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An Update from Cape Cod Advocate

Now that things seem to be settling down into a new “normal.”  We wanted to take this opportunity to provide an update on what we are hearing relative to schooling in Massachusetts.

Commissioner David Riley released a letter to parents.Here’s what we gleaned from his lengthy letter:

Remote learning:  Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE) does not expect remote learning to replicate the traditional school day.  Schools will use remote learning tools as well as lo-tech opportunities to reinforce skills already taught this school year.  DESE believes that these opportunities for learning should be half the length of a regular school day. 

If your child is receiving specialized services, such as speech and language or counseling, you may be contacted by these therapists to provide on-line or video conference sessions.

For children who are receiving occupational or physical therapy, schools may be sending home activities to support your child’s skills.

If you have not heard from your school regarding these services, we encourage you to reach out to them.

MCAS testing:  MCAS testing and portfolio submissions are in limbo right now.  Governor Baker has submitted legislation and if passed, we fully expect Commissioner Riley to make a decision on whether MCAS testing will be waived.  We will continue to monitor and post when this information is available.

Special Education:   DESE confirmed that school districts must continue supporting students on IEPs, although services may look different than what your child received during a typical school week.  Again, if you have not heard from your service providers, please reach out to them or your school liaison.  

The issue of compensatory services (making up for missed educational opportunities) is an area that will be addressed on an individual basis and to be determined by the student’s team when school resumes.  If your child has begun to meet with their service providers, please keep a record of how often and the length of those sessions.  This information will be used when your child’s team meets to determine whether compensatory and/or additional services are needed.

We are envisioning that some children may experience regression in light of this new model of instruction.  If you have received a recent report card and/or IEP progress report(s), please keep those in a safe place.  This information will be instrumental in future discussions of IEP services.  

If you have an opportunity, consider writing a quick narrative of how you see your student managing assignments and life in general during this current environment.  

Although school is not in session, DESE has recommended that schools continue to work with special education parents to hold team meetings. If your child is in the midst of an evaluation, consider reaching out to your child’s team chair to determine next steps.

With the uncertainty around dates for resuming school, ESY services (summer programming) is still being worked out.  Again, we’ll continue to monitor and provide update as information is released. 

We appreciate that all these change can be overwhelming for both you and your child.  Do what is best for you and your family and continue to communicate with your district representative.  Please don’t feel guilty, we are all learning how to manage our expectations during these unchartered waters.  

At Cape Cod Advocate we continue to follow the emerging guidance very carefully and will work to keep you apprised of these developments.  Please monitor our social media or reach out to us directly.  We are here to help.  

Stay well,

Christine, Tina and Michel


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