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Continuity of Learning – Special Education

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Overview

As the coronavirus continued to spread and its impact on the school system became imminent, HCPSS staff began preparing for the possibility of distance learning. With over 8,000 staff and nearly 59,000 students, a long-term continuity of learning plan requires adequate time to train staff, refine instructional materials, develop instructional delivery models that reach all students by determining and addressing technology needs, engaging families, and establishing expectations for learning for all. HCPSS is required to provide opportunities that serve all students, including those who receive special education services or have a 504 plan.

The HCPSS Special Education Department has communicated with families of students who receive special education services. In these communications, parents were notified that school-based staff will continue to work alongside families to best meet the needs of their child.

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) provided each local school system with guidance to address complex questions related to applying the guidance provided by the United States Department of Education (USDE). Specifically, the USDE’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services provided guidance which included a section stating that “If an LEA (local education agency) 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 (Free and Public Education).” Additionally, the guidance states that we 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 (Individualized Education Program) developed under IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), or a plan developed under Section 504.”

A countywide plan for special education services is not being developed because every child’s plan is unique to them and each child will essentially have their own individualized continuity of learning plan. Parents are being offered several options to collaborate with staff on how best to support their child and will engage in conferences and/or IEP team meetings as necessary. HCPSS is aligned with federal and state guidance to collaborate with each and every family in order to reach an agreement. The information on this page is intended to provide a higher level understanding of how students receiving special education services will be supported during the school closure and Continuity of Learning plan. As additional information is received from federal and state entities, we will continue to update this page.

Timeline

Monday, March 30 – Friday, April 3: Special education teachers received training on special education compliance, technology tools and instructional materials to support student learning.

Service coordinators/case managers (i.e., teachers, related and support service providers) communicated with families through April 24, 2020 and began scheduling/discussing your child’s individualized continuity of learning plan for special education.

April 3, 2020: Special education teachers and providers contacted families with a child in the following levels or programs – High School (including all regional/special programs), Homewood School, and Project Search and Community Connections. Note: April 3 represents the earliest families can expect to hear from their teacher or provider.

April 6, 2020: Special education teachers and providers began contacting families with a child in the following levels or programs – Elementary and Middle (including all regional/special programs) and Cedar Lane. Note: April 6 represents the earliest families can expect to hear from their teacher or provider.

  • Special education teachers and providers have already begun contacting families with a child in the Infant and Toddler program.
  • Meetings will be held through a virtual conference and coordinated by your administrator/teacher/provider as needed. You will receive instructions for how to participate in the virtual meeting along with all documents to be discussed at the meeting.
  • For parents of students with IEPs, documents will be sent to you before and after meetings. The document you will receive prior to the virtual conference will include information to help you meaningfully participate in decision-making for your child’s special education services. For families with children with IFSPs, to ensure meaningful participation, the process will remain the same with your provider making the initial contact to discuss early intervention services. Documentation from the virtual conference will then be sent home.

April 14, 2020: High school students begin remote learning.

April 20, 2020: Middle school and Elementary school students begin remote learning.

PREK–12 Family Online Resources

These resources are designed to provide ideas for engaging your child in learning activities and keeping them intellectually active while they are home. The activity ideas do not represent the level of instruction that occurs in our schools nor do they represent specially designed instruction as provided by special education services.

You can refer to your child’s IEP for information about the skills on which you could focus. Read the Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance section of the IEP to identify your child’s instructional levels. Also, read the Supplementary Aids information found in the IEP to review what types of support the school-based team typically uses to help your child learn.

Below is a list of supplemental resources for families that may be helpful for supporting aspects of your child’s IFSP/IEP. Please check back for updates as additional resources are added.

General Resources

Brain POP

Educational videos and learning activities for students ages K–8th grade. Choose Family Access.

Grade Level: K–8

BrainPop Jr.

Educational videos and learning activities for students in Kindergraten through 3rd grade. Choose Family Access.

Grade Level: K–3

Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom.

Grade Level: PreK–12

Math

LearnZillon

Instructional math videos for students.

Grade Level: K–12

Desmos

A free, online graphing calculator that students can use.

Grade Level: 6–12

English Language Arts

MackinVIA

Students can read ebooks and listen to audiobooks via Tumblebooks. In addition, students can access online databases and encyclopedias using their active directory login.

Grade Level: PreK–12

No Red Ink

NoRedInk builds stronger writers through interest-based curriculum, adaptive exercises, and actionable data.

Grade Level: 5–12

Social, Emotional, and Behavior

GoNoodle

GoNoodle: Good Energy at Home provides ways for kids and families to move and learn together.

  • Movement, yoga, and mindfulness videos
  • Downloadable curricular activities
  • Recommended off-screen home activities

Grade Level: PreK–5