COVID-19 Special Education

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The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI) Office of Special Education is dedicated to gathering and creating local, regional and national resources in the area of special education. This website is designed to share information to help schools, educators, students, parents and caregivers.  Guidance and resource documents will be updated periodically throughout the school year.

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School Reentry Considerations for Special Education

Special education professionals and families are overcoming the stress and closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as they strive to serve students with disabilities. No plan to reopen can succeed without the input and partnership of the family, school and community.

Schools and districts should consider how alternative schedules, extended periods of remote learning, and intermittent school closures may impact students receiving special education services. Schools and districts need to ensure that students have meaningful and effective access to the general education environment and instruction. Least restrictive environment (LRE) considerations should be central to decision-making. Below are questions and potential risk factors to guide planning:

Guiding Questions

  1. How will schools and districts ensure students with disabilities understand new expectations, such as social distancing?

  2. How will schools and districts ensure social distancing expectations are met across all special education environments?

  3. How will schools and districts effectively plan for, use, and supervise special education paraprofessionals?

  4. How will schools and districts ensure backlogged IEP meetings, initial evaluations, reevaluations and special education referrals are implemented in a timely manner?

  5. How will schools make data driven instructional decisions, including recoupment of unfinished learning during the distance learning period for students with disabilities?

  6. How will schools and districts ensure that special education evaluations and reevaluations continue without interruption?

  7. How will schools and districts allow reasonable time for special education staff to collect data on students with disabilities’ present levels of performance in order to determine the impact on progress that occurred during COVID?

  8. How will schools and districts ensure students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) are provided a free, appropriate public education?

  9. How will schools and districts ensure students with developmental challenges or those who are medically fragile are kept safe while in the school building?

  10. How will schools and districts ensure individualized contingency plans meet students’ needs when instruction needs to take place through an alternative learning situation (i.e. alternate schedules, periods of distance learning)?

  11. How will schools and districts ensure that students with disabilities have meaningful and effective access to general education and instruction?

  12. How will schools and districts accommodate social distancing requirements while providing services to students who require 1:1 assistance and supervision?

  13. How will schools and districts ensure students who struggle with transitions are successful during sudden disruptions in routines and schedules?

  14. How will schools and districts ensure all IEP teams and educators have access to assessments, supports and instructional supports to meet individual student’s assistive technology needs?

  15. How will students who are transition age continue to participate in work-based or community learning experiences?

  16. How will schools and districts plan for positive behavior interventions and supports to be in place and clearly communicated to all staff before students return?

  17. How will schools and districts ensure staff and other students are kept safe when responding to a student’s escalated or aggressive behaviors?

  18. How will schools and districts make sure students who utilize sensory spaces (trampolines, squeeze machines, swings, etc.) will be free to use them when needed?

  19. How will schools and districts ensure shared sensory space equipment is properly sanitized as each student uses the equipment?

Resources