Special Education Update: March 17, 2020

Dr. Amy Perrault, Assistant Superintendent and Special Education Director, sent the following email to parents/guardians of students receiving special education services on Tuesday, March 17, 2020:

March 17, 2020

Dear Parent/Guardian/Caregiver,

As you are aware, the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical High School is closed through April 6, 2020 in response to concerns given the unprecedented situation created by the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Thank you for your patience as we work through the logistics of this ever-evolving situation surrounding the COVID-19. I did want to reach out to families whose children receive special education services and provide some updates during these extraordinary times.

Decisions regarding special education services are based on, and deeply rooted in current guidelines issued by the Office of Special Education Programming. OSEP Guidance was issued in March 2020 in conjunction with guidance from the U.S. Department of Education and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. This information currently states that since we will not be providing full educational services to the general student population, we are not required to provide services to students with disabilities during this time.

Our staff would like to extend support and mirror services to the greatest extent possible as vested partners in your child's education. Although we are not in session for the next three weeks, we do recognize the value for students to maintain their knowledge base and remain engaged in the educational process. With that in mind, the following information and district guidelines are now in effect:

New Referrals/Initial Eligibility:

Minuteman, along with other schools in the Commonwealth, will freeze evaluation, referral, and plan distribution timelines for all students in a referral cycle during school closure. This means that as soon as schools open again, the timelines will commence as is required by state and federal regulations.

Annual Reviews/Evaluations in Process:

Minuteman, along with other schools in the Commonwealth, will freeze evaluation, referral, annual review, and plan distribution timelines for all students on IEPs and 504s during school closure. This means that as soon as schools open again, the timelines will commence as is required by state and federal regulations. Although the timelines for all meetings will freeze, Minuteman is exploring holding annual review meetings virtually using our Skype for Business platform.  You may be contacted by your team chair to hold a virtual annual review meeting.

Academic Support:

While not mandatory during this closure, our special education staff will be extending their support to your child during this time of distance learning via email, Aspen, Office 365 including Skype for Business and the Remind application.  Our staff wishes to promote student success and requests that if your child or student does struggle to understand an enrichment concept or activity, that an email is sent letting the Academic Support teacher know additional support is requested. Additionally, teachers may be reaching out to ensure students are supported.

Counseling:

We understand that the anxiety related to this event has caused many students social or emotional distress. If your child is in crisis, whereas they are a threat to themselves or others, you should call 911. If your child is seeing a school-based clinician, as part of our in-school counseling service, their services will continue as planned when school is in session once again.  There are additional resources on our website to help your student through this time.  https://www.minuteman.org/Page/935

The special education staff values our partnership and will make themselves available throughout this unforeseen closure. Notably, a 48-hour response time from Minuteman staff will be reasonable when responding to emails. It is the intent that our best practices, support, and enrichment activities will keep your child engaged.  Thank you for your continued support and flexibility as we navigate these unprecedented times. Please stay tuned for more information if circumstances change. As we are in constant communication with our liaisons at both the state and federal level, we will continue to communicate any updates as a district and department in a timely manner.  For updates from Minuteman, continue to visit our website, www.minuteman.org  

 

Be well,

Amy Perreault
Assistant Superintendent
Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District