Return-to-Learn Plan for Special Education

The Sioux City Community School District has created a Return-to-Learn Plan. The plan contains basic information about three different models for learning: Virtual Learning, Hybrid Learning, and On-site Learning. The information within the plan applies to all students. Additionally, this information gives further guidance on how the plan addresses details specific to special education.

When we return to school, students will have been out for several months. It will be important for us to work together and support our students through this transition. Please be patient as we work to establish routines and relationships with students. Our collaboration and collective support are essential for students as we return to a social and instructional setting.

  • Special Education teachers will utilize the same platforms for instruction as General Education teachers within the District at the same grade levels. This will provide consistency for families, especially those with multiple students.
  • At the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, assessments will be administered, and data analysis conducted to determine the educational level and proficiency of students. The following assessments will be used to make programming and placement decisions: IGDIs for literacy and math for preschool students, FAST literacy assessment for students in grades TK-5, FAST math assessment for students in grades TK-5, District-developed BME math assessment for students in grades 6-12, Rapid literacy assessment for students in grades 6-8, Open Response writing assessments in grades 9-12 and the District-developed pre-assessment in literacy for students in grades 2-12. Assessment results will be shared with parents at the fall parent-teacher conferences. IEP progress monitoring will be completed to determine student performance related to IEP goals.
  • Continuous Learning Plan: Each student with an IEP will have a Continuous Learning Plan developed after 8/1/2020. Though not an official form, this plan will include questions that will inform the IEP team of the student’s learning needs in a virtual or hybrid learning situation. We anticipate beginning to have meetings regarding these plans in early August 2020.
    • The plan is individualized to the student
    • Questions address device needs (accessibility, communication)
    • Questions address the level of independence and support needed
    • Questions address student availability for instruction (work schedules of parent/guardian)
    • Questions address parent training needs
  • When in a virtual learning model, it may be necessary for teams to adjust the amount of specially designed instruction provided to a child simply because the learning model is different. While a typical school day is 410-415 minutes, a virtual school day will not be the same length of time. It will be difficult for many students to stay engaged in a virtual setting for 30-60 minutes at a time. Virtual lessons and independent practice will look different depending on the student’s needs. Example scenarios have been considered (IEP teams make final determinations):
    • For students who receive their direct instruction in a general education setting through a consultation model or co-teaching, the special education teacher will need to work with the general education teacher when planning for virtual instruction to make sure direct instruction and accommodations can happen appropriately. This may require some small group instruction for pre-teaching or re-teaching, but the planning with the general education teacher will be critical.
    • For students who participate in specially designed instruction within a special education setting for supplemental instruction, we will consider how to provide that virtually. A team might consider 20-25 minutes of instruction per week per goal area. The team would need to consider the content and attention span of the student in making a determination. This would be in addition to the instruction that the student would receive from the general education teacher, with appropriate accommodations.
    • For students who receive all of their academic instruction from a special education teacher in a goal area, a team might consider 15-20 minutes per day per goal area for direct instruction. Again, teams will need to consider the content and attention span of the student before making a final determination. For many of the research-based SDI materials we use within the District, there will be an online component that we will make available to assist in the continuity of the specially designed instruction.
    • For students who receive nearly all of their instruction within a special education setting and who participate in alternate assessment, a team will need to consider not only direct instruction but also how to build daily living activities within the home into the instruction. A team may consider 10-15 minutes per day for direct instruction in each goal area, plus daily living activities as instructional activities. A team will also need to consider the content, the attention span, and the level of independence of the student. A teacher may provide or record a shared reading activity and have WH activities that can be done with the teacher in the virtual setting or with the family at home. In addition to a math lesson, students can count/sort silverware used at meals, sort laundry, match coins, follow directions/routines to brush teeth, etc. Please consider if students will need specific manipulatives. Students can “write” to their teacher using pictures, symbols, letters, or words.
    • For students who require significant behavior supports, a team might consider social skills instruction online. In addition, teachers can work with families to set up reinforcement schedules based on tasks completed at home, good deeds, or attendance/work completed for academic coursework. This would be in addition to the work in other goal areas for academics and participation in general education class instruction if appropriate.
  • If virtual learning is implemented, all TK-12 students will take devices home. Additional devices such as communication devices and switches will be made available as required by IEPs to ensure access to free and appropriate public education. In addition, the instructional device made available will be accessible to students with IEPs. Devices may include touchscreens, tablets, or iPads as options to laptops if needed.
  • We are working to have online materials available that are consistent with the materials used for on-site specially designed instruction.
  • The work of paraeducators will be reviewed in a virtual learning model. Paraeducators may be creating materials to send home with students, recording shared readings, creating visuals to be used in the homes, etc. IEP teams will determine the role of specific paraeducators.
  • We will work with technology to ensure that when sign language interpreters are needed in a virtual learning situation, that they are able to be appropriately placed on the screen so that the student can see them at all times.
  • Masks or face shields will be expected as outlined in the Return-to-Learn Plan. We understand that there are a variety of reasons that students will be uncomfortable with these items. They are expected to be worn when students are transitioning into/within the buildings. This will be an area of instruction for many students.
  • Summer School
    • ESYS: Meetings have been held with all students who were determined eligible for ESYS. Virtual tutoring services are happening now. IEP teams will reconvene when school resumes to discuss what extended services might look like for those students who were determined eligible but virtual services were not appropriate.
    • Summer School for Identified Grades & Courses: Summer school is for all students entering first grade, second grade, and eighth grade. Additionally, students that were enrolled in Principles of Algebra and Geometry (PAG) or Algebra I during the 2019-20 school year are attending summer school. The summer school program is dedicated to helping students learn critical information that was missed and to revisit important lessons that are key to success in the upcoming school year. Summer school is available to all students in these grade levels/courses. Paraprofessional support may be available for students to access this service. Special education teachers will be available, but IEP goals will not be progress monitored. Instruction will focus on reading or math.
  • The current situation requires an understanding that the instructional model may change depending on the health/COVID-19 situation in the classroom, building, District, city, county, or state. These changes may require more frequent IEP meetings and more frequent communication regarding services for students with IEPs.