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Exceptional Children

COVID-19 Resources for Special Education and Early Learning

Published: 4/2/2020 1:38 PM
The Office of Special Education and Early Learning (OSEEL) continues to coordinate with the United States Department of Education (USED), the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide all necessary updates related to the COVID-19. 

The following new resources for educators, local leaders and families on K-12 support programs provide additional information on flexibilities, student privacy and educating students with disabilities during the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Kentucky is also in the process of sharing state specific guidance by organizing and creating additional support resources for educators. This information is located below for your reference and it will continue to be updated.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How will we manage home hospital students?  Will teachers still have to go out 2 days a week?  We are a Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) district but don't usually use this many NTI days in a row, so it hasn't come up before.  If they are doing the same work that our other students do, will this be sufficient?

Answer: Due to these extraordinary circumstances, districts may utilize the phone or other technology to contact students on home hospital. There is no need to change the student's code.

Preschool teachers would like some guidance on providing instruction during NTI days, since they don't use worksheets and online instruction. Their days look much different with a more hands on/play style learning. 

A: Preschool teachers could create opportunities for students that mirror activities they would have at school and share them with parents. The district isn't required to submit student work on preschool students on NTI days. 

Instructional practices for NTI days may vary depending on individual student needs, and these practices must be focused on developmentally appropriate teaching and learning experiences. Options may include the following: 

  • Take-home activities. This may consist of early childhood learning projects that parents/caregivers and children can do together, either indoors or outdoors. Activities should provide opportunities for children to develop skills in all domains: literacy and language development, cognitive/general knowledge, physical well-being and motor development, social and emotional development, and approaches to learning. Avoid dittos or worksheets, as these items are not appropriate for 3- and 4-year-old children. 
  • Early Childhood Interactive Media. While e-learning is not a substitute for meaningful interactions between preschool students and adults, NTI districts may consider interactive media designed for early childhood education. Consider resources identified by Kentucky Educational Television and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning.
  • Blended approach. This approach may include a mix of take-home and interactive media activities to support early learning at home. Home visits may help districts with implementing this option. Districts may consult with local health officials about whether teachers may conduct home visits to help preschool students and families during NTI days. 

What is the plan for instruction of special education students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) during this time?

If a local school district elects to utilize Kentucky's NTI program to provide educational opportunities to the general student population then the district must also ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). 

If districts do not meet Special Education timelines for evaluation, Admissions and Release Committee (ARC) meetings, etc., will there be flexibility and will KDE support districts if this happens?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not specifically address a situation in which elementary and secondary schools are closed for an extended period due to exceptional circumstances, including a pandemic. In the event of extended school closures, the school district remains responsible for providing a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to its students with IEPs.

If a local school district elects to utilize Kentucky's NTI program to provide educational opportunities to the general student population then the district must also ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE.

NTI days are considered instructional days and must be included for purposes of determining compliance with IDEA timeline requirements including those related to special education and outlined in 707 KAR 1:320 and 707 KAR 1:340.

In situations in which missing a timeline is unavoidable, the Admissions and Release Committee (ARC) must make individual determinations for remedying the noncompliance which may include compensatory education to make up for any skills that may have been lost because the student did not receive educational benefit.

National Level Resources
The Council of Parent Advocates and Attorneys (COPAA), National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment (National PLACE) 
National Statement on Serving Students with Disabilities During COVID-19 Outbreak
(March 23, 2020)

United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (March 21, 2020)
Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities

Kentucky Resources

Letter Regarding IEP Services to Families of Children with Disabilities During the COVID-19 Pandemic (March 17, 2020)

OSEEL Resources

​Joseph McCowan
Office of Special Education and Early Learning
300 Sower Blvd., 5th Floor
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-9850 Ext. 4121
Fax (502) 564-6470

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