4 important transition topics for students graduating this year

COVID-19 pandemic has impacted transition services
By: | March 12, 2021
(AdobeStock/Ermolaev Alexandr)(AdobeStock/Ermolaev Alexandr)

The IDEA requires that IEPs for older students include a plan for a coordinated set of services designed to move special education students successfully from school to post-school settings.

As with other aspects of procedural compliance, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted what areas some of these transition services might address.

Lisa Arbogast, a school attorney with Kirton McConkie PLLC in Salt Lake City, shared some of the things that IEP teams may want to focus on from now until the end of the school year with students who are going to graduate at the end of the year. See here recommended topics below:

1. Interaction with others.

Concentrate on helping students learn COVID-19 safety, Arbogast said.

Instill in them the need to make sure they’re being COVID-safe for themselves and others. Teach them how to make sure they’re wearing masks appropriately and why they need to wear masks in the first place.

Show the students ways to gauge an appropriate distance to maintain between themselves and others. Help them learn COVID-safe activities that they can do with peers.

“Help students continue to be social in a COVID-safe manner,” Arbogast said. “As the weather starts to get nicer, meet for group activities outside to practice how to be COVID-safe.”

2. Self-advocacy and self-help.

“I think self-advocacy and self-help skills are some of the things that are most important, especially in this new landscape,” Arbogast said.

Help students who will be leaving high school learn how to self-monitor any COVID-19 symptoms, in case they need to tell someone or go get tested to see if they’re positive. Should they need to get tested, teach them how to do that, she said.

Also, teach the students how to access the vaccines when they become available. Show them how to access information on how to get the vaccine and help them understand the benefits of the vaccines and other health care. “That part of self-care is incredibly important to moving into an independent lifestyle,” Arbogast said.

3. Civics.

Students need to know how to filter reliable information from propaganda, Arbogast said. “No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, it’s important to try to figure out truth, and to know where to get valid, reliable information so you can make good decisions for yourself,” she said.

Show students how to register to vote, know where their polling place is, and figure out how to get there via travel training.

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“This has been a huge time for people to really get reconnected with the importance of civics education and how that really applies to adult life,” Arbogast said.

4. Working with post-high school agencies.

Districts are assigned a leadership position in contacting agencies expected to provide services to a student once she exits the school system. They are to act as a liaison between the parents and the other agencies while the student is enrolled in school. See Letter to Bereuter, 20 IDELR 536 (OSERS 1993).

Start thinking through how to help the student make connections with post-high school agencies, Arbogast said. “They may need to be more mindful of scheduling meetings with those agencies, to be sure whether they’re attending in person at the locations or if they’re still doing virtual meetings,” she said.

Start discussing with those agencies and with the student what options are available post-high school, after they leave the educational system during COVID-19, as that’s going to be different in every jurisdiction, she said.

Florence Simmons covers Section 504, paraprofessionals, and transportation for LRP Publications.