Education during the Covid-19 Crisis - Questions and Answers
How long will schools be closed? When will school end?
The Governor has said that schools must be closed until April 20, 2020. There is a serious possibility that schools will remain closed for the remainder of this school year.
The Governor has waived the 180 school day requirement. School (remote, interim learning) will end at the normal time, in mid-June. The exact day varies by district.
Schools are closed. How will my child learn?
Every school district is developing its own distance-learning plan for its students. These plans often include online learning, but may include written packets sent home. Many, but not all, districts are using Google Classroom as the underlying platform. Some are having regular virtual classrooms on a set schedule throughout the day.
If you are in Hartford, check out www.hartfordschools.org for helpful information about using Google classroom, guidance about Hartford’s Continuity of Learning Plan, and HPS’ technology survey.
My child does not have a computer/Chromebook/tablet. What can I do?
Many districts are providing Chromebooks to students. Two big grant programs are underway in Connecticut, so hopefully more Chromebooks will become available. Check your district’s website or call central office to see if Chromebooks are being distributed. Do not call teachers, as they probably cannot check their messages while schools are closed. If you have trouble getting through to someone, you could try emailing your child’s teacher or special education case manager.
In Hartford, Chromebooks are being distributed at meal distribution sites. See https://www.hartfordschools.org/understanding-coronavirus/
I do not have access to the internet. What can I do?
Several internet companies are offering special programs to ensure access. See https://ctlawhelp.org/en/coronavirus#utilities
You might also be able to use a Comcast Hotspot. All hotspots are open to the public for free. A Chrome browser is recommended when opening the link, instead of Internet Explorer. You can insert a location in the upper left hand corner and press the Go button. The map will adjust to the location and show nearby hot spots. Students and parents can input their address to find the closest hot spot. You can also try: https://www.xfinity.com/mobile/network/map
Phones using cellular data can act as Hotspots.
If you still can’t get internet service on your laptop, you could try using your smartphone as a hot spot to send internet to your laptop. Not all phones can do this, but many can. Go to Settings, then Personal Hotspot, and click on Allow Others to Join. You should see a password. Follow the prompts.
Hotspots are NOT secure. Think twice before giving out confidential information when using a Hotspot.
If I can’t get a device or internet access, what can I do to help my child learn?
You can request written learning packets from your school district. Most administration (principals’, superintendent’s office) are working remotely so they should be able to receive calls. Parents likely will not be able to reach teachers by phone. Try email instead.
For the short term, until you reach your district for regular written work, see learning packets on www.hartfordschools.org/understanding-coronovirus , https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/Information-For/School-Resources, and https://www.ctlibrarians.org/page/c19childfam
How can I supplement learning for my child, especially if I don’t have internet access?
- Practice any schoolwork that your child had before the school closure (flash cards, sight words, spelling, handwriting).
- Read with your child and ask questions about the text.
- Cook with your child and have your child half or double a recipe by doing the math. Have them read and follow the steps.
- Give your child writing prompts: ask them to write down the night’s menu or steps to recipe. Have them write a letter to a friend, teacher or relative. Ask them to write a story. You can give them a creative prompt: “If I was 20 feet tall, I would…”
- Eatch educational television shows: e.g., PBS kids.
My child receives special education. How will the school provide all of their services?
Your child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) remains in effect, but services and even hours will likely need to change. In person contact will not happen.
Every child should have an individualized interim learning plan. Schools should maintain good communication with parents about this plan and how it is delivered. Communication can be by phone, email, video, etc.
Education services will likely be provided by a mix of methods: phone calls, video conferences (e.g., Skype, FaceTime, What’s App), and online applications levelled to your child’s needs (some of which he may have already used in school).
Try to keep track of how much contact your child has with their special education teacher.
Does the school need to change my child’s IEP to provide distance learning?
No. The State Department of Education has stated that a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) meeting is not required if the only change is to reflect remote learning or a change of hours during the school closure. This is because all children, including special education and regular education students, have these changes.
If a PPT is necessary, the school may hold a PPT planning discussion by phone, video or email with the school to discuss how services will be provided. Schools may ask for permission for certain staff to be excused (not attend) the PPT. For example, if you are only discussing the delivery of math instruction, the school may ask that the speech and language therapist not have to attend.
IEPs can also be changed by agreement without a PPT by signing a paper amendment to the PPT. This form can be mailed to you or exchanged through email.
Will my child get related services (speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, BCBA, counseling)?
Your child should get related services though some distance model (phone, online, Skype, etc.). Again, delivery and hours will likely change due to school closures.
Try to keep track of how many hours of each related service that your child receives while schools are closed.
My child was in an out-of-district school when schools closed. Will my child get services?
Yes. State approved, out of district special education programs are all developing interim learning plans. If you have questions, contact your child’s special education case manager at the school and the district’s special education director.
Will the school make up lost special education or related service hours?
When schools reopen, a PPT should be convened to discuss whether “compensatory education hours” are required to make up for services. If you have kept track of the time your child spent working remotely with the special education teacher or related service staff, this information will be helpful at the PPT once schools reopen. Some or all missed service hours may be delivered during school hours, after school, during vacations/breaks, or over the summer.
What if my child doesn’t make progress toward goals and objectives during school closure?
When schools reopen, a PPT should be convened to discuss your child’s progress, or lack of progress or even regression in skills. The PPT should consider whether “compensatory education hours” are owed, how much, and how and when they will be delivered. These service hours may be delivered after school starts during school hours, after school, during vacations/breaks, or over the summer.
My child was due for a PPT. What will happen?
The State Department of Education has relaxed requirements for holding PPTs, annual review and triennial reviews. The school may try to hold a phone or video PPT, but if not, the school must hold one as soon as schools reopen. In most situations, PPTs will not be convened while schools are closed.
If your child was due for an annual review but the school does not hold one, your child’s last IEP will remain in effect until a PPT is held when school reopens.
My child was referred to special education before the closure and was supposed to be evaluated for eligibility. What will happen?
Under the law, testing should be completed in 45 school days. With schools closed, the State Department of Education has clearly stated that testing may be paused. These remote learning days will not count as “school days” toward the 45-day deadline. Most testing will resume when schools reopen. Schools may do some parts of the evaluation process for special education such as teacher or parent questionnaires, or record reviews during the school closure.
My child was pending expulsion when the school closed. What will happen?
While there has been no exact guidance from the state, depending on the severity of the incident, we expect that schools will proceed with expulsion proceedings when schools reopen. Students should still get some distance learning if they were referred to expulsion before the school closures or if they were expelled and were receiving alternative education services before the school closures.