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  • Law Office of Richard J Murphy, PLC

How to prepare for a possible return to remote learning

With COVID-19 cases increasing across Arizona, some school districts have already returned to remote learning for short periods of time. It is possible that your child’s school may decide to return to online instruction in response to an outbreak or uptick in cases.

Here are three tips so you can be better prepared if that happens for a week, a month or more.

1. Get some baseline data: If your school stops in-person instruction it is important to know what level your child is at if your school closes. This way you can have a good sense of what they could and could not do when they went to online instruction. With this information you can compare how your child was doing with in-person instruction versus online instruction and to see if any services need to be made up or changed.

You can try to get that information from your child’s teachers. The school is required to report to you on IEP goals at least every quarter. You should have received a report of progress around the beginning of October.

But many goals require the school to collect data weekly or even daily. So it is a good idea to request an update from your teacher on a weekly basis (or at least every two weeks). That way if schools go to online instruction you should have a good idea of where they are on their goals and skills.

2. Prepare to collect data yourself to share with the school: If your student is back at home you should try to collect some data on what he or she can do related to the IEP goals and his or her needs.

  • You could try to video record your child doing or attempting a task from their IEP goals.

  • You can ask the school to provide you with copies of the forms they used to track the goals.

  • Even keeping track of their progress in a notebook or on the computer is good. Whatever method you use, it is important that you document how your child is doing.

For more information, check out my previous post on this issue.

3. Consider parent counseling and training: Make sure you understand the online platform the school is using so you can support your child. Under the IDEA, schools may be required to provide you with “parent counseling and training” to help get skills that will help support the implementation of your child’s IEP. So if you have questions about the best way to help your child in the online setting, you could ask for training on the programs the school is using. Parent counseling and training is a related service on the IEP. So it would need to be added to the IEP but that can be done without a meeting if the team and you agree in writing.

Remember that the IEP still needs to be implemented. With the school closures from March to May 2020, the US and Arizona Departments of Education made it clear that the IDEA still applied. If there is a short term closure by a few schools or something more widespread or longer, it is very likely the IDEA protections will remain in effect. So keep track of any missed services, lack of progress or regression in online instruction.

If there are significant issues, you can request a change to the IEP if your child’s needs have changed. Even if it is a short amount of time, it is still good to keep in touch with the school so that any transition to online instruction and back to in-person instruction is as smooth as possible.

If you have specific concerns for a special education attorney, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Richard J. Murphy, PLC for a free legal consultation. This is a confusing time for everyone including educators, students with disabilities and their families. The Law Office of Richard J. Murphy, PLC is ready to help students with disabilities and their families.

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