Special Education Return to Learn Fall 2020
Dear Families of Students Served by Special Education,
As we prepare for the coming school year we want you to know that staff are eager to connect with students and families to provide as much support as we can. As you likely have read in our district communications, all schools in the Gresham-Barlow School District will begin the school year offering a Comprehensive DistanceLearning Program or eGBSD online educational program. This means that special education services will also be provided online within the Comprehensive Distance Learning Program.
The safety of our students and staff is our highest priority. Because of this, based on Multnomah County’s current school health and safety metrics, the Gresham-Barlow District Leadership Team has determined that it's not safe for our students to attend schools for limited in-person instruction at this time (Special Education, Career-Technical Education, English Language Learners). We will make a determination on when in-person instruction can resume when metrics show that it is safe to do so.
The Comprehensive Distance Learning Program will be different in some ways than last spring, however, some parts will be similar. Here are the key points:
● IEP Teams will continue their commitment to partner with families to support implementing special education services within the online education program
● Case managers will be reaching out to every family at the beginning of the year to learn about needs and concerns and to discuss how their child’s IEP will be implemented
● Staff will continue to focus on meeting individual student needs using a variety of strategies like the ones listed below:
○ Case managers will be partnering with general education teachers to thoughtfully plan for accessibility needs within the online education program
○ Case managers will establish a weekly schedule that ensures students receive specially designed instruction
○ Most special education services will be provided synchronously (two-way communication);
○ T here are multiple ways to provide synchronous learning, including but not limited to:
■ Online video or audio conferencing, (i.e., teacher/staff provide large group or small group instruction)
■ Phone calls while using shared points of reference (i.e., the student and teacher are each working with the same learning materials as they engage in discussion around them via the phone), or
■ Collaborating on assignments in a cloud-based office suite while also engaged in a simultaneous two-way conversation.
○ IEP Teams will continue to offer a broader continuum of services, meaning that special education service schedules will mirror the continuum typically offered in schools. Examples could include:
■ Special education instruction co-planned with the case manager and provided mostly in the classroom by the teacher in the virtual classroom
■ Special education instruction co-taught by the classroom teacher and special education teacher in the virtual classroom
■ Special education instruction support provided in the virtual classroom while instruction is led by the classroom teacher
■ Special education instruction provided in a virtual small group setting
■ Additional specially designed instruction and/or related services support provided through telepractice tools and strategies or other synchronous delivery methods listed above
We know that Distance Learning is exceptionally challenging for students experiencing more complex disabilities. Our staff is deeply committed to providing as much support to students and families as possible within our safety parameters. In addition, one of the top priorities we are exploring is how to increase on-site in-person instruction for specialized programs in the Hybrid model. When our school district is allowed to offer on-site in-person instruction (referred to as a Hybrid model) more information will be provided about how special education services will be integrated into the Hybrid model.
We hope this overview provides some clarity about what the online educational program might look like for students experiencing disability. We can assure you that during this challenging time your child’s IEP Team stands ready to partner with you and work diligently to support your child in the online learning environment! Teaching staff will be returning to school late August-early September so if you have specific questions or concerns about your child please don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s case manager. We are committed to every child’s success and we are here to help!
Gresham-Barlow School District
Student Support Services Department