What to Expect in Fall 2020

From our friends at FACT Oregon

Districts across Oregon are starting to release their 2020-21 school year plans under Oregon Department of Education and Oregon Health Authority guidance. As a parent, like me, you might be wondering what this could look like for your child, particularly if you have a student with an IEP. Here are some points to consider that we at FACT Oregon are researching and preparing for.

Who Decides the Fall Plan

Before we can really talk about what to expect, it’s important to understand how educational decisions are made in Oregon.

Oregon is a local-control state, meaning that the governing and management of public schools is largely conducted by elected or appointed representatives serving on governing bodies, like school boards, and are located in the communities served by the schools. Districts are still making decisions related to the current COVID-19 pandemic, but they must meet the criteria of the state’s stay-home order. The Oregon Department of Education is issuing guidance documents to schools and districts to help with their planning. Connect with your school district on social media, through their newsletters, and/or listen to board meetings to learn about your district’s plans.

Distance learning as we knew it in the spring is over.

Expect More Synchronous Learning

Recognizing that the 2020-21 school year will look different, many school boards are having meetings to develop and draft tentative models for the upcoming year. Some districts have already begun releasing their plans which may include: in-person learning with cohorts, hybrid learning (some in-person with cohorts. and some distance learning), and full-time comprehensive distance learning. Distance learning as we knew it in the spring is over. Whether your child attends part-time or full-time comprehensive distance learning, it should include synchronous learning, which means interactive, live learning all together. It may be virtual webinars or chat functions, but should include peers and be conducted in real time.  

Changes for Students Receiving Special Education Services

For students receiving special education services, there might be a change in how services are provided. Students with disabilities are protected under a federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. IDEA guarantees students with disabilities the right to a free appropriate public education or FAPE at no costs to them. That means no matter what education model your district chooses, they must provide FAPE to students enrolled in their district and who are eligible for special education services. This is the foundation of an IEP or Individual Education Program. If your child needs accommodations, modifications, or related services, it needs to be included in the IEP — regardless of where the child is accessing their education.

Prepare for Your Child’s IEP in the Fall

Because no two children are the same and no two families have the same needs, education will vary from family to family, school to school, neighborhood to neighborhood, and district to district. As a parent, you have valuable input to share about how to support your child in accessing their education to be a successful learner. 

You may want to request a meeting with your child’s IEP team, and prepare your written input. Create a one-page profile to provide to your child’s IEP case manager. Be sure to include your child’s hobbies, strengths, gifts and capacities, and what works for them to be successful. 

This might feel a little overwhelming or confusing, which is why FACT Oregon is available to help. Visit FACT Oregon’s website for trainings, templates, and COVID-19 specific resources, or connect with FACT Oregon Support and Resource Specialists, who are also parents, for 1:1 support or information through the FACT Oregon support line.

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