Reopening Schools: Special Education FAQs

BH-BL Special Services Department

Reopening of Schools Frequently Asked Questions & Parent Resources

Q. Will my child’s  IEP or 504 plans and student services be met?

The district will provide, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability, the special education and related services, identified in the student’s IEP. Due to the health and safety requirements that must be in place, the district may not be able to provide all services in the same mode and/or manner they are typically provided.  Methods of delivery of services will be determined based on whether the student is in an in-person, hybrid or fully remote setting. Students’ service provider(s), including their special education case manager and CSE Chairperson, if appropriate, will consult with parents regarding the specific methods of service delivery for their child.

Q. My child is in an elementary special class but integrates into a regular classroom for certain activities. Will this still be able to happen now that classes are arranged in pods? 

Special education teachers will work with general education teachers to structure integration opportunities to the best of their abilities while also following health and safety guidelines. Students with special needs and support staff pushing into general education classrooms are required to follow all social distancing and face covering protocols when in other settings within the school, including in homeroom classrooms.

Q. My child receives special class reading and resource room services as part of her IEP. Will she still be able to get that now that there are social distancing measures in place?

Yes. Students will still be provided with their special education services, including those that require a smaller instructional setting.  Protocols for social distancing and mask wearing will remain in effect, as appropriate.  Special services providers will also utilize clear dividers in small group settings to assist with the maintenance of proper distancing and extra layers of protection when needed.

Q. What will happen if my child is unable to wear a mask all day in school?

All students and staff are required to wear face coverings when a minimum of 6 feet social distancing cannot be maintained, unless they have a physician’s note that states they cannot wear them due to medical reasons. Students will be provided with face covering breaks in situations where social distancing can be maintained.  School staff will work with all students to teach them the reason behind the need to wear masks, how to appropriately put the mask on and take it off. Students will be supported and encouraged as they get used to the wearing of masks.  Parents should be working with their child to assist them in building up mask wearing tolerance if this hasn’t been done already.  Here are some resources to assist parents with this process.  In situations where masks are not able to be maintained for required periods of time and it is determined that it is not the result of intentional non-compliance, then accommodations will be made for the student in their classroom environment, which could include the use of clear physical barriers around the student’s desk.  Below are links to resources to assist you with helping your child to wear a mask. Visit this website for information about Helping Your Child Wear a Mask-Younger Children Wearing a Mask to School-Visual Aid

Q. I am concerned that my child will have a difficult time with all the changes at school. What can I do to prepare him/her? 

There’s no doubt about it, the school environment will look very different from what your child is used to.  The more you can prepare your child for what to expect, the better.  Children can sense when the trusted adults in their lives are anxious or worried about something.  Having calm and reassuring conversations with your child about what to expect when returning to school will help put them at ease.  Giving specific examples of the changes they will see when going back to school will assist in preparing them.  Below are helpful social stories on understanding Coronavirus, what is expected with social distancing and how riding the bus will be different from what they are used to.

Online Resources: Coronavirus Social StorySocial Distancing Social Story  |  Riding the Bus May Be Different-Social Story

Q. My child goes to the nurse every day for medication. Will students who have COVID symptoms be in the nurse’s office at the same time? 

Protocols will be in place for parental screening and student temperature readings before students enter the school building, as well as a plan to isolate any students or staff who may be experiencing COVID like symptoms in a location separate from the nurse’s office. The nurse’s office will be maintained for students who have to make routine visits to the nurses office to have medication administered, be provided general first aid assistance, etc. Think of when you take your child to the pediatrician–there’s often a “well room” and “sick room.” Each school will maintain a similar set up for those requiring medical attention.

Q. If my child participates in the virtual school, can I bring him into school for his related services?  

Yes, parents may transport children to their home school for their related services.  Those students would need to follow the same health and safety protocols as other students entering the building (completing the screening tool, temperature check, mask wearing, etc.)

Q. Will my daughter have the special education providers in the remote school that she had when school was in person? 

Not necessarily, students may have different teachers, related service providers, and support staff in the remote school than they would have had through the in-person or hybrid  model.

