Support of Students with Disabilities in 2020-21

PSD is committed to compliance with the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act of Colorado (ECEA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
 

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The needs of students with disabilities are of the utmost importance and PSD’s Integrated Services (IS) team has been working diligently to ensure equity and access for students in the 2020-21 school year.

IS staff collectively spent hundreds of hours throughout spring and summer 2020 identifying teaching and learning resources and materials, personal protective equipment (PPE), assistive student technology, and instructional strategies. Ongoing professional development opportunities helped IS staff (special education teachers, occupational and physical therapists, psychologists, speech/language clinicians, paraprofessionals and more) enhance instructional strategies, identify best practices to support students with disabilities for any phase of learning.  


Supporting students with disabilities

Here's what you can expect in each phase of education
 

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 Integrated Services Phase 1
Remote Learning at Home  

  • Individual Education Plan (IEP) team meetings will be held when they are due, and in a remote setting. 
  • Teams will communicate with families about how services will be provided to their student to address the goals and objectives in a student’s IEP. Please note some services may look different in a remote education.  
  • Each child's best resource is their school-based team. Teams at schools  know students and their needs, as well as their families. 
  • Expect that students with disabilities will participate in general education like other students in their general education classroom utilizing the remote learning supports and services discussed with their school-based IS team. 

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Integrated Services Phase 2
Mostly Remote Learning with Limited In-Person Check-Ins 

  • Some students with disabilities may receive in-person support.  
  • Teams will communicate with families about how services will be provided to their student to address the goals and objectives in a student’s IEP.
  • Services and supports will not look the same for every student and will be based on a student’s individual needs. 
  • IS staff members and students will follow health safety protocols, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that follows state and county guidance and was selected specifically to serve the needs of IS teams and students. 

 

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Integrated Services Phase 3 
Hybrid In-School/Remote Learning

  • Students with disabilities will participate in general education like other students in their general education classroom utilizing the remote and in-person learning supports and services discussed with their school-based IS team. 
  • Teams will communicate with families about how services will be provided to their student to address the goals and objectives in a student’s IEP.
  • Services and supports will not look the same for every student and will be based on individual needs. 
  • IS staff members and students will follow health safety protocols, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that follows state and county guidance and was selected specifically to serve the needs of IS teams and students. 

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Integrated Services Phase 4
Schools Open with Safety Protocols
 

  • Most students with disabilities will attend school just as they did previously. 
  • Students with disabilities who spend the majority of their school day in general education classes will follow the same schedule as non-disabled peers in their identified cohort, while also engaging in the services identified in their IEP.  
  • Services and supports will not look the same for every student and will be based on individual needs. 
  • IS staff members and students will follow all health safety protocols, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) that follows state and county guidance and was selected specifically to serve the needs of Integrated Services teams and students. 

 

 Virtual learning option for students with disabilities

To remain in compliance with the ECEA rules during remote learning due to COVID-19, the IEP team will follow these procedures: 

Exceptional Children's Educational Act

The Exceptional Children’s Educational Act of Colorado (ECEA) indicates that a change of placement occurs when a student transfers from a brick-and-mortar school to the virtual learning option or to an online school due to COVID-19,  requiring the IEP team to conduct an evaluation in accordance with the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) criteria related to a change of placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).  

Ref: ECEA: 4.03(8)(b)(ii)(A)(III) Significant Change of Placement
Learn more on the CDE website here.

  • If the parents of a student on a current IEP request virtual learning (e.g., learning delivered in an online format) for their student during the COVID-19 pandemic, the school will initiate the re-evaluation process by requesting consent for evaluation from the parent(s) or guardian(s).  
  • The school-based team will conduct the evaluation and hold an IEP meeting to determine if the student’s special education and related service needs can be provided in a virtual learning format. 
  • A special education teacher from the virtual learning format will attend the IEP meeting along with the student’s current special education case manager and all other required members of the IEP team.  
  • The student's building-based special education case manager will consult with the virtual learning special education teacher regarding specific student needs. 
  • If parents request their student return to learning in a brick-and-mortar building, the school-based team will again conduct an evaluation and hold an IEP meeting to change services accordingly. A re-evaluation will also be required if the school district discontinues the virtual learning format.  

 

Questions and Answers

Remote Learning, Phases and Support

My child was unsuccessful in the remote learning environment during the spring and needs in-person learning. How do the PSD phases impact their access to school? 

  • Integrated Services will follow the PSD phase for learning based on health and safety guidelines.  
  • Integrated Services staff have thoughtfully planned for each of the phases and will continue to be provided professional development opportunities for instruction.  
  • If a team determines based on data that a student’s plan needs to change, an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting will occur.  

For information about the PSD phases, visit the 2020-2021 school year web page. 

Can my child come to school more days than other students? 

Integrated Services follows PSD's phase for learning based on health and safety guidelines.  
 

Will my child be able to participate in their general education classes? 

Your child will be able to participate in their general education classes in each of the phases for learning.  
Access to general education will be based on the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).  
 

How will my child receive related services when PSD is in Phase 3 and 4? 

Using health and safety protocols, students may at times receive specialized instruction and related services through in-person sessions and/or online technology or “teletherapy.” 
 

During remote education, how will one-to-one and specialized instruction occur? 

