COVID-19 and IEPs
This is a time unprecedented in our history. COVID-19 has shaken up our lives and within that, has disrupted what we know of the educational process. For individuals with special needs, the idea of remote schooling and participating in lessons via video calls can be quite daunting. Along with this, are all the areas that come along with special education, including IEP meetings and related services.
How to participate in an IEP meeting
It’s important to know the rules of an IEP and the subsequent meeting still apply, even under remote schooling. An annual IEP meeting is still required and all the key players in your child’s school life must be present. Additionally, these teachers must provide an update on your child’s progress along with other important topics that need to be discussed. For safety reasons and social distancing rules, it may be appropriate or necessary to participate in this meeting completely, or partially, virtually. This may involve the most important individuals; parent, classroom teacher, and case manager; being in person, while the secondary individuals, such as an OT, PT, or speech therapist, participate remotely.
Even if some or all of your meeting is held remotely, remember that each person should have their turn to speak and you should have your turn to ask questions. If the meeting needs to be held remotely, request a video call instead of a phone conference. This will help facilitate people taking turns taking and will allow you to see the person as they’re speaking. If you’re on a video call for your IEP meeting, request people turn their videos on if they don’t do so on their own. This makes it as close to an in person meeting as possible.
How to make sure an IEP is followed
At the beginning of quarantine, there was a feeling that it would be over soon and things would be back to normal quickly. However, having just hit the 6 month mark of when stay at home orders were issued, we can see that we need to function as thought this is the new normal. This means that whether we are in person, remote, or a combination of the two, IEP services need to be followed and can’t be written off as something that will be made up at a later time. For individuals with special needs, this means that their class ratios need to be followed, including adhering to providing an aide if one is required as per the student’s IEP.
For in person services, this should be easy to provide, but for remote services, this may mean that a teacher’s aide logs on at the same time as your child to provide one-to-one assistance. This also applies to related service hours such as OT, PT, and speech. It’s not acceptable to be offered make up hours since we do not know when remote learning will be ending. If this is what your child is being offered and you feel as though your child’s IEP is not being met, it’s suggested to reach out to your school and possibly even reach out to an advocate for assistance. An advocate can help provide direction and help contact the school if you feel your needs are not being met and your child’s IEP is not being administered appropriately.