March 18 update student support

3/18 update regarding student support services
Douglas Families/Guardians,
Today, I participated in the second teleconference provided by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) for Special Education administrators. During this session, administrators across the State were provided with updated information regarding student support, at this time of school closure, due to COVID-19. Below, I have outlined updated details for families and guardians surrounding special education, currently.
Students and Services
When a school district is closed during an ongoing public health emergency and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, during the period of closure, the school district is not required to provide services to students with disabilities during that same period of time. As I stated in my initial letter, this does not mean that the special education liaisons and staff will not informally assist students during this time.
The liaisons and I will continue to communicate with parents and guardians during and after this school closure, regarding your child’s IEP services. This ongoing communication will help educators, administrators, and parents/guardians understand any impact that the closure may have had on the students’ access to a free appropriate public education. After this closure, the Special Education teams will review how the closure may have impacted students and will convene individual IEP team meetings, as necessary, in order to make an individualized determination as to whether additional services are needed for individual students.
Special Education Timelines
It continues to be acknowledged by the DESE that special education testing can not occur if school is not in session. However, on a federal level, timelines have not been halted. The State continues to exercise their ability to adjust timelines, but there has been no progress to date.
Expired IEP
If a student has an IEP that expires during our time out of school, the IEP will go into "Stay Put". The liaisons will review their caseload lists and contact any parents/guardians that have a child whose IEP will expire during the three week period.
Cancelled Annual and Reconvene Meetings
All Annual and Reconvene Meetings have been postponed until our return to school.
Virtual Meetings
I am moving forward with holding Virtual Meetings for Initial and Reevaluation meetings via ZOOM. This will begin on Thursday (3/19/2020). Meetings will be held between 9:00AM-12:00PM. We are not following the meeting schedule as previously created. I will be calling parents tomorrow morning to create a new schedule.
Progress Reports
I have provided the HS with an extension on the quarterly IEP progress reports. Due to the state-mandated school closure, the District will report progress on your child through March 13, 2020. Upon return to school, your child will be informally assessed to determine his/her status in a specific goal area.
The DESE has acknowledge that the timeline is fast approaching for MCAS-ALT. At this time, they are still working on adjusting this.
Educational Resources
The DESE will be providing on-line educational resources for students within the next 24 hours. They will be posted on the DESE website.
Special Education Parent Advisory Council meetings will not occur during the school closing.
Our frequent communication will be the conduit to assist our students during this extraordinary time. Please continue to reach out to the special education staff and me, so we can continue to support you and your child.
All the best,
Nealy Urquhart
Assistant Superintendent of Student Support Services

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