COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

Families are thinking about what that return to school will look like in the fall.  Michigan Alliance for Families has gathered these parent, community, and student resources.

Special Education and Covid-19: First Steps

Special Education Guidance from the State and Federal Government

Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order addresses special education on pages 12 and 13.

Michigan Department of Education resources about the impact of the closure on special education/early intervention programs and services:

Coronavirus specific resources from the US Department of Education:

What plans have the schools made?

CONTINUITY OF LEARNING PLAN – Each district has developed a continuity of learning plan. This explains how the district will provide instruction for all students (including those with IEPs). This could be paper packet pickup, phone calls, online classes, or a combination of methods.

CONTINGENCY LEARNING PLAN – For each student with an IEP, the state is encouraging IEP teams to create a contingency learning plan to explain the special education and related services the district is able to provide during the pandemic. This plan is individualized, based on the current IEP, and makes sure the student can access the education now being offered by their district. Districts are encouraged to develop the plan with input from parents because parents are part of the IEP Team. 

More information can be found at: Guidance for Compliance With the IDEA and the MARSE During the COVID-19 Pandemic (PDF)

What services will my child receive during closure?

This depends on what services your child normally receives. Students with an IEP are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Some services can be provided through technology. Others that require face to face delivery cannot happen at this time.

The accommodations and modifications your child needs during distance learning might not be the same as what they needed in the classroom.

There may be additional assistive technology needs that have to be considered.  Districts must consider the student’s technology needs in order to provide access to regular and special education services. If additional technology or internet service is needed for a student to receive FAPE, it must be provided by the school, at no charge.

When school resumes, each IEP team will review the provision of FAPE during the period of distance learning,  and determine whether compensatory services are warranted in any service area, including instruction and individual therapies.

Will we still have IEP meetings?

IEP teams can meet virtually (phone or video conference). Facilitation and mediation are available from Special Education Mediation Services via the virtual method your district is using. If parents are not able to meet during this time, the meeting can be delayed. Required IEP team members who are unable to attend can be excused with the parent’s consent.

The annual IEP will be written for the usual school settings. The IEP team can also create a contingency learning plan to detail the programs and services the district will provide during times when the school building is closed.

When school resumes, IEP teams will meet and determine if compensatory education needs to be provided.

Participating in a Virtual IEP Meeting

What should I be keeping track of?

Make a papertrail. Keep track of events and conversations at the time they occur. You will be better prepared for conversations about summer services, extended school year, and compensatory education.  Our document Special Education and Distance Learning has suggestions on what to log.

Distance Learning: Monitoring Your Child’s Progress At Home

What about Early On® services?

Early On programs will operate under continuity of learning plans developed by each ISD/RESA.

What about youth in transition programs?

Young adult programming will operate under continuity of learning plans developed by each district or ISD/RESA.

What if my child is in the special education evaluation process?

Some types of evaluations can be completed virtually. If there are evaluations that need to be done in person, the timeline can be extended. For students who are not yet eligible for special education services, a contingency learning plan can be developed based on the suspected disability.

Will food service be provided?

Districts can provide 2 free meals per day to all children up to age 18 and students ages 18-26 with an active IEP. Some schools are offering pick-up meals, some are sending food out on bus routes, some are using their summertime food service locations. Check your school’s website to find out what’s available. Families of students who received free/reduced lunch at school will receive additional food assistance via an Electronic Benefits Transaction (EBT) card.

Families in need of additional resources in their community can connect with Michigan 2-1-1, a one-stop connection to local agencies and resources.

What about internet access?

With everyone staying home, families need internet services for work and school. Several service providers are offering faster speed and free/reduced-cost service. If you have a regional internet provider in your area that’s not listed, call and ask if they are offering any help for families/students to access the internet.

Districts must consider the student’s technology needs in order to provide access to regular and special education services. If additional technology or internet service is needed for a student to receive FAPE, it must be provided by the school, at no charge.

How can I help my child understand what is going on?

This is nothing any of us have been through before. A scary new disease, changes to everyday routine – it’s a lot for all of us to digest. 

  • Speak calmly, be reassuring, and provide information geared to your child’s age and understanding level.
  • Focus on helping your child feel safe. Be honest, but keep news stories in context.
  • Positively frame the situation: by working together we can keep more people from getting sick, so school and other busy places are closed for now. 
  • Let them know it’s normal to feel stressed out sometimes.
  • Keep the conversation going, keep checking in.

Our staff have found these resources helpful

What can I do with my child at home?

Keeping a routine can provide comfort and stability for children. A printed schedule will help organize your day. A monthly calendar can keep this break from school in perspective (ie it’s not forever). 

Free online learning resources:

  • Bookshare Bookshare is an ebook library that makes reading easier for people with barriers such as dyslexia, blindness, and physical disabilities.
  • Khan Academy offers free exercises, quizzes, and tests so students can practice and master skills, as well as instructional videos to help students learn. 
  • Michigan Virtual free online courses to supplement student learning.
  • PBS Learn at Home educational programming on TV with corresponding online resources.
  • Scholastic has launched a free “Learn at Home” website that has daily courses for students during this school shutdown.

Disability specific resources:

Less formal but still good ideas to keep busy:

All of our flyers are PDFs, which can be viewed with a free download from Adobe.

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