January 16, 2021

IEPs altered to reflect distance learning service changes, but at cost to schools

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Special education admins and teachers are burdened with more paperwork requirements and seek more guidance on replicating in-person services to distance learning formats.

When schools closed to in-person learning in the spring, some individualized supports for students with disabilities were easily transitioned to remote or virtual learning. But other services were harder to adapt to new learning formats due to the specific interventions that require physical or behavioral supports and other intensive services.

Special education services outlined in each student’s IEP must continue either in-person or remotely. Parents and districts say the harder-to-address problems lie in the cases where equitable services cannot be provided remotely, where in-person learning is not an option, and when families choose to have their child learn remotely even when there’s an in-person learning option. OSERS-funded technical assistance centers have been working to issue resources on best practices that address these concerns.

Educators also say they need relief from IEP timeline requirements that were developed without a pandemic in mind. Directors across the nation are struggling with additional paperwork due to the lack of guidance from the education department on the flexibilities in IDEA.

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