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Special Education & Remote Learning

UPCOMING VIRTUAL EVENTS

The Special Education Department and The Arc of Jefferson County are pleased to co-host a Community Forum for parents to answer the Top 10 questions about providing remote learning services to students with disabilities. 

Join us on Tuesday, May 5 at 7:00 pm or Thursday, May 7 at 7:00 pm.  There will be a Spanish-interpreted session on May 7 at 5:00 p.m.  The forums will be held via zoom. 

Please see this flyer for registration information.

WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER

Letter to Families

Dear Jeffco Families,

 In this unprecedented time, the Special Education Department is making every effort to provide appropriate special education and related services for students with disabilities. We understand that this transition has created new challenges for our students, families, and staff.

 While your child’s needs have not changed, the conditions in which we are working have changed considerably, so we want to collaborate with you to develop a remote learning plan for your child. In doing so, we are considering the nature of a student’s disability and the individual needs of the student with an emphasis on learning, access, and progress toward goals as our highest priorities. We trust that you are in touch with your child’s service providers to work together to plan for ongoing instruction. We greatly appreciate your collaboration, adaptability, and understanding as we are learning to navigate our current reality together. We can do this and support each other with grace, empathy, and kindness through this disruption.

To improve our processes, we will continue to review and respond to comments and questions submitted by the community.

Take care of yourselves and each other, and thank you again for all you do.

Respectfully,

Jeffco Special Education Team

REMOTE LEARNING IEP SERVICES PLAN

We at Jeffco are proud that Jeffco special education teachers and service providers have been working diligently and thoughtfully in order to support our students with special education needs.  They have been designing accessible lessons, providing practice activities, delivering online therapy sessions, coaching parents/caregivers through online targeted lessons, and providing consultation to families.  In collaboration with families, we are developing temporary IEP Services Plans that reflect our practical approach to providing the most essential services to students.  This has been done in consideration of the constraints we have been given to maintain the safety of our students and staff.

Step 1:  Prioritize Remote Services

Special Education and General Education providers review your child’s IEP and prioritize the services that can be provided remotely and that allow the student to make progress on IEP goals.


Step 2:  Develop a Plan

 
Families engage in a conversation with your student’s case manager from the school when they contact you to share your ideas.  Ask questions, offer your suggestions and ideas, and collaborate with the providers to identify the priority services that your student can receive in a remote environment.  Families will receive follow up communication detailing the agreements of the remote learning IEP services plan.
 
Step 3:  Implement the Plan

Together with your child if possible, make a schedule that reflects the essential services and delivery times.  Set aside a “school space” somewhere where your student can work with few distractions.  Provide the learning materials necessary that will make it feel more like school.   To the extent reasonable, ask your student to follow the schedule independently.  Reminders such as “When’s your next speech therapy session?” or, “When is that assignment due to your teacher?” can be helpful to keep your child engaged in the day.  (Sample schedule below.)

Step 4:  Make Adjustments

Please continue to stay in communication with the service providers at the school to let them know how your student is doing.  Make any adjustments to the plan and services to meet the student’s needs.  The delivery of some types of services remotely may require adult support in the home, so consider your availability when designing the remote services schedule.  If something isn’t working, call your child’s special education provider to discuss possible solutions.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is a visual schedule and how does it work?

A visual schedule is a format that allows your child to see what activities are planned for the day and when they are happening.  There are several different types of visual schedules to consider when thinking about your child.  Does your child need only two items on the schedule at one time?  Can they handle seeing the whole day planned out?  Do they need pictures or words to represent the activity?

Create your own visual schedule here!

visual schedule

Will the Special Education ESY (Extended School Year) be in-person this summer?

In-person Jeffco Public Schools-based organized activities (or supports for these activities such as practice) which create group congregations are prohibited until August 1st. As a result, ESY services will be provided as remote learning opportunities. 

Dates for ESY Services are extended to July 1 through July 31 to accommodate the challenges of remote teaching/learning. Your child’s special education teacher will be contacting you to share more information.

Help! I am trying to work or take care of my children, and I don’t have time to assist my child with these services.

We have found that some families struggle to manage the delivery of remote services due to a variety of factors.  We would like to partner with you to problem-solve the situation.  Remember that “remote” doesn’t always mean “online.”  Some students are not independent with technology and are not engaged by online instruction/activities.  Those students may need access to their more preferred hands-on activities and lessons.  Staff can assemble those materials and ensure you get them.

I’ve received so many calls and emails from teachers and staff, I cannot manage it all. How can I get organized?

In our efforts to ensure students have received remote instructional activities, we realize we may have overwhelmed some families.  Just tell us.  Ask your child’s case manager to help you prioritize the classes and services.  We can help you set up a daily or weekly schedule to help you organize a busy and unfamiliar day.

Here’s a sample schedule:  

1. Make a simple calendar - big piece of paper or even a wall with some masking tape will do - don’t make a line for every minute of the day unless your child needs that structure.  They can have some down time. 

