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Planning To Reopen - Our Schools, DESE FAQ Special Education Qs 31-35

9/16/2020 (Permalink)

The way in which our children learn and our educators teach to begin this school year will be will challenging for both to say the least. Regardless of the reopening model chosen by your school district, all schools will be providing remote learning to some extent. Parents whose children require special education in the COVID-19 environment may be struggling with how these necessary changes may impact the ability of school districts to meet their children's needs.  The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has put together a FAQ to help parents navigate these uncharted waters. 

Please note supplemental information can be found on the Department's website at DESE COVID-19 Information and Resources.

NOTE: COVID-19 is highly transmissible. Individuals should follow these universal precautions regardless of the extent of mitigation needed:

  1. Follow healthy hygiene practices
  2. Stay at home when sick
  3. Practice social distancing 
  4. Use a cloth face covering (with some exceptions) in community settings when physical distancing cannot be maintained.

The current state of the COVID-19 pandemic is continually evolving. What is true today may not be tomorrow. At this time, the evidence suggests schools have not played a significant role in COVID-19 transmission and that children, particularly younger children, are less likely than adults to be infected with COVID-19.

As always, work with your local health officials to determine a set of strategies appropriate for your community’s situation.

(See our Planning to Reopen series of blogs for more information regarding CDCEPAFDAMass EEAMass DESE, and OSHA safety requirements). To review the administration's reopening guidance from the state click here. To view Governor Baker's full report click here).

The Massachusetts DESE recommends that districts and schools select high quality, and subject areas.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Special Education Related Services, and Models of Learning

Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) Information

31) How should schools and districts communicate with and send documents to the BSEA? 

During the COVID-19 crisis, the BSEA is maintaining minimal staff onsite. Therefore,administrative tasks that are not governed by timelines may take longer to fulfill (e.g., processing rejected IEPs). With regard to notice of rejected IEPs, if mailing or faxing documents is not feasible, notice of rejected IEPs can now be sent via email to BSEA at BSEArejectedIEPs@mass.gov. By contrast, hearing requests must still be faxed or sent via U.S. mail.

Consistent with BSEA Standing Order 20-02C, to ensure timely receipt of submissions during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hearing Officers and Mediators may permit the submission of correspondence and documents electronically, in addition to paper filing (via fax or regular mail). Electronic submissions to BSEA must be simultaneously copied to all other parties. All hearing requests must be submitted via mail, fax, or hand delivery.

32) Can parties obtain an extension of due process hearing timelines?

While the IDEA provides that a final decision on a due process complaint must be issued not later than 45 days after the expiration of the 30-day resolution period, a hearing officer can grant an extension of time beyond the required timelines at the request of either party for good cause. The COVID-19 emergency does not per se constitute good cause; the hearing officer will make a case by case determination on requests for extension including considerations that may be COVID-19 related.

33) Are BSEA proceedings, including mediations, occurring remotely or in person?

Effective March 15, 2020, and consistent with BSEA Standing Order 20-01C, the BSEA is conducting all proceedings remotely/virtually until further notice. This includes mediations, facilitated IEP meetings, settlement conferences, pre-hearing conferences, and hearings.The BSEA will contact parties as the date of the scheduled proceeding approaches to make necessary arrangements. Any request for change of date, location, or medium for holding due process hearings will continue to be considered on a case by case basis by the hearing officer.

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

34) Do schools and districts need to complete developmental screenings as outlined in 603 CMR 28.03(1)(d)?

Yes. Schools and districts are required to complete Preschool Screenings for three and four-year-old children and for all children who are of age to enter kindergarten. Such screening shall be designed to review a child's development and to assist in identification of those children who should be referred for an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services. The Department recognizes that schools and districts are conducting virtual interviews with families and caregivers to begin gathering information until in-person screening can occur, using current health and safety requirements.

35) Is there any specific guidance for submission of Child Outcome Summary (COS)/Indicator 7 data?

Data collection schedules and school or district cohort assignments are unchanged for Indicator 7/Early Childhood COS. Data for the COS will continue to be collected using the data collection schedule and cohort assignments. Schools and districts responsible for submitting COS data can expect to receive a letter by early October with information regarding data collection, timelines, and resources. 

As schools and districts are implementing their reopening plans, special education services and supports to students, ECSE programs can continue to report on each child’s outcomes for the COS. Meetings with team members to discuss progress and outcomes should be included in the planning process.

Additional resources for ECSE: 

Below are links to additional resources regarding special education and remote learning that may be helpful.

If you have concerns about the submission, please contact both;

Martha Daigle at Martha.S.Daigle@mass.gov  Carla Corina at corina.eval@outlook.com

to discuss individual circumstances.

NOTE: According to Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education areas of the school visited by the COVID-19 positive individual must be closed off and/or cleaned and disinfected. The area can be used 12 hours after cleaning/disinfecting has occurred.

While the administration continues to work with communities to implement best practices and protocols for reopening our schools we will continue to share with you guidance from the CDCEPAFDAMass EEAMass EECMass DESE, and OSHA and the Governor's office to follow as we prepare for the new school year.

Also, we at SERVPRO of Framingham know that not every community has access to the resources necessary to meet the strict cleaning guidelines to ensure a safe environment for our children. For those communities, we are here to help!

Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned

The Disaster Remediation Teams at SERVPRO of Framingham are specialists in cleaning services and we adhere to the highest cleaning and sanitation standards. We are prepared to clean and disinfect your schools, according to protocols set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We have years of experience in dealing with biological contaminants, and we will go beyond the scope of work of "normal daily cleaning". Call SERVPRO of Framingham today for a free consultation - (508) 370-4400.

All of us here at SERVPRO of Framingham want you and your loved ones to stay safe and know that we will make it through this together! Rest assured, we will continue to do our best to keep you up-to-date and informed!

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