When Renay got word on Friday that her district was closing, there were still a lot of questions, but here we are on Monday, running a blog post.
Firstly, we hope you and your family are safe. Above all else. We here at ParaEducate are now doing as much as we can via social media and private email consultations. It is not the same nor is it a complete solution. However, it is what we have for the time being and so we are quite happy to keep it this way for the foreseeable future. Some of the students we support have compromised immune systems or are medically fragile. COVID-19 has so many parts that are still unknown, it is really better to err on the side of safety first. Not just for our students we support but their elderly grandparents who may live with the family or their very young siblings.
Firstly, we hope you and your family are safe. Above all else.ParaEducate
But ParaEducate supports special education, what does that have to do with COVID-19?
There are big pieces of special education, regardless of Inclusive Education or Special Day Class that matter in the world of IEP (Individual Education Plan/Program). The biggest that is important at this moment is something called FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education). FAPE is the part of the education law that holds schools accountable for providing resources appropriate to the student. While housed within the district facilities, this means a variety of things, but it centers on teachers that know their materials, educators that help the student navigate their understanding of the material, and systems to support the student through the various services the student might receive.
Some districts are responding to this by having zero production. Everything stops right now. Thusly, students who have an IEP or a [section] 504, are not losing out on minutes because school is not in session. Other districts have been told to provide packets of work for the missed days the student will be out. The challenge here is the question of whether or not a student would be able to navigate the packets of work or have circumstances to navigate the work they have been provided. Families of students with disabilities just might not have the resources to support those packets whether it will be navigating their student’s daily needs, or juggling family demands, especially if that family member is a member of the community that is working.
We would like to take the time to remind our readers to follow their district’s guidelines at this time. This is unfortunately not a time to go around breaking rules or bending rules for a student or their family. Be careful about what you offer others professionally. This is not a time to be accused of playing favorites (among students), nor is it time to be offering advice about things that may be happening or may not be happening in your district.
The nearly countrywide shut down has not been seen in over a hundred years, and certainly, shutdowns are not a part of modern life as Americans understand it. And definitely, the conversation previously has never included people with disabilities, children with disabilities receiving education, or the amount of distancing that are being asked of by our officials in the United States. Please follow their instructions. Please get medical help if you need it. Please encourage your districts to leave the kitchens open daily for students who are on free and reduced lunch to get their lunches as well.
While We’re On COVID-19
Like the rest of the country, there is a little bit of fear and there is a little bit of gratitude going around. We are grateful for the custodial staff, the medical teams, journalists, and grocery store employees who are working hard to make sure that the rest of the general public have access to the necessities.
What we know is that COVID-19 is a virus. Some people get a lot of symptoms. Many do not.
Things to be teaching our students
- There are a TON of good social stories about COVID-19 and why schools are shut down. Google away, some came out sooner than others.
- If your district is not closed for the moment, or if your students are prepared to discuss COVID-19 and its global implications, remember a few tips for talking about hard things:
- Above all else, never start the conversation. Let the student ask you. Respond back and find out what the student thinks they know. Look on reputable web sites, at this time we still suggest the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), and WHO (World Health Organization).
- Use facts to demonstrate to your students. There are video simulations from the Washington Post that show how the infection spreads (dots) in general but not COVID-19
- Be honest with your students about things that matter. It is sad people lose their life over disease. Our medical professionals (Nurses, Doctors, and Pharmacists) are all working hard to help those who are the sickest at this time.
Economic Responsibility in Times of Social Distancing
ParaEducate is a small business. But unlike a restaurant business, ParaEducate can weather this shut down fairly well.
Please support your local economy by ordering out at some restaurants.
As a country, COVID-19 will be making the rounds for at least the remainder of the year. When we return to life as we know it, please consider supporting ParaEducate by buying a book or choosing one of our lesson packets found online.
One more note
Paraeducate intended to have Spring Break in April. And we are going to keep our “spring break” then. For the next few weeks, we will be working on some backlogged publications hoping to make progress. ParaEducate will take a two-week break on April 13, returning April 27.
Thank you, stay safe, take care of each other.
Do you have any comments about this week’s blog? Do you have a question for us? Would you like to have an opportunity to pilot some materials at your campus? Find ParaEducate online here, here, here, here, and on our website. ParaEducate is a company providing materials, information, and strategies for people working in special education inclusion settings for grades K-12. ParaEducate, the blog, is published during the academic school year on Mondays, unless a holiday or announced day off. ParaEducate shares their findings at conferences, through their books, and their academic adaptations.