10 April, 2020
Hello valued Parents, Guardians, and Families:
I hope this message reaches you and your children and families feeling healthy and adjusting to the new reality in which our district, country, and world find ourselves.
As you know, all OUSD schools will be closed for the rest of the instructional year. Over the last four weeks, our schools have undergone a major transformation from places of in-person learning and team collaboration to developing and putting into action plans to support families and students remotely. This has been a big transition and has caused stress and confusion, but it has also resulted in many creative and inspiring ideas. I am deeply thankful for our teachers, staff and leaders for their flexibility and student-focused planning.
I wanted to take a moment to explain how Special Education will be happening through the close of the 2019-20 instructional year:
- The Department continues to prioritize the safety and mental health of our students during this challenging time. We are providing weekly virtual and telephone-based therapy services for students who require such care, and our behavioral specialists and licensed vocational nurses are engaging with families on an ongoing basis;
- Related services will continue, though in a different format than when we are able to see students in person. As appropriate, Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Adaptive PE teachers, and other other related services staff will be holding individual and group-based sessions with students; they will also be providing consultation services to families, General Education, and Special Education Teachers.
- Our Special Education teachers are collaborating with general educators to adapt and accommodate learning plans and lessons. They will be providing parent/guardian consultation services and some direct instructional services over the coming weeks. If you have not already heard from your child’s teacher/case manager, you should expect outreach within the next five days;
- We are continuing to hold IEP meetings to the maximum extent possible. Please see the Questions and Answers that accompany this letter for more specific information about IEPs.
I wish to be transparent with you when sharing that this is not ‘business as usual.’ Though our staff are prioritizing direct service and support to students and families, the workday has been reduced due to the impact of COVID. Moreover, online/distance learning has limitations. There is no way for us, or any of our neighboring districts, to provide services as indicated in Individual Education Programs in this context.
I want to appreciate each of you for the support you are providing to your children at this time as you work alongside us in our education plans. I know that our families are balancing work, care for loved ones, and instruction. I also know that teaching and parenting a child with special needs poses unique and real challenges. This is a time of true struggle for our community, and it will take time for us to overcome it, but I believe in the dedication of our parents, guardians, partners and staff and in the resilience of the OUSD family.
Please review the revised Questions and Answers document that accompanies this letter, which I will be updating regularly as we receive new guidance and information. For the most timely updates, feel free to visit our website at ousd.org/specialeducation.
Thank you, and be well!
Links to Other Curricular and Community Resources
Unique Learning Curriculum Units
Questions and Answers for Families in Other Languages