DPS COVID-19 Update 4/2: Special Education

Letter to Parents/Guardians of Students with Special Needs

Danvers Public Schools

 

April 2, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians;

 

During this exceptional time, Special Education providers in the Danvers Public Schools are actively engaged in supporting remote learning opportunities for students as we strive to flatten the curve of COVID-19.  Our top priorities are to keep students and their families connected to us, support students as they learn at home as well as provide and modify these remote learning opportunities to the best of our ability and try to maintain aspects of normalcy in a time of enormous stress.

As you know, COVID-19 is the obstacle to providing service and instruction that we normally would.  During this pandemic, the regular school day cannot be replicated. We cannot provide all expectations of an Individual Education Plan (IEP) nor can we evaluate students as we would if school were open.  Despite severe constraints on our interactions with students we are working hard to provide opportunities that honor the intent of each student’s IEP. This work is different from specially designed instruction but is aligned to the IEP.  We are regularly coordinating, collaborating and communicating with general educators, administrators, support staff and consultants.  

Our Special Education providers, inclusive of related services providers, are planning activities and lessons that focus on maintenance, engagement and Social Emotional Learning.  We will hold some annual reviews via video or teleconferencing with parent/guardian permission and if the health, safety of our students, parents/guardians, staff and community permits.

Our approach during this unavoidable shift to remote learning opportunities is consistent with the guidance issued by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and the U.S. Department of Education.  Of note, the Office of Special Education Services of the U.S. Department of Education maintains that the IDEA was not designed to deliver education during a pandemic and has advised that we focus on the safety, health and welfare of students and staff in our community first and foremost; provide FAPE by delivering services the best we can and to as many students as is reasonable under the constraints we face; and demonstrate a good faith effort to provide services.  

We care deeply about our students and community.  Danvers Public Schools Special Education staff as well as all related service providers meet regularly as groups and with general educators to coordinate our ongoing efforts to support our students.  We will continue to do so. Please, please take care of yourself and your loved ones. Follow the guidance by the CDC. Together we can do this.

Most sincerely,

 

Dr. Mary Tatem

Director of Student Services