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    Family Communications, November 2020
    Posted on 11/20/2020

    Dear Families of Students Receiving Special Education Services,

    We are now in our third month of the 2020-21 school year. We have heard stories from our families of challenges and fatigue and anxiety. It is difficult to understate how disruptive these months have been for everyone. We have also heard stories of students learning to participate in a remote setting in new and exciting ways. We have heard stories of educators and families developing strong relationships. We have heard stories of students learning and connecting, despite the fact that we must be apart right now. Please make sure you are doing your best to take care of yourself and your family. It is okay to take a minute to breathe when you need to.

    We would also like to acknowledge that even though it is no longer officially Disability History Awareness Month, our commitment to disrupting ableism and amplifying the voices and experiences of our students with disabilities remains active all year round. We look forward to continuing the important work to center the voices of our students and their families. Thank you for joining us in recognizing that Disability History Awareness Month and Disability Pride Month happen every single month.

    In-Person Services Update
    Earlier this week, Governor Jay Inslee announced a four-week statewide set of expanded restrictions that began Monday, November 16. K-12 education and childcare are exempt from the new state restrictions. As a district, we will continue supports like daily meals, childcare, and will provide in-person instruction for some students receiving special education services following Public Health and Labor & Industry guidance.

    We take this process seriously and continue in our unwavering commitment to students. In partnership with SEA, staff have created strong systems and protocols to prioritize the safety and well-being of students, staff, and families across all our schools. In the summer of 2020, Seattle Public Schools partnered and bargained with Seattle Education Association a Memorandum of Understanding in order to have clarity on expectations for staff, students, and families to ensure adherence to safety guidelines. Seattle Public School has taken a stance that we will do whatever it takes to ensure that schools and our staff are equipped with the highest level of PPE and protocols for fidelity to upholding these values.

    Upcoming Engagement Opportunities - Save the Date
    The Special Education Department, in partnership with families, facilitators, and community-based organizations will be hosting our second round of engagement sessions with families. The purpose of these sessions is to summarize the information we received at our first listening sessions in late August, share updates on our work so far this year, listen to feedback from families, and answer questions. We will be sending more information shortly, but please hold space on your calendars to attend one of the following sessions that you identify with.

    • Friday, December 4, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Chinese and Vietnamese-speaking families and community. Mandarin and Vietnamese interpreters will be available.
    • Friday, December 11, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Spanish-speaking families and community. Spanish interpreters will be available. 
    • Tuesday, December 15, 6:30 – 8:00pm: Indigenous families and community (Native American, Pacific Islanders and others).
    • Tuesday, January 12, 6:30 – 8:00pm: Black families and community.
    • Friday, January 15, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Somali and Oromo-speaking families and community. Somali and Oromo interpreters will be available. 
    • Tuesday, January 19, 6:30 – 8:00pm: Black, Indigenous, families of color and community.
    • Friday, January 22, 6:30 – 8:30pm: Tigrinya and Amharic-speaking families. Tigrinya and Amharic interpreters will be available. 
    • Tuesday, January 26, 6:30 – 8:00pm: All families of students receiving special education services.

     

    Updated FAQ
    We have updated the family FAQ for special education services during remote learning. You can now find additional information about services, professional development, and other information. If you have questions not addressed in the FAQ, please contact your student’s case manager or our department at specialed@seattleschools.org.

    Out-of-state ESA services
    Seattle Public Schools is providing special education services to all of its students in this time of remote instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if students are physically living out of Washington State while receiving remote instruction, at this time, some services cannot be provided due to state licensure regulations. The Washington State Department of Health allows occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, physical therapists, and audiologists to practice and provide services in the state of Washington only. Providing services to students outside of the state could result in the loss of board certification and licensure.

    Thank you all for your partnership and collaboration during these stressful times. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday and Native American Heritage Day, we do want to take a moment and share our gratitude for all that you are doing to support students, staff, and the community. We are truly all in this together.

    Take good care. We appreciate you.

    Trish Campbell, Executive Director of Special Education
    Tarra Mitchell, Director of Special Education
    Devin Gurley, Director of Special Education