In this time of crisis, the manner in which all instruction in Bladen County Schools, including Students With Disabilities, is likely to look very different for the 2020-2021 school year. However, federal disability law provides flexibility in determining how to meet the needs of students with disabilities. The Bladen County Schools Exceptional Children (EC) department will continue to provide a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities.
For the 2020-2021 school year, the provision of FAPE might look very different, and may include as appropriate, special education and related services provided through distance instruction, remotely, virtually, online or telephonically. The sudden closure of schools in North Carolina in the spring of 2020 may have impacted some of the special education and related services provided to students with disabilities and, as a result, may require an amendment to the students’ Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to ensure the student continues to access the general education curriculum and receives FAPE.
As Bladen County Schools begins the 2020-2021 school year with remote learning, many accommodations and modifications will be provided during remote learning. All special population students will have equal access to materials, whether written or online. Here are some examples that Bladen County Schools is developing for its special needs population:
- Extended time to complete assignments
- Videos that include either captioning or sign language
- Reading materials in more accessible formats
- Related services, such as counseling and speech therapy, provided through video conferencing or by phone
- Modified curriculum to meet the needs of an individual student
- Direct instruction from a special education teacher for a short period each day, for students who have “resource” as part of their IEPs
It is important to note that FAPE, as a result of COVID-19 school building closures, looks different in each local circumstance and will require local guidance based on the educational continuity of services provided in each unique circumstance. The Bladen County Schools’ EC team has structures in place for reviewing individual student needs and providing special education and related services at the restart of the new school year. Additionally, the IEP team is making appropriate planning decisions based on individual student needs and circumstances.
Some accommodations and modifications will have to be adjusted during remote learning to make sure all students can benefit. Students who receive behavior supports will have appropriate school staff check in with them and/or their parents. Training can be provided for parents to help support their child at home. However, it might not be possible to safely provide certain services. Parents and school districts need to work together during this time.
The Bladen County Schools Exceptional Children department is committed to supporting its special needs population, ensuring their needs are identified and evaluated and are ready to begin the 2020-2021 school year with a clear plan for how their learning needs will be effectively supported, regardless of additional waves of COVID-19.