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    Welcome Back to School, Families!
    Posted on 09/03/2020

    Dear Families of Students Receiving Special Education Services,

    Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year. We have been working diligently over the summer to uplift summer programming and to plan for the return of our students and staff. While we are disappointed that we are unable to welcome you back to buildings face-to-face, we are excited to build relationships with students and families during the Strong Start. Our teams have been planning and building systems to support more robust remote learning practices.

    2020-2021 Changes
    There are two significant changes for this fall, in alignment with the most recent guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI):

    1. We will be implementing IEPs as written, to the greatest extent possible, and
    2. We will be providing specially designed instruction remotely, through both live (synchronous) and recorded (asynchronous) methods. 

    Special Education Services
    Our goal is to provide an engaging and rigorous remote learning experience for all students. We are confident our students can be served successfully in a remote setting. We are planning to provide academic, social emotional, behavioral, and related services and supports virtually, online, telephonically, and/or in a combination. Educators, including related service providers (such as SLPs, OTs, and PTs) and Instructional Assistants, will be working collaboratively to provide special education services, and will support students remotely as students work to make progress on IEP goals. Although services may look different than they did prior to the COVID closures, our goal remains the same: to support and engage students in making meaningful progress.

    IEP Team Meetings
    IEP teams will meet this fall to discuss and determine how services will be provided to support each student. Families will be at the table when discussing what supports for their student will look like. Case managers (usually your student’s special education teacher) will be reaching out to families within the first few weeks of school to convene an IEP meeting, if necessary.

    Remote Learning
    While we aim to serve all students according to their needs remotely, in rare individual cases some students may need limited in-person services to make meaningful progress on specific IEP goals. Teams will strive to utilize all resources and tools to serve students remotely. If the IEP team finds in-person services necessary, they will be provided at the student’s assigned school, transportation will be provided, and services will be delivered in compliance with health guidelines.

    Staff Training
    Staff, both special education and general education, are being trained in best practices for inclusionary remote learning, protocols for conducting evaluations, and decision-making guidance for IEP meetings. Training will continue for staff throughout the year, and central office special education staff will be available to provide ongoing support for our educators.

    Family Communication
    Families can expect to receive routine monthly updates from the Special Education department. In the beginning of the school year, to facilitate a strong transition back to school, families may receive additional, more frequent, communications. All communications will be archived on the Special Education department website and will be translated into the district’s top five languages. Our department will also be continuing to add special education-specific information to the Seattle Public Schools Remote Learning FAQ.

    This afternoon (September 3, 2020), Superintendent Juneau will be hosting a special “back to school” edition of her weekly Facebook Live Virtual Town Hall events. Superintendent Juneau will be joined by Special Education department leadership, who will provide some verbal updates and information about the upcoming school year. Please tune in at 4:30pm. ASL interpretation will be provided.

    If you have questions, concerns, or require further information, please contact your student’s case manager or your student’s building principal.

    We are all here to serve students - creatively, meaningfully, and effectively. Though we cannot be together right now, we wish to share our genuine excitement to work with your children again this fall.

    Take good care and welcome back,

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