The Louisiana Department of Education today released information and resources to support continuous learning for students with disabilities.
The resources, which are designed for school systems and families, include distance education models; samples of daily schedules and communication systems; information about remotely providing direct student services, such as occupational therapy or counseling; and guidance on how to ensure compliance with special education timelines and requirements.
"It is important for all students, including those with special needs, to have the opportunity to learn even in unusual circumstances," said Jackie Tisdell, co-chair of the Department's Special Education Advisory Panel. "This distance learning environment brings new challenges in meeting the needs of students who require additional support. The resources being provided by the Louisiana Department of Education will greatly improve the ability of schools and families to overcome barriers to learning for long-term success."
All public school facilities in Louisiana are currently closed to students, but school systems have been advised to continue essential functions, such as providing meals and offering distance education to all students, including students with disabilities, to the extent possible.
According to an internal survey, 56 percent of school systems are offering distance education to their students. Distance education can take many forms. It does not require the use of technology devices or Internet access.
Last week, the Department released a toolkit to equip all school systems with tools and guidance to help them start or continue to make academic and workforce decisions based on the unique needs of their communities.
The resources released today build on that toolkit, aiming to specifically support the continuous learning needs of students with disabilities and students receiving services under Section 504. Key documents include:
- Continuous Education for Students with Disabilities: Direct Services: A guide to providing related and direct services to students with disabilities in distance learning environments. This guide complements the Partnerships for Success Guide, released in Fall 2019, which highlights professional development and direct services provider organizations that support students with disabilities through innovative approaches, like virtual services.
- IDEA Timelines and Documentation During Extended School Closure: Guidance and tools to help school systems maintain compliance with special education timelines and requirements, including up-to-date guidance from the U.S. Department of Education.
- Family Toolbox: Ways to Support Students with Disabilities During School Closures: A resource for families supporting students with disabilities during continuous learning, including tips and resources on organization, accommodations, and accessibility.
In addition, the toolkit released last week will be updated to help school systems expand accessibility and extend accommodations in continuous learning formats, officials say.