The beginning of September means schools are up and running in a wide variety of formats. In these unprecedented times, there is little guidance as to “best practices” and instead balancing risks and benefits are at the forefront of decision making. The focus may drift from ensuring proper access to special education services as schools look to ensure the health and safety of students and staff. The Illinois State Board of Education emphasizes the need for schools to provide services and accommodations related to special education in some format. For example, a child should continue to receive assistance from an aide, social work minutes, or extra time on tests if that is part of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
- Review the IEP and make a list of goals, services, accommodations, and modifications.
- Reach out and establish a means for regular communication with teachers and the special education coordinators early in the school year.
- Establish how and when IEP services, accommodations and modifications will be provided to the child remotely or in person. Parents can ask for a specific schedule of services.
- Ask teachers and special education coordinators for ideas or resources for ways parents can support their child’s learning at home.
- Set aside time and a specific space, as private as possible, to complete e-learning activities in the home.
- Hold a family meeting before activities begin to review the school itinerary for the day and decide what activities the child can do individually and what activities they will need more support for.
- Parents are not expected to be teachers and should continue to rely on the schoolteachers to support their children, even if it is remotely.
- If services are not being provided, reach out for help. The resources listed below include information on educational rights and resources for legal advocacy.
Special Education and Remote Learning Resources
For children and families experiencing service disruptions during the pandemic, Autism Speaks provides resources for both professionals and families in the autism community.