Navigating the COVID-19 Crisis
Get the latest information on COVID-19 and learn how special education administrators are navigating the pandemic in this informative presentation from the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE).
Facilitated by Phyllis Wolfram, Executive Director, CASE. Presented by Myrna Mandlawitz, CASE Policy Consultant; Kindel Mason, CASE President-Elect; Adam Leckie, CASE Publications Chair; Heath Peine, CASE Professional Development Chair; Erin Maguire, CASE President; Kevin Rubenstein, CASE Policy & Legislative Chair; and Julie Weatherly, Esq.
Four Priorities for Special Education
Focus on the safety, health, and welfare of students and staff members in your community.
Provide FAPE – Deliver services to as many students as you reasonably can in the best way you know-how.
Document your efforts; make sure documentation is focused, consistent, detailed and demonstrates a good faith effort to provide good services.
Compliance during the pandemic – IDEA wasn’t built for this.
An Update from Washington DC
Myrna Mandlawitz, CASE Policy Consultant provided an update on what’s going on in Washington DC.
Last week CASE did a briefing on Capitol Hill and did a webinar that reflected the letter that CASE / NASDSE sent to Congress and a letter sent to Secretary DeVos talking about the targeted and temporary flexibilities in IDEA.
She also provided details on the CARES funding that recently went out. The ESERF funding was released April 23rd, 2020 and it provides more than 13 billion that will go out to state education agencies then down to local school districts.
States have until July 1st, 2020 to apply for this money. The money is slated to go to K12 public schools and public charter schools and the money can be used retroactively to backfill for any expenses they’ve had since the state of emergency was declared on March 13th.
The Governor’s Education Emergency Relief Fund was also recently released and provides an additional 3 billion dollars, and the governors are looking at that as money that will fill gaps for K12 and higher education which has its own pot of money. The governor’s fund can also be used for non-public schools.
Services in Rural Districts during COVID-19
Kindel Mason, CASE President-Elect addressed challenges and provided insights on how to best provide services in rural districts during COVID-19.
He first established the strengths rural districts should capitalize on, specifically, the close relationships educators have with their families and community, the ability rural districts have to be agile, and make decisions quickly. He also emphasized that being agile also provides districts the ability to make corrections quickly. He added that the final strength rural districts have is the “Get it Done” mindset.
He then addressed the main challenges that rural districts are facing. First, he reminded everyone of the importance of focusing on the safety, health, and welfare of the students and staff members in their community. Then he discussed the challenge of the digital divide, and how geographically it can be hard for communities to get the reliable phone and internet services they need. He explained how his district is working on overcoming this challenge is by working with AT&T to get hot spots in the community, and by placing antennas on people’s houses to make the internet more accessible to families that might be farther away. In connection with the digital divide, one way his district has been addressing this problem is by using paraprofessionals to help make meals for students and organizing their efforts to deliver learning materials while they’re delivering food to the students.
He then addressed the main challenges that rural districts are facing. Including the lack of reliable network services, establishing how to deliver learning materials, being understaffed, parents and students working, taking care of extended family, and the pressure to reopen schools.
Wrapping It All Up
- Provide FAPE the best you can. The key is providing individual distance learning plans, meeting families and students where they are, and considering low tech options.
- Document, document, document. Ask staff to keep good parent logs. Tell your story with written notice, why are you doing what you’re doing.
Supporting your Superintendent Through COVID-19
Adam Leckie, CASE Publications Chair; gave insights on how to best support your superintendent through COVID-19.
ABIDE by the 4 “Cs”
- Ensure a consistent and clear channel of communication
- Be honest about challenges
- Understand your Superintendent’s perspective
- Be adamant about the need to be at the table
- Look for opportunities
- Use the complexity of Special Education
- Be the expert
- Be informed
- Leverage the national and state networks (CASE and local units)
- Be proactive and anticipate challenges
- Showcase your innovative solutions
- Actively Share your strategies
Use of MTSS for Return to School Planning
Heath Peine, CASE Professional Development Chair; gave 5 key questions to consider when moving forward to help improve your system and the impact you’ll have on student learning.
Five Key Questions
1. Where are our students in their learning?
2. Where do we want our students to be?
3. How can we close the gap from where they are now, to where we need them to be?
4. Are we on target to meet our goals?
5. Did our efforts work for each learner, and what can we learn from the successes or struggles?
- Webinar Slides: Click here
- CASE/CEC – COVID-19 Considerations for Special Education Administrators webinar series: Watch here