2. Make a sticky note with each activity your child has been asked to do:  
a) Reading on Tues/Thurs 9:00 -9:30
b) Math on Wed/Fri  9:00 - 9:30
c) Mr. Calm (Mental Health) Tues/Thurs - 11:00 - 11:30 
d) Speech Wed 1:00 - 1:30 
e) Make a Lunch/Recess sticky note for every day

3. Put the sticky notes in the right order on each day -If the time changes - move the sticky

 Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
 Ms. Lisa check-in 8:30  Activity bins (see below) 8:00 Ms. Lisa check-in 8:30  Art Activity 8:30-9:00   Ms. Lisa check-in 8:30
 Walk the dog 10:00  Reading Ms. Smith 9:00-9:30 (gen ed class)  Math Ms. Smith 9:00-9:30 (gen ed class)  Reading Ms. Smith 9:00-9:30 (gen ed class)  Math Ms. Smith 9:00-9:30 (gen ed class)
 Read a book 11:00-11:30  Group Time with Mr. Calm 11:00-11:30 (Mental Health provider)  Speech Time with Ms. Talker 1:00-1:30 (Speech Provider)  Group Time with Mr. Calm 11:00-11:30  Spelling with Ms. Nice (para support)
 Lunch/Recess 11:30-12:30  Lunch/Recess 11:30-12:30  Lunch/Recess 11:30-12:30  Lunch/Recess 11:30-12:30  Lunch/Recess 11:30-12:30
 Afternoon off!  Reading Group Ms. Smart (Special ed. Teacher intervention time)  Science 1:00-1:30  Tell/Draw/Write a story for 30 minutes Read a book 12:30-1:00 

 

sped bins


I really am not able to help my student during the work day. Can I opt out of services?

Some families may simply be unable to manage remote learning, for whatever reason.  You may notify us that you choose not to receive special education services.  You can change your mind at any time - just call your case manager.  We will still contact you occasionally to check in and see if your situation has changed.

Where do I get help with the technology my student requires for these lessons?

Many of us are learning new skills every day!  Jeffco has a website that offers Technical Resources and that answers a lot of these questions.  Your team can also assist you.

My child has a hard time paying attention for extended time periods. What is something I can do to help?

A visual timer can be useful when attempting to increase time-on-task.  This allows your child to see what the expectations are for time working.  You can also use first/then language where the “first” is what you are currently asking them to do and the “then” is a reinforcing and preferred activity. Other strategies include using sensory tools or fidgets during learning times. We can also implement using a checklist and using scheduled breaks. 

How do I use a reinforcement system to help reduce problem behaviors (and/or increase desired behaviors) and what are some examples?

A reinforcement system helps us increase the desired behaviors.  It will help your student learn that the good behavior gets them something they want, while the bad behaviors do not.  Some examples are a token board, points sheet, sticker chart, first/then, and earning money for chores.

My student is really anxious and/or sad about these changes. Where can I find help for this?

This is really to be expected during these confusing times.  Your child has little to no access to familiar friends, teachers and school activities.  You might be grieving too, because your day and your life has been disrupted.  Jeffco has a website with a lot of Mental Health Supports.  You can also reach out to your team for support. 

How do I help my child learn to take a break when they need it?

  1. If you begin noticing patterns in your child’s challenging behaviors when they are starting to show signs of frustration or anger, you can begin by pointing them out to your child. Ex: “I notice you are stomping your feet, are you starting to feel frustrated?” By modeling the language and identifying telling signs of frustration, your child will also begin to notice the signals that indicate frustration in themselves, leading (eventually) to an increase in their ability to self-monitor. 
  2. Once they have identified their frustrations, they can take a specific amount of time (use a timer) to practice some calming strategies (deep breaths, stretches, ect.) and return to the task. Please remember, do not use a break as reward time or free play, they should engage in an already identified break time activity and then return to the work. 
  3. Some suggested break time activities: deep breaths, mindfulness activities, stretching, walking, movement breaks

How do I help my child calm down when they are upset about school work?

  1. Use very simple and direct language. Too many words can escalate someone even further when they are upset. Identify the emotion, prompt communication, and provide choices. For example, “You look frustrated. Do you need a drink or a walk?” Remind them “what they are working for.” This is great if you have a reinforcement system in place. 
  2. If your child is able to debrief at a later moment, first ensure that they have had ample time to recover. Then try to discover why they were upset and create a plan to avoid becoming upset in the future. 

How do I help my child when they are refusing to work?

Try to identify what pieces of the work are the most challenging or frustrating. Is it the amount of work, the level of difficulty or the amount of time? There are other potential challenges as well, but once you have identified the specific area that is most frustrating, you can address or modify that part of the work.

Always validate the frustration, ex: “I can see you are frustrated with how much time you are having to spend doing ____. Would it help if we did 5 more minutes, then took a break?”

You can also offer choices of which work to complete. For example, “Would you like to do math or reading?”

You also can refer to a reinforcement system if you have one in place.

*See information on reinforcement systems listed above*

What is behavior momentum and how do I use it?

Behavioral momentum is a behavioral strategy that entails making requests that are easy for the child before making requests that are more challenging or difficult. For example, if your child is having a difficult time engaging in spelling activities, you may start off “spelling time” with a word puzzle or game, then work on handwriting or tracing and then move into spelling.

How do I help motivate my child?

Use a reinforcement system. Remember to update their “reinforcers” as their preferences may change frequently! Use goal setting with your child as a part of the process. Ex: “What would you like to accomplish today?” Try to use their preferences, words and voice in making goals and behavior contracts. 

Sample Preference Assessment

RESOURCES FOR FAMILIES

(Supporting Individuals With Autism During Uncertain Times includes strong guidance and printable visuals and resource links to support students with autism, but will also support ALL learners.)

This online module from the Vanderbilt University IRIS Center provides parents with tips and strategies for supporting children during remote learning.
  • The Jeffco Dyslexia Advisory Committee (made up of families, community members and district staff) compiled a list of resources that have been helpful to families of students with dyslexia.  This is a list of possible resources, and are not necessarily endorsed by Jeffco Schools. You can access the list here.

CONTACTS

We encourage families to reach out to their case managers and schools with questions and concerns.  If more support is needed, please refer to the contacts below.

Special Education Assistant Director listed by School

 Dr. Dawn Loge Greer Executive Director 303-982-2991
 Liza Meier Director 303-982-9135
 Mary Greenwood Director 303-982-6688
 Matt Palaoro Director 303-982-3500

 

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