Special Education Program Overview
The onset of COVID 19 and the subsequent shift to distance learning brought about a number of challenges to all of our students receiving special education services. In particular, our students in self-contained classes with moderate to severe disabilities faced complex challenges in the distance learning mode. Parent feedback (from five focus groups held in Spring 2020 along with a district survey) served as confirmation.
Consequently, we established on-going special education work groups composed of a variety of staff who used parent input along with the successes and the struggles of the past few months to improve practices and services to our students. Many parents have already noted an improvement based on the feedback received during our extended school year (ESY) sessions this summer.
While we know that our students would benefit most from in-person services, the current restrictions imposed by the California Department of Public Health prohibit the reopening of schools. Distance learning will be used when school resumes this fall and we have taken the following measures to strengthen the program and increase consistency to ensure the best service for our students during this difficult time.
- An expanded Special Education team is working alongside the general education team for lessons designed to align to essential standards. The lesson designs may be delivered via distance learning, homeschool, independent study, or (when we’re able to return to campuses) a hybrid in-person model. The distance learning model will be a blend of interactive (synchronous) and independent (asynchronous) instruction. Special education teacher(s) as indicated by student enrollment will be trained to provide services through the district’s TK-8 Homeschool Program.
- A modified in-person program established specifically for moderate to severe students has been designed and set to begin as soon as restrictions are lifted.
- A professional development plan for staff that focuses on on-line instruction and therapy as well as de-escalation strategies in the virtual classroom.
- Annual individualized education plan (IEP) meetings will continue to be held. Triannuals and Initial IEPs meetings continue to be on hold per guidance from the California Department of Education.
Some differences you may notice from the Spring 2020 distance learning to Fall 2020 distance learning are:
- Increased daily interaction with a consistent weekly schedule for our students
- A daily blending of synchronous and asynchronous instruction allowing for breaks between the two instruction models
- Enhanced delivery of related services
Students supported in a mild/moderate program will follow alongside their general education peers. IEP recommendations will be followed to the greatest extent possible with their support of their Case Manager and related service providers.
Students enrolled in self-contained classes will be provided daily classroom instruction via Zoom.
Moderate/Severe teachers will provide a combination of synchronous and asynchronous learning aligned with the continuum that was presented at the board meeting on July 16. Teachers will utilize the board adopted curriculum to support students’ IEP goals. Special Education Teachers have been working alongside the general education team for lesson design of essential standards this summer.
Students will receive related service(s) (such as OT, AT, SLP, APE, ERMHS, etc.) remotely. IEP minutes during distance learning will be provided to the best extent possible using pending guidelines from the California Department of Education (CDE).
Teachers will participate in professional development provided by the Special Education Department in order to support distance learning models prior to the start of the school year.
Some topics may include:
- Social-emotional support for students, families and staff to strengthen homeschool connection.
- De-escalation strategies for virtual classrooms
- Unique Learning Systems (ULS) or other board adopted curriculum
- Theranest - a method of providing related services