April 9, 2020
Dear RSU 12 Families,
Hello. Families, you have been in our thoughts during this time of uncertainty, incredible changes, and challenges in creating new daily routines. Please know that staff are working to provide as much support as we can during these trying times.
Our staff, teachers, support staff and related services providers, miss your children. By now, you have heard from case managers as they check in to see what types of supports you need. We have three important goals during this period. They include:
- Create programming that provides the level of progress expected of other students in these circumstances;
- supporting students as they learn at home, and
- keeping students connected with us and maintaining some form of normalcy in a time of great stress.
During this pandemic we cannot replicate the services as outlined on your child’s IEP, however, we are seeking to provide services that honor the intent of the IEP in light of what all students are receiving through their regular education programs. In light of these dramatic changes to our schools, we wanted to make sure families had the same information.
Specially Designed Instruction: During this period of school closure due to the Coronavirus, RSU 12 is currently providing remote continuous learning packets for all students. Special educators will also be providing learning packets specific to skills attained as related to IEP goals and objectives to engage students in opportunities to practice and maintain skills. Services, as written on your child's IEP, will resume in full when RSU 12 schools open and resume typical school days for all students.
Related Services: Our occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapist and social workers are collaborating with teachers and providing families and students with services based on IEP goals.
IEP Annual Meetings: We will be holding annual IEP meetings during this distance learning period through Zoom or by phone. The case manager will be in touch with you to schedule your child’s annual meeting. We understand that some of you may not be able to participate in a meeting due to the challenges you may be facing in juggling family and work. If this is the case, knowing that your participation is such a vital part of the IEP process, we will wait to hold your child’s annual review until such a time that you are able to participate or when we return back to school. We have had the opportunity to hold quite a few annuals during this school closure and they have gone very well.
Re-evaluation Meetings: We have held re-evaluation meetings where we have been able to complete the requested evaluations prior to the school closure. However, for those where we have not been able to complete the evaluations, we will be completing these upon return to school. Many of the evaluation tools that we use require face to face administration. As such, they will be completed as quickly as possible once we can safely work with children in person. Any decisions regarding eligibility will be made once the team can convene and review evaluations.
My child is in referral: If your child has been referred for special education services and we have not had the opportunity to meet yet, special education staff will be reaching out to you to schedule a meeting. We will complete all components of the referral up through getting consent for evaluation. During the school closure, we are not able to conduct evaluations safely as they require in person, face to face time with students. Rest assured, as soon as we are able to safely conduct these evaluations, we will continue with the process to assess whether your child has a disability that may be impacting their ability to make progress in school.
My child attends a school outside of the district: For families of students who attend a local high school or grade school as a tuition student, we have been in communication with their schools to ascertain what level of services they are providing students. All local schools are providing some level of distance learning. If for some reason, you have not heard from special education staff of that school and are not being provided learning materials, please contact either Pat Block or Delia Dearnley. Our contact information is below. If your child attends a Special Purpose Private School, they are providing access to learning opportunities in a variety of ways. They have developed learning plans on how they will be providing services. Again, if you have not heard from the school, please contact either Pat Block or Delia Dearnley.
If we do not hear back from you, we will assume you are in agreement with the approach we are taking. If you are not in agreement, or if you simply need additional clarification of how this will work, all you need to do is call your child’s case manager, Pat or Dede, and we will do our best to address your concerns in a manner that is acceptable to you. We are trying to lessen the need for IEP team meetings because our personnel resources are stretched very thin. But if you believe a team meeting is critical, let us know and we will do our best to conduct a team meeting. But please forgive us if any necessary meetings take somewhat longer to schedule.
Our hope and expectation is that these opportunities will allow your child to benefit meaningfully from the programming. But we want to assure you that we will be addressing at the end of the closure process whether our children with disabilities have lost ground, and ways to remedy any such losses.
Please remember, the entire IEP team is here to support you and your child. Our goal is to keep all students connected with their learning and staff. Take care of yourselves first so that you can take care of your families. We appreciate your flexibility during this difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you need something that we are not providing through email or by phone.
Be safe and remember we are all on this journey together. Our best to you.
Dede and Pat
Delia Dearnley, Director of Special Services
Pat Block, Assistant Special Education Director