Whether the plan is a full in-person model, blended learning model, or full remote model, there will inevitably be unforeseen circumstances as school entities implement their 2020-2021 reopening plans. School Teams will need to regularly review and revise safety protocols and programming as changing governmental guidance and directives are issued.
Many school districts changed their re-opening plans in response to the August 10, 2020 update from PDE with guidelines for determining instructional models based on local COVID-19 data. With schools re-opening using full in-person models, blended learning models, or full remote learning models, PDE has highlighted the need to reconvene IEP Teams to determine how these supports and services will be provided.
On September 2, PDE revised its FAQ guidance regarding the provision of related services to special education students. As always, during this pandemic, schools must provide all special education supports and services to the extent possible, including related services.
The FAQ states that if the Team determines 1:1 instructional support is necessary for a student to access virtual instruction, then the service must be provided in the home while ensuring “necessary safety and hygiene protocols are in place.” Further, if any supports and services are not able to be provided during periods of virtual instruction, this should be considered as part of the Compensatory Services determination. Similar information is provided in the FAQ regarding transportation services when it is included in the IEP as a related service.
Bottom Line for Schools
Schools must move forward to provide education to all students in the best manner possible while balancing educational and instructional variables as well as parental concerns. In addition, schools must discuss and consider the implications for the health and safety of students and staff if related services are to be provided in the home. Close communication and collaboration with parents and staff is needed.
If you have a question, please contact your legal counsel or one of the Special Education attorneys at KingSpry.
School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.