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    Special Education Remote Learning FAQ

    Return to the Remote Learning FAQ webpage.

    How will the district be providing services and supports to students with disabilities during the 2020-21 school year?

    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 paraprofessionals, 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.

    How is SPS determining which students will be served in-person?

    All IEP teams will meet to review student progress through remote learning and decide if any in-person services are needed. Teams will review data to determine if the student requires in-person services to make meaningful progress on their IEP goals and determine how in-person services can be provided in compliance with health guidelines. Consideration of further data collection may be necessary. If additional data collection is needed, staff will continue progress monitoring and will provide increased opportunities to build-in remote supports (small groups, accommodations, modifications).

    If the IEP team finds in-person services necessary, the services will be provided at the student’s assigned school, transportation will be provided, and services will be delivered in compliance with health guidelines. Once a student has been identified for in-person services through the IEP process, families will receive regular communication throughout the process up until, and during, the time the students begin in their school building.

    How often will students be seen?

    The schedule for services will be determined for each student, based on services in the student’s IEP that the IEP team determine must be provided in person in order for the student to make progress. Only services which cannot be effectively provided remotely will be served in-person, which means a student may receive some services in-person, and some virtually. It is unlikely that a student will receive all-day in-person services for the entire school week.

    What safety protocols have been put into place for in-person special education services?

    The following are procedures and protocols that all staff supporting a student in-person will be trained in:

    • Student Attestation Process and Staff Attestation Process
    • Bus Monitor Procedure
    • Drop Off/Pick Up Procedures
    • Student Health Alert and Contact Tracing
    • Isolation Room Protocol
    • HVAC and Air Quality Procedure
    • Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol
    • Personal Protective Equipment Evaluation and Training

    Is SPS providing special education services in a student's home?

    We are not currently offering special education services in a student's home. In-person services are typically being offered at the student's school building, where we can ensure that appropriate safety protocols have been followed.

    Can my student still receive related services digitally if my family is temporarily living outside of Washington State due to COVID-19, but still enrolled in SPS?

    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.

    If a family chooses to reside outside of Washington State, the district will be documenting this in a Prior Written Notice and related services will stop. Upon return to Washington State services will resume.

    How are IEP meetings being handled this year?

    Seattle Public Schools will follow legal timelines according to OSPI with any current IEPs and reevaluations during this time. Meetings may be offered online or via conference call. Families have a right to request an IEP meeting at any time. You can request a meeting by contacting your student’s case manager.

    How are initial evaluations and reevaluations being handled this year?

    Evaluations and reevaluations will be conducted via a combination of remote and/or in-person sessions with appropriate safety protocols. Preschool evaluations have been conducted all summer virtually and will continue in this manner until a system is in place for in-person evaluations.

    Will SPS be offering recovery services for students this year?

    Recovery services describe the need to recover any educational gaps in learning or loss of skills caused by unexpected school facility closures. IEP teams will determine on an individual basis what type of, how much, and when recovery services, if any, are needed. Recovery services are not generally expected to be in the same amount that was missed (i.e., minute for minute, hour for hour) and depends more on student progress. Recovery services are generally provided outside of the district’s school day (documented separately or within the IEP) or they can be reflected as increased or supplemental services in the student's current IEP. Some or all recovery services can be provided in Fall 2020 and some or all can be provided when in-person school operations resume.

    Will students receiving special education services have mandatory attendance in their general education settings?

    We will be following district policies regarding attendance collection and reporting for students with IEPs. If attendance becomes a concern for any student with an IEP in any course, the case manager will convene the IEP team to collaborate on a plan to support student engagement and attendance.

    Do IEP minutes have to be delivered synchronously?

    IEP minutes can be delivered either synchronously or asynchronously.

    What if my student has a 1:1 paraprofessional or behavior technician?

    IEP teams will determine all services and supports that are needed to support students in making progress on IEP goals during remote learning. If you have a question about your student's services or students schedule including the providers who will be serving your student, please connect with your student’s IEP case manager.

    What online platform will teachers be using for remote instruction?

    Special education teachers and paraprofessionals will be using the same learning platforms as general education teachers. In certain situations that require ASL interpretation, Deaf and hard of hearing staff and students have been given permission to use Zoom.

    What resources and professional development opportunities are being shared with special education staff?

    We have provided multiple guidance documents, recorded and made numerous trainings available, and shared both optional and required professional development opportunities widely. We have gathered these resources onto a single page internally so that teachers have easy access in one location. We reference the resource page in our trainings regularly. We are also collaborating with other departments to make our trainings available and visible to all teaching staff.

    What resources regarding delivery of special education services are being shared with general educators?

    There have been several trainings general education staff have been invited to, for example, we recently made available a training on "Accommodations and Modifications for the Classroom Educator" at the most recent district-wide training day. We have also done specialized trainings for building leaders. All special education resources are posted where any teacher or staff member with an SPS email address can access them. We have provided professional development to special education staff and general education staff on inclusionary practices in a remote setting.

    What direction has been given to case managers about progress monitoring this fall?

    We provided a pre-recorded and ASL-interpreted required training on progress monitoring, along with several resources, including data collection templates, to all certificated special education staff on October 8, 2020.

    Why was the department leadership reorganized this year?

    The department was reorganized to be in alignment with the new Learning Support Teams and the addition of new Directors of Schools. We believe that this reorganization will allow us to work more effectively with our district partners and our school partners.

    This reorganization is designed to support our strategic plan to "develop district-wide operational systems that provide a predictable and consistent experience to meet the needs of students, families, staff and allow them to focus on learning."

    We made an announcement on our website about new staff. Read the July 2020 department announcement.

    We have also updated the Special Education department contact page to reflect the changes in the which Supervisors and Program Specialists are supporting which schools.

    What mental health supports are in place to support students and families?

    We recognize that remote learning has been challenging for all families and that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a unique impact on students with disabilities and their families. Educators have been encouraged to focus on social emotional learning and health, though they are not professional mental health experts, and it is quite possible that adults might need support as well. To provide additional mental health supports, we have collected information on mental health services available throughout the community and how they can be accessed. Read more about mental health supports for SPS students.

    How is the Special Education Department communicating with families?

    The Special Education Department is committed to providing information to families. In addition to the regular communications to families from the Office of Public Affairs, schools, and individual teachers or service providers, we will be providing specific information to families of students who receive special education services once a month. Those communications will be via email and archived on the Special Education Department website. The monthly communications will also be translated for our multilingual families.

    If families are not receiving communications from the Special Education Department, please email

    What if I have questions?

    If you have specific questions about your student, we encourage you to get in touch with your student’s IEP case manager. If you are encountering issues reaching your student’s teacher or case manager, please contact your school’s principal. You can also reach the department at 206-252-0054 or

    For more contacts, visit our Special Education Department staff webpage.