Q. My child has a 1:1 teaching assistant. Can my child’s teaching assistant come to our home to support him/her with their remote classes? 

Teaching Assistants and other faculty/staff members are not permitted to go to a student’s home to deliver supports and services.   Your child will be provided additional support by a teaching assistant as necessary through a remote format, including Google Meetings, emails and phone calls to support you and your child with their remote learning program.

Q. What do I do if my child is struggling with the remote school?

It will be important to be in regular communication with your child’s teacher(s) and related service providers (if applicable) if your child is struggling with remote school. These individuals will work with you to provide suggestions, strategies and supports to assist your child with getting back on track. As with in person instruction, if you feel that the Committee on Special Education (CSE) should convene in order to review your child’s progress as it relates to their specific IEP goals and services, a meeting can be scheduled. To do so, you would communicate with your child’s special education case manager, oftentimes this is their special education teacher or related service provider. Also, school psychologists/sub-cse chairs are another resource for you to contact to discuss your child and the potential needs for a CSE meeting. Check out these helpful parent resources for supporting your child during remote instruction:

Online Resources: Remote Learning Tips for Parents using Google Classroom | 5 Things Parents Can Do To Support Online Learning | Distance Learning: 8 Tips to Help Your Child Learn at Home | Tips will help parents prepare for a successful school year, even if it is virtual

Q. My child is in a self-contained program, will he attend school everyday or follow a hybrid model?

All students, K-12, who are recommended to attend one of our self-contained special programs
and are registered by their parents to attend in-person school, will attend school 5 days per week.

Q. I would like to homeschool my child, can they still receive IEP services?

Typically, the annual deadline to request special education services for a child who is homeschooled by their parents, is June 1st. Due to the unique nature of this school year, the district will honor parents’ requests to convene the CSE and develop an Individualized Education Services Plan (IESP).  If a child who is homeschooled is recommended for formal services, it will be the responsibility of the parent to make arrangements to bring their child into school to receive those services.  Those students would need to follow the same health and safety protocols as other students entering the building (completing the screening tool, temperature check, mask wearing, etc.) Please note, all students enrolled in school and/or those who are brought into school to receive services are required to be up to date on mandated vaccinations. The exception to the June 1st deadline for notifying the district of your request for special education services is in effect for this school year only.

Q. How will my child’s progress be reported to me when participating in the virtual school?

Your child’s teacher will issue a report card for your child just as they do for  in-person school. If your child receives special education services, then his/her special education teacher and related service providers will also provide you with IEP goal progress reports following the reporting schedule as indicated on their IEP, which typically follows the same dates as when report cards are issued. If you ever have questions about your child’s progress between the issuance of formal report cards and/or IEP goal progress reports, feel free to reach out directly to his/her teachers and service providers.

Q. Will CSE meetings continue to be held in a virtual format for this school year? 

Yes. Due to continued social distancing requirements and limitations regarding visitors to schools, all CSE meetings will continue to be scheduled as Google Meetings. Parents may participate using the audio and video functions on their computers or cell phones or they may call into the meeting and participate via teleconference.  If anyone requires assistance with this process, please contact your child’s CSE Chairperson listed on the CSE meeting invitation.

Who to Contact for Further Information

If you have additional questions, between now and the start of the school year or throughout the school year,  please use the guide below on who to contact.

Who to contact for questions regarding:

  • Your child’s academic program and/or progress: contact your child’s classroom teacher and special education teacher
  • Your child’s related services, including speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work counseling services: contact the appropriate service provider
  • Your child’s special education services, CSE meetings, formal evaluations: contact the school psychologist at your child’s school
  • Your 3-5 year old preschooler’s special services: contact Kathy Burns, CPSE Chairperson at kburns@bhbl.org

If after consultation with the appropriate individuals listed above, you require further information or assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Darcy Passarelli, Assistant Director of Special Services at dpassarelli@bhbl.org or Sharon McTygue, Director of Special Services at smctygue@bhbl.org