scheduling students

    • Limit variation of student groupings

    • Minimize number of resource staff working with a group of students

    • Adhere to District guidelines regarding number of students and staff in a specific location at any given time

  • Facilitating safe small group activities

    • Adhere to social distancing requirements

    • Ensure sanitization of space before and after each small group

    • Use dividers if students need to work in close proximity to complete activities

    • Always wear appropriate face covering during small group instruction

  • Supervising transitions

    • Follow District guidelines

    • Enforce social distancing of students in hallways and other common areas

    • Provide visual supports or schedules that highlight social distancing when transitioning between classrooms or activities

Emergency Closure Kits

Supplementary aids and manipulatives should be prepared in Ziploc bags ready to send home for students in the event the campus needs to close unexpectedly.

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