Staff worked diligently this past summer learning best practices and planning for each PSD phase of education. They will continue to train in remote learning methods and strategies. 
 

During remote education, can families have therapists or paraeducators come to their home (OT, PT, SLP)?  

From Aug. 24 through at least Oct. 16, PSD is working in a remote learning format. During this opening phase, students will learn from home and staff will not have students in the school nor will they go into their homes. 

 

Is the district considering small in-person group options for students with disabilities who cannot engage in remote learning? 

If PSD moves to Phase 2, which is mostly remote education with some limited small in-person group options, some students identified by PSD will be able to come to school for limited in-person instruction and support.  

Remote learning support with transitions, social skills and paraprofessional support

How will students with disabilities who struggle with transitions be supported by teachers in a remote environment?  
The social emotional health and wellness of our students is a priority always and even more so now. Connecting with students first will be critical, and Integrated Services staff will take the time to connect with students in a variety of ways in a remote environment.   

 

What steps are being taken to support social skills related Individualized Education Plan goals? 
Depending upon the needs of a student, social skills may be addressed by the teacher, speech/language clinician, or other service professional. 

 

In a remote learning environment, what will paraprofessional support look?
For each individual student, this would be a discussion with the student’s school team. Remote learning is different than in-school learning; therefore, a team discussion regarding supports and schedules for the student is most appropriate. 

My child has a difficult time using a laptop computer.  What else can they use? 

Speak with your student’s special education case manager for possible technology alternatives for your child.  Integrated Services staff collectively spent hundreds of hours throughout spring and summer 2020 identifying needed teaching and learning resources and materials, assistive student technology, and instructional strategies. 
 

Will schools provide adaptive equipment (i.e. fidgets, manipulatives) that IS students would have access to in school and that are outlined in student accommodations? 

Parents/guardians should discuss with their student’s team if their student should have these items to help them access their education while learning remotely. 
 

I have questions about PSD Virtual, who do I reach out to?

 Please visit PSD Virtual’s website for information, including a FAQ section that answers most questions.
 

Is IS/PSD looking at other districts that have already begun in-person schooling for some special education students as a model? 

Yes, although, PSD is different in that the district is making decisions based on guidance and orders from the local public health department. 

Will my child receive bussing this year? 

Please visit PSD’s transportation website for more information regarding bussing for this school year.
 

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), Assessments

How will my student’s progress on their IEP be measured? 

Progress on goals and objectives will be measured through progress monitoring methods, including formal tools, observation, parent input, etc.  

My child is due for a re-evaluation this coming fall. What will that look like if we are not in the school setting? 

If students are not in the school setting, your child’s IEP team will move forward with requesting consent for evaluation and conduct the evaluation through virtual assessments, as appropriate.  
 

Will IEP team meetings be held in-person or at school? 

Individual Education Plan (IEP) team meetings have been and will continue to be held when they are due, either in-person or remotely based on how the district is operating (in-person or remotely) at the time. 
 

How does an Individualized Education Plan address working parents? It focuses on the child and the child’s needs only. 

The IEP is intended to address a student’s special education needs related to the student’s disability.    
 

If assessments show that virtual learning is “not working” for my student, what do we do?  

If a student is not making progress on their goals and objectives, the student’s Individualized Education Program team will meet and discuss changes that could occur to assist the student in making progress on goals and objectives.   
 

Health and Safety

What if my child will not wear a mask? 

Some students may not be able to wear a mask or handle the mask independently due to their unique circumstances. Staff will work with the student to utilize face shields and/or social distancing. Staff will promote additional health and safety measures, utilize personal protective equipment, and collaborate on effective protocols to ensure the safety and health of your child and the staff. 

If it continues to be difficult for your child, an IEP team meeting may be called to discuss appropriate accommodations, modifications, and changes to the IEP to ensure student/staff health and safety.  
 

What safety measures are being taken to keep my child safe? (refer to PSD health & safety guidelines) 

Please visit PSD’s Health and Safety in 2020-21 web page for more information. 

Guidelines

What state or federal guidance and laws is PSD’s Integrated Services Department following? 

PSD staff are continuously monitoring and diligently working to ensure compliance with the Exceptional Children’s Educational Act of Colorado (ECEA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district is committed to meeting the individual needs of each student.   

Why are there differences between counties within the same state? Aren’t they accountable to the same laws? 

School districts are allowed local control under the state law. 
 

Contacts for assistance and additional questions


Please reach out to the school first. The school-based team is the best place to begin with questions. If you need more information about the school, please contact the principal. If you need further information regarding special education, please contact one of these district-level administrators:

Director of Integrated Services Sarah Belleau

Integrated Services Office Manager
Sarah Zahakis | 970.490.3233 | szahakis@psdschools.org

  • Assistant Director- Alternative Programs
    Aaron Vogt, 970.490.3213 
  • Assistant Director - FCHS Feeder Zone
    Cori Ann Stepek, 970.490.3442 
  • Assistant Director - FRHS Feeder Zone
    Teresa Ashton, 970.490.3392 
  • Assistant Director - PHS Feeder Zone
    Whitney Bennett-Clear, 970.490.3224
  • Assistant Director - RMHS Feeder Zone
    Nick Smosna, 970.490.3223 

 

 

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