Do You Know What the U.S. Government is Doing for Students with Learning Disabilities During the Pandemic?
The bulk of this story hasn't even been written yet.
The schools we walk back into are going to be different. Our students are going to be different. And that is going to be the story that we tell.
Our students with disabilities are still protected under IDEA during the pandemic. But recently, the United States signed into law a new act - the CARES Act.
The CARES Act is a US law targeting the economic fallout of the pandemic, and this includes our schools.
And one specific move that it makes is to allow waivers that free local educational agencies (or LEAs) from the legally binding evaluation timelines for students with disabilities. Essentially, this means that states can ask to have evaluation timelines waived for 30 to 45 days upon our return to schools. This would give schools time to provide instruction prior to evaluating students.
I think this will allow us all some time to come back and breathe. Most of us aren't going back until next year, and by then, a student will have a new class and a new teacher! That's shocking when you haven't prepared for it.
And I can’t stop thinking about the questions that IEP teams wrestle with when they are determining eligibility. How can we know if underachievement is not due to a lack of instruction unless we give our students some time?
But then I see the other side too…
Teachers and families alike get frustrated by how long the referral process can take.. And now imagine adding another 30 to 45 days to this timeline?!
And now think about those families who have hoped for that gap to be closed for years - they don't have time to wait.
What do you think about this?
Teaching our students with learning disabilities requires specialized instruction from a specialized instructor. Special Education teachers are able to masterfully design lessons that include an abundance of multi-sensory tools because as we know - this is how our students with learning disabilities learn best. But now all teachers are being asked to instruct from their computer screens, and multi-sensory instruction seems virtually impossible - pun intended!
I’m sure this won’t surprise you, but - teachers are amazing! They have been able to transition to distance learning virtually (pun intended) without any professional development and little to no distance learning resources.
But what we do continue to have are goals for our students.
We will be able to …
-keep our students’ skills fresh
-prevent regression and
Even virtual relationships are important!
And here are 5+ Ideas for achieving those goals for Distance Learning with Learning Disabilities:
1. Phonemic Awareness
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6. Social Emotional Learning
And make sure you are checking in on your students every day. Ask them how they are feeling. Let them know that it's okay to feel how they are feeling.
Happy & Healthy Teaching!
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