Parents all over the country are currently trying to navigate the unique challenges associated with distance learning. For many parents, attempting to school their children at home is uncharted territory, and the prospect raises countless questions. However, the challenges are even greater and the questions more numerous for those whose children have special needs and IEPs.
Because this is an unprecedented and ever-evolving situation, there are no clear and direct answers. However, here are a few of the most common questions and some general information to consider:
Will my child still receive services?
In April 2020, the majority of California schools are moving to mandatory distance learning. The general opinion, based on statements from the U.S. Department of Education and the California Department of Education (CDE), is that students with special needs should start receiving educational services at the same time as all other students.
As the CDE points out, students with special needs have the same right to an education as general education students. Naturally, the services provided may have to be individually tailored to meet each student’s particular needs, but the school district is responsible for coming up with a plan to provide special education services “to the greatest extent possible” during this crisis situation.
Will the school district implement the existing IEP?
Ideally, school districts will make every effort possible to implement your child’s existing IEP. However, the fact of the matter is that it will be likely to difficult to implement it perfectly. The most important issue to focus on is how to meet your child’s educational needs during this tumultuous time in our nation, regardless of whether the district is able to carry through on every detail of the IEP.
Would it be better to change the IEP?
It might be tempting to completely revamp the existing IEP to make it more effectively fit the current situation. Be aware, though, that any modifications made right now will likely remain in effect when schools reopen and students return to the regular classroom setting. This may or may not be ideal.
What if distance learning simply doesn’t work for my child?
For many students with special needs, in-person interaction is a critical educational component. This means that in some cases, distance learning is simply not feasible. A child may not be able to access online curriculum, for example.
In this situation, make sure to document each time you attempt to use the tools the district provides, and do not hesitate to reach out to the district to request additional resources if the current ones are not working. If your child fails to progress educationally, he or she may be entitled to compensatory services such as tutoring. However, this is decided on a case-by-case basis.
How can I best help with my child’s education right now?
Here are some ideas for making the most of the situation:
• Be creative. You may want to explore options for making your child’s IEP even more uniquely tailored to him or her. You may also want to make a list of certain goals you would like your child to accomplish this spring, then share that list with your child’s teacher/provider.
• Reach out to the team. Talk with your child’s teacher, administrator, behavior specialist and/or other IEP team members. They will likely have ideas for how you can help contribute and support in specific ways.
• Request the tools you need. Make sure you receive the curriculum your child will be using, along with any necessary technology (iPad, communication apps, communication devices, etc.) that your child may require.
To learn more, watch our recent video or view our slideshow. We care, and we are here to help.