During this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, our public schools need to show creativity and perseverance to minimize disruptions to learning. This is especially true for the most vulnerable students, including students with special needs, who stand to lose the most from an extended absence from school.

While Pennsylvania school buildings are closed for the remainder of the school year due to COVID-19, Governor Wolf signed a law requiring school districts to provide parents with written notice of an individualized plan to ensure a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for each student with special needs. The law also requires every school to make a good faith effort to offer continuity of education using alternative methods while schools are physically closed, and to post their plans for continuity of education online.

The School District of Philadelphia (SDP) has published an outline of its continuity of education plan on its website, as well as guidance on how it plans to comply with the state law and provide education remotely. SDP recently released a more comprehensive continuity of education plan describing how planned instruction will resume, beginning on May 4, 2020, using Google classroom. SDP’s plan modifies expectations for students and teachers in the new environment. For example, while assignments after May 4 may be graded, grades in the final term of the school year can only improve a student’s grade point average.

As of April 20, 2020, SDP has provided Digital Learning resources for all grade levels.

What does SDP’s Digital Learning Plan mean for students with special needs?

SDP has detailed its expectations for special education teachers to provide remote lessons, and staff-members are also expected to participate in virtual IEP meetings and to continue writing IEPs and evaluation reports. To help close the gap in digital access, SDP is loaning Chromebooks to families without a computer at home. SDP is also coordinating with internet service providers to provide free or low-cost WiFi access to facilitate remote learning.

Further information about SDP’s unfolding plans is being posted here, under the Remote Learning & Teaching tab.

Special education due process hearings will be conducted virtually.

Berney & Sang will continue to post information as we learn more.

Resources

We are also aware of the following public resources for parents:

The following resources are also available to parents:

And teachers have access to these resources too:

Parents should also consider contacting the organizations listed on our Helpful Organizations page.