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Special Education Remote Instruction Requirements & FAQ

March 31, 2020

On March 26, 2020 the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
issued new guidance on the requirement to provide special education instruction during the
COVID-19 closure found here Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in
Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities.

Q: What does remote special education look like and how does it differ from enrichment?
DESE has described special education services as “systematic special education resources,
supports and services to promote continuity of learning and to provide more direct services in
whole class, small group or individually.” (see supplemental fact sheet linked above). Direct
services may include telephonic instruction and/or consultation, virtual instruction such as virtual
class time with Google Meets, video instruction (including use of youtube videos). Instruction
must include any information to the parent to support access.

Much of the first prong of support and resources have been identified and have begun to be
provided to families as part of teachers initial efforts to provide enrichment. The district is now
charged to identify how more direct individualized services can be provided and to implement
this higher level of service. What this service looks like will vary widely depending on student
needs and teacher choice to support student learning and progress toward skill attainment,
based upon the individual student’s IEP.

While USDE and DESE recognize that remote instruction will look different from instruction that
is provided within the school setting the recommendations are to move toward providing
services similar to those identified in the students IEP as we develop and improve systems.

Q: What are the special education professionals responsibilities immediately and what
next steps are needed?
Beginning Monday March 30th special education providers in the Peabody Public School
District are asked to identify current resources, services, accommodations and modifications
that are in implementation and communicate Notice to the families of the students that are
served to identify what goals and objectives these resources and services address. Think about
what you are providing now and describe how that resource or service is supporting student skill
development related to their IEP goals. Consider what the student will need to know and be
able to do in relation to the students goals and objectives and describe what activities and
resources will be provided to support in achieving these goals and objectives.

Example of Notice of Remote Special Education:

SAMPLE LANGUAGE FOR NOTICE OF SUPPORTS AND RESOURCES
Peabody Public Schools is recommending the following supports and resources to support
Johnny’s ability to progress toward achieving his reading goal: To address goal 1 the district is
making access to Lexia Reading platform available. Insert directions for access. Johnny is
recommended to access the Lexia program for a minimum of 30 minutes per day and is
recommended to read for 20 minutes and write about his reading for an additional 20 minutes. I
will be available for questions and support during the hours of 9AM – 10AM and 1PM-2PM. If
you would like Johnny to participate in this remote special education learning opportunity please
forward your agreement by responding to this email to confirm that Johnny will participate in
these activities. If you are declining this service, please indicate that you are not interested at
this time. If you should reconsider, please email me at any time to begin this activity.

SAMPLE LANGUAGE FOR NOTICE OF SERVICE
Peabody Public Schools is recommending the following remote service to support Johnny’s
ability to progress toward achieving his reading goal: To address goal 1 we will meet with up to 3
additional students on-line for initial practice. We will connect through Google Meets. An
invitation will be forwarded to Johnny’s google calendar for our scheduled meeting time
Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1:00. On Monday and Wednesday Johnny should read for 20
minutes and write about his reading for an additional 20 minutes. If you would like Johnny to
participate in this remote special education learning opportunity please forward your agreement
by responding to this email to confirm that Johnny will participate in scheduled meetings. If you
are declining this service, please indicate that you are not interested at this time. If you should
reconsider, please email me at any time to begin this activity.
Copies of this notice of service should be maintained to be added to the students special
education record.

Q: When providing group remote instruction what are my responsibilities to protect
student privacy?
During the current crisis waivers to FERPA and HIPAA have been waived. However, a notice of
limits of privacy must be provided. The following language is recommended to be included with
each offer of supports, resources and/or services:

PRIVACY NOTICE AND PROHIBITION OF RECORDING
Privacy Notice: Please note that Google Hangouts is a forum that allows other students to
participate to provide for peer sharing and discourse, this activity may be accessible to other
individuals that have access to the students google calendar or may be in the vicinity of the
device being used by student participants. Student privacy during participation in the Google
Hangout activity cannot be guaranteed. As a reminder, it is against the law to record or
photograph any individual without their permission. Recording of teachers or students during
any remote session is expressly prohibited.

Q: What documentation is required?
No changes to the IEP, nor any expectation of stay put is required to begin implementation of
remote instruction. However, a copy of the notice of the offer to provide supports or services is
required. In addition, you should continue to keep service logs and records of communication
as you would for any services provided during a regular school session. Tracking progress is
unlikely to be similar to the data that can be collected through direct observation, but may reflect
data collected through online platform access, parent report, or direct observation that may be
available during remote instruction opportunities.

Q: Are related service providers such as School Adjustment Counselors, Physical
Therapists, Speech Therapists, Occupational therapists required to provide special
education services?
As with special education instruction, related service providers are required to provide services
to students with disabilities in the manner described above for special education teachers,
based upon the needs of the student and based upon the professional judgement of the
provider. The provision of services should be within limitations, scope and practice of your
particular governing therapeutic board.

Q: How will progress reports be provided to families during the closure?
Beginning Monday March 30th, liaisons should notify families by email that hard copies of
progress reports will be made available when school reopens. However, if individuals would like
a copy of the progress report immediately that request can be made by email and the liaison will
forward a copy of the PDF copy of the students progress report.

Q: Is video instruction required?
No, video instruction is not required, but remains an option based upon individual choice and
creativity in implementing lessons that allow students to progress in the development of key
skills identified in the IEP.

Q: Can students without disabilities be included in group instruction, such as a whole
group inclusive class or preschool class?
Yes, multiple individuals with and without disabilities can be included in instructional activities
with a variety of means based upon teacher preference and with prior notice of limitations to
privacy

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