Special Education and continuity of learning

A letter from FUFSD Committee on Special Education

Dear Families:

In an effort to aggressively slow the spread of COVID-19, New York State’s Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has ordered the closure of all schools in the state of New York until April 15, 2020. In addition, there is indication that schools may be ordered to remain closed for a longer period in an effort to continue social distancing and slow the rate at which this virus spreads.

We appreciate the concerns of parents and students, especially those who depend on the delivery of special education instruction, accommodations, supports and related services. This letter contains important information about our plan for implementing special education instruction, providing related services during the extended closures. Administration and staff have been working diligently to develop plans to maintain consistency of special education services. We are committed to doing our best to address your child’s needs remotely, but it is possible that not all typical school based instruction and special education supports can be feasibly implemented through a distance learning model during the present health crisis. Your patience and understanding is greatly appreciated as we work through the logistics of this challenging time together.

Out of district students’ learning will continue to be supported by their placements. Resources and instructional opportunities from those placements have been provided and families are encouraged to continue consistent communication with their team in those placements regarding continued instruction.

In district, the plan for continued learning is as follows:

General education and special education teachers will continue to provide accommodations in order to allow students to access their education program as outlined in their Section 504 Plans or IEPs.

Special education teachers have been working diligently to plan and provide for your student’s special education needs. Special class teachers will be providing classwork to their students in the same manner general education teachers will be. This can include packets that were sent home, access and instruction on educational websites, and/or instruction and assignments through electronic means (Google Classroom, Google Meets, etc.). Consultant Teachers and Resource Room Teachers will be providing support for students to access their classwork provided by the general education teachers. This can include consultation with the general education teacher(s), modifying work as appropriate, direct parent and/or student support / consultation via telephone or electronic means (email, Google Meets, etc.).

Related services (Counseling, Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Hearing Services, Vision Services, Physical Therapy) will also look different during this time when learning remotely than as outlined on the 504 Plan or IEP. Though the frequency and duration will not be as per the IEP (just as the school day is not the amount a school day would be), there will be consistent, continual learning and support opportunities. Related services’ support may be provided directly with the provider on the telephone, by virtual meeting, and/or using computer based instruction, written materials, assistive or other technology. This also may include consultation with parents and/or students as appropriate. Virtual meetings or assignments through Google Meets or Classroom may be used and may be in individual or group formats, as appropriate.

Each student in the Florida UFSD has been provided access to technology and a means to access it. Students and parents can check students’ school emails, parents’ emails, and the school district website for information as needed and appropriate. Special education teachers and related service providers will be in touch with parents and, if appropriate, students to discuss a schedule for service delivery through these means.

The District is committed to providing parents with a meaningful opportunity to communicate their concerns and participate in the on-going implementation and development of their children’s Section 504 plans or IEPs. The District understands that parents may have questions or concerns about their child’s special education program. The District encourages parents who have concerns about the special education supports being provided during this period of distance learning to contact Jeanne-Marie Pavlik. Additionally, Section 504 or CSE meetings can be scheduled, upon request, via telephone or video conference. If you would like to schedule a 504 Team or CSE meeting via telephone or video conference, please contact Jeanne-Marie Pavlik at the following email address jpavlik@floridaufsd.org to arrange for a program review.

If your son or daughter has been recommended for an evaluation which requires a face-to-face assessment or observation and that evaluation has not yet been completed, the evaluation will be delayed until school reopens. Evaluations and reevaluations that do not require face-to-face assessments or observations may take place while schools are closed, so long as a student’s parent or legal guardian consents to the re-evaluation or evaluation.

For the duration of school closure, annual reviews and re-evaluation meetings will be held in virtual meetings via Google Meets/ Hangout. Invitations will be emailed to you and will contain a link to join the meeting online (which allows video or just audio) or a phone number where you can call in.  Meetings that were cancelled will be rescheduled in this manner as well. Please contact Jeanne-Marie Pavlik at her email if you have concerns or questions as to connecting to a meeting in this manner.

Thank you so much for your flexibility, patience, and understanding during this time.

Jeanne-Marie Pavlik
Florida Union Free School District CSE Chairperson