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An Update for Special Education and Distance Learning

Translations available in Russian * Ukrainian * Arabic * Farsi (Dari)

The translation for Spanish is in progress and will be posted when available.

In this update: 

Overview

Mod/Severe Program

Professional Learning

Comparison of Learning Models with Special Ed

Sample Student Schedules

Sample Schedule - Student A

Sample Schedule - Student B

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 workgroups 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 are 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

Graphic listing lessons learned from implementation of distance learning.

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. 

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Mod/Severe Program

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). 

 Table listing instructional models to be offered as health conditions change.

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Professional Development

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

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Comparisons:  
Distance Learning vs Homeschool vs Independent Study for Special Education Students.

All services provided virtually during COVID-19 school closure.

 

Distance Learning

Homeschool

Independent Study

Grades Served

TK-12

TK-8

9-12

Enrollment Process

Follows regular school/IEP 

Automatic

Parent Choice/

Voluntary transfer

Parent Choice/

Voluntary transfer

IEP Implementation

IEP is met to the best ability possible in the DL model on a virtual platform

IEP must be held to reflect the new program. (Specialized instruction is available through consult model)

IEP must be held to adjust FAPE. (Specialized academic instruction is available through consult model)

Service Delivery of FAPE

Teacher/case manager and service provider to provide services to the greatest extent possible, but will require Zoom, teletherapy, etc. Related services provided as outlined in the IEP.

Parent is the teacher, meets with a credentialed teacher approximately every 20 days to review progress. Related services provided as outlined in the IEP.

Student/family 

Related services provided as outlined in the IEP.

Method of Instruction

Daily live instruction with case manager/teachers/support providers as outlined in the IEP.

For M/S packets using ULS curriculum- packets developed for one month at a time

Course packets at grade level.  

Teacher support provided

As with traditional school models, each classroom is assigned a specific teacher to provide specialized instruction.

Parents/guardians are assigned an advisory teacher who assists with selecting materials, determining pacing and reviewing student progress towards IEP goals.

Students are paired with a specialist to help determine course selection aligned with student’s learning goals;  provides feedback on progress towards IEP goals and monitors participation.

Classroom community and student schedule

Students are engaged in daily live instruction, shared instruction and socialization activities as outlined in student IEP.

 

Follows teacher/class schedule

Learning is independent in home.

 

Parent determines schedule, checks in approximately every 20 days with homeschool teacher.

Learning is independent for the student.

Parent determines student’s schedule, weekly check-in appointment with teacher. 

Seat saved for 2020-2021 year if school returns to traditional format

Yes

Yes

Yes

Allows switching between models

Students can move from distance learning to TK-8 homeschool or 9-12 independent study. Refer to IEP implementation section above for further guidance

Students can move from TK-8 homeschool to distance learning provided room is available. Refer to IEP implementation section above for further guidance

Shift can be done at semester break. Refer to IEP implementation section above for further guidance

 

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What does Distance Learning Look Like? (Sample Schedules)

  • Asynchronous - students could access Unique Learning Systems lessons, adapted physical education, life skills, health, etc.   (60 + minutes daily)
  • Synchronous - students would meet 1:1 with case managers for additional specialized instruction focusing specifically on goal areas: 20 minutes - 14 students spread over 2 days. Teachers meet 1:1 with students every other day. Opposite days meeting with instructional assistant, supporting instruction previously given (80+ minutes daily for teacher/instructional assistant “live”).
  • Synchronous - social-emotional piece, life skills. Small group instruction 30- 60 minutes daily.  Instructional assistants supporting could go into break out rooms for a smaller group, specific focus.
  • Synchronous - Related services. The ratio to be determined by student needs.
  • As with all of our students, M/S students would have access to English language development, support center services daily as need is determined by IEP.
  • FAPE: Offered as written to the greatest extent possible.

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SAMPLE STUDENT A SCHEDULE:

** Sample schedule for illustrative purposes only. Please refer to your student’s school site for actual schedule **

8-9 a.m.  
Asynchronous working on Unique Learning Systems foundational math lesson

9:30-10:30 a.m.
Synchronous class session; all students, teacher and instructional assistant

11-11:20 a.m.  
Synchronous 1:1 session with teacher or instructional assistant. Teacher working directly on goal areas, instructional assistant support work assigned by teacher

***lunch***

12:30-1:30 p.m. 
Asynchronous working on Unique Learning Systems foundational English language arts lesson

1:45- 2:15 p.m.

Related Service – Speech

2:30- 3:00 p.m.      
Related Service - Occupational therapy

Related services as outlined in IEP (including English language development, support center) – synchronous

 

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SAMPLE STUDENT B SCHEDULE:

** Sample schedule for illustrative purposes only. Please refer to your student’s school site for actual schedule **

8-8:20 a.m. 
1:1 synchronous session with teacher or instructional assistant.  Teacher working directly in goal areas, instructional assistant supporting work assigned by teacher.

8:35-9:10 a.m.  
Synchronous related service - ex Speech, additional services can be supported after the end of day as well.

9:30-10:30 a.m.  
Synchronous class session; all students, teacher and instructional assistant

10:30-11:30 a.m. 
Asynchronous, working on Unique Learning Systems foundational English language arts

***lunch***

12:30-1:30 p.m. 
Asynchronous, working on Unique Learning Systems foundational math

1:45- 2:15 p.m.   
Related Service- Adapted physical education

2:30 -3:00 p.m.
Related Service - Speech 

Related services as outlined in IEP (including English language development, support center) - synchronous

******80+ minutes synchronous per day with teacher/Instructional Assistant

****** 120+ minutes asynchronous per day working in foundational areas.

****** 30+ minutes per day for related services as outlined in IEP.

*Schedule/delivery model will be adjusted for preschool.