Collaboration is Key for Emergency Remote Learning
Community Consolidated School District #89
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Glen Ellyn, Illinois
In Community Consolidated School District #89 in Glen Ellyn Illinois, close collaboration between general educators and special educators helped ensure continuity of instruction during school building closures while meeting the needs of students with disabilities in the virtual classroom. For example, a special educator is embedded in each middle school virtual classroom section. This set up has allowed for educators to collaborate more easily, helped special educators better understand the expectations and assignments in the general education classroom, and increased the opportunity for special education teachers to implement Tier 1 supports and built-in assistive technology supports with multiple students. This further led to the implementation of more accessible digital instruction for all students, with many of the built-in accessibility features being implemented universally for all students in the classroom.
Eureka Union School District
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Eureka Union School District in Eureka, California began providing specialized distance learning plans for students on the first day of school building closures. The district highlights close collaboration among school and district staff and ongoing communication and engagement with families as critical elements in ensuring continuity of learning and meeting the needs of students with disabilities in remote learning environments. During the first few weeks of school building closures, service providers connected with each family to determine needs and identify how best to support students and their families. Teams trialed services and supports through a variety of formats and checked in every few weeks with needs surveys to gather feedback on distance learning and recalibrate as needed. In classroom sessions and virtual meetings, teachers, paraeducators, service providers (speech and language, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and adapted physical education), and school mental health professionals worked closely together to address learning, provide services, and support social and emotional health needs.
Jenks Public Schools
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Jenks Public Schools in Jenks, Oklahoma responded to the needs of students in their district by prioritizing close connections with families. A committee of special education teachers worked together to create choice boards and adaptive activities to help meet the needs of students with significant disabilities, with specific parent support resources built in. IEP and 504 teams worked together to identify the assistive technology and accessible educational materials needed by students in distance learning and coordinated distribution to families. Additionally, district and school staff worked together to connect parents with resources to implement accommodations for students and distance learning supports. To ensure continuity of learning for families without Internet access, Jenks Public Schools teachers arranged conference calls with families and internet service providers, providing interpreters as needed and assisting them in completing forms to get no cost internet.
Wethersfield School District
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As Wethersfield Public Schools navigated the uncharted waters of distance learning, educators prioritized equity and provided continuous learning opportunities to the greatest extent possible to all learners. Modeled after their typical data-based decision-making cycle, the district formed student engagement teams to connect quickly with families and students to provide supports as needed. A team of administrators, teachers and families worked together to identify needs and provide appropriate devices. Because of this collaborative outreach and device deployment, the district saw improvement in the engagement levels of their high need students. Once device access gaps were addressed, special educators and behavior specialists were able to work together to develop a coaching model for parents that focused on strategies for supporting their children in remote learning classrooms, addressing challenges, and acquiring skills using distance learning technologies. The team-based approach to using data to rapidly respond to the needs of students and their families enabled the district to address equity gaps in technology access and then focus on fostering engagement and providing continuity of learning for students with disabilities.
Loudoun County Public Schools
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Loudoun County Public Schools has always known that collaboration among different departments is a key to success and the importance of collaborating was critical to supporting their students in remote learning during the closure of school buildings. The district took three immediate steps. First, curriculum supervisors from the Department of Instruction led interdisciplinary teams to curate content to provide to families. These teams included personnel from the Office of Special Education to ensure a focus on accessible materials to meet the needs of all learners. Second, resources were organized in a fashion most consumable to families and a Continuity of Education website was created to share resources by grade level. Resources pertaining to accessibility were prioritized and prominently displayed at the top of each site. Third, a site specific to special education was created to share resources for populations with specific needs such as adapted curriculum, augmentative/alternative communication, blind and visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing, variable fine and gross motor abilities, early childhood, specialized reading and math, and transition services. As a result of these collaborative activities, families were able to readily access targeted resources critical to support their child’s individual learning needs during a time of remote schooling.