Delivery of Special Education-Related Services During School Closures

Supporting students with in-home teletherapy
By: | Issue: June 2020 | Web Seminar Digest
June 1, 2020

As the need for social distancing is prompting extended school closures across the country, school districts are considering new ways to keep students connected and engaged in school activities. Because continuity is especially important for students who receive special education-related services, PresenceLearning hosted this webinar to support districts that are looking to deliver these services to students via in-home teletherapy.

Kate Eberle Walker, CEO, PresenceLearning

Schools are deeply engaged in ensuring students have equal access to learning. We have been working to transition districts to online delivery of special education services: Running teletherapy and tele-assessment training, and setting them up to use our proprietary teletherapy platform to continue serving students at home.

Kristin Martinez, Clinical Director, PresenceLearning

While the scope of the current move to online education and therapy is unprecedented, we have identified best practices to support schools, service providers, and families and students in implementing online special education services.

Here are four steps to get started.

1. Research platforms and features related to service delivery. Select a feature-rich platform designed to support therapeutic activities including screen sharing, multiple video feeds, the ability to upload materials and interactive tools. Investigate internet speed requirements and tech support. And be sure to choose a compliant platform that protects student privacy.

2. Develop service delivery guidance for special education staff. Understand ideal-circumstance best practices, but consider accommodations and modifications for current circumstances as well as compliance.

3. Start with what you know—your skills, experience and knowledge of each student. Consider any school-based accommodations in place for students to engage with computer-based learning. What might they need online?

4. Expect wonderful opportunities to work with students in home environments but prepare for hiccups.

Dr. Glendora Tremper, Coordinator, Special Education, Springs Charter Schools (Calif.)

Springs Charter Schools has six schools serving 9,600 students, including 1,400 special education students. We have 17 student centers and quite a few different programs. Before the pandemic, we were providing speech and occupational therapy, and psychoeducational and academic testing services online; we were 13% online. Now, all services are online.

Here are three steps we took to fully transition online.

1. Gather information. We used a multipronged approach—from consulting with our legal counsel to reviewing all information from federal and state governments. We connected with our agencies to determine readiness levels and reached out to see where we were as a district.

2. Create a comprehensive communication plan for district staff, providers, parents and students. One reason for our success: Communication. Our parents’ response has been mainly positive. We focus on supporting them and helping them support their students.

3. Support your staff’s emotional well-being. We hold virtual staff meetings, which also allow everyone to share how they’re doing.
We’re continuously communicating to share our learning and address challenges.

Don’t let yourself or your staff be overwhelmed. Be flexible. Remember: We need to support our staff so we all can be successful.

To watch this web seminar in its entirety, please visit DAmag.me/ws040920

For more information about live online special education-related services, please visit PresenceLearning.com