APRIL 15, 2020
Westminster Public Schools Response to Coronavirus A commitment to community safety and support for anytime/anywhere learning.
To: Katy Anthes-Commissioner Colorado Department of Education From: Dr. Pamela Swanson-Superintendent Westminster Public Schools As you are well aware, we are all facing an unprecedented challenge to contain a global health threat that is putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk. Our coordinated response is truly a matter of life and death. This report provides you an overview of how Westminster Public Schools has responded to this pandemic and details our continuing efforts to provide needed physical and emotional support for our students and assist them in continuing their education away from the classroom. This has been an “all hands-on deck” approach that will continue to be modified and improved upon over time. WPS is working hard to bridge the gap for our students, staff and community as we move through uncharted territory. This letter constitutes Westminster Public Schools’ formal application to request a waiver for student contact and instructional time.
Dr. Pamela Swanson Superintendent of Schools
TABLE OF CONTENTS ANYTIME/ANYWHERE LEARNING 4 1. BOE REVISED POLICY ON E-LEARNING 6 2. DISTRICT ANYTIME/ANYWHERE RESOURCE PAGE 8 3. WEEKLY COMMUNICATIONS FROM JOHN E. FLYNN A MARZANO ACADEMY 9 4. STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE 15 STUDENT AND FAMILY SUPPORT 22 EQUITY IN A TIME OF CRISIS 23 GUIDANCE FROM USDOE AND OCR IN COMPARISON WITH WPS RESPONSE
WPS SPECIAL EDUCATION GUIDANCE 27 TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN 33 COMMUNICATION 34 THE FUTURE 35
ANYTIME/ANYWHERE LEARNING The district’s Competency Based System (CBS) is premised on the idea that students are in charge of their own learning and advance to the next learning level only upon showing mastery of a learning topic. This learning can happen anytime/anywhere meaning that even when students are away from the classroom, they can continue to advance their education. To meet the urgency of this crisis, WPS quickly expanded its capabilities and our students and staff will be better for it post-crisis. Because of the passage of a mill levy override that guaranteed one to one technology for all students, WPS is able to send a Chromebook home with all students so they can continue their work with virtual support from their classroom instructors. Because we are fully engaging our students in extended learning before the spring break and do not want to lose our momentum, stipends are being offered to teachers who will work a couple of hours a day through the break to continue providing students with content. Chromebooks had traditionally been used at the school during the school day, but on the Friday before the school closures, WPS began distributing Chromebooks to all students who filled out a Chromebook Agreement acknowledging receipt of the device and taking responsibility for its proper use and care. The distribution continued the week of March 16. The logistics of getting a device into the hands of students was a major undertaking and quite frankly, required a shift in thinking for many in the district. Our teachers, already committed to CBS, embraced the new challenge of creating entire lesson plans and activities for students so they can continue learning at home. WPS uses the EMPOWER content management system in which teachers are already building content and “playlist” for students. Empower also allows students and parents to engage with learning topics and track progress remotely. Many parents, who until now, have not taken full advantage of EMPOWER are quickly getting up to speed. To assist in this process, WPS has created a new webpage that provides information for parents about accessing EMPOWER and unleashing the potential of online learning. The page includes links to other educational activities and programs. WPS is well aware that not all of its students have access to the internet and we are pursuing options to support those families. The Westminster Public Schools Foundation has begun a fundraising campaignEducation Security Fund, to purchase internet hot spots for families who don’t have connectivity. WPS is also sharing information from COMCAST about its 60-day free internet program.
ANYTIME/ANYWHERE LEARNING Waiver from Instructional Hours and Days Requirements To comply with CDE requirement to obtain a waiver from requirements for instructional hours and days, WPS is providing the following documents:
1. WPS Anytime/Anywhere resource page
2. Weekly communications from John E. Flynn A Marzano Academy
3. WPS Standard Operating Procedure for monitoring student engagement
4. WPS Board of Education revised policy on E-learning
1. BOE REVISED POLICY ON E-LEARNING Book:
Board of Education Policies
Digital Extended Learning Days
Legal References: 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq; 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq; C.R.S. 22-54-101 et seq; 1 C.C.R 301-39-2.06. Adopted:
March 24, 2020
April 14, 2020
Westminster Public Schools (the “District”) is committed to providing all students with rigorous educational services. However, the District recognizes that emergency conditions may interfere with the provision of such educational processes from time to time. The District is committed to providing educational services to students during such emergencies. The District has actively fostered the use of technology in the classroom for several years and has striven to ensure that each student has access to a digital device on a daily basis. As a result of these efforts all District students and teachers are well-versed in the use of digital-based learning tools. Accordingly, the District has determined that it shall allow students to actively engage in the educational process when our community members cannot access our school buildings through a digital Extended Learning model, which shall ensure that students receive the required minimum number of instructional minutes with their teachers by utilizing a remote virtual format for instructional delivery. The digital Extended Learning model shall comply with the following: I. Teacher-Student Contact Teachers and students will engage in Internet-based communication during digital Extended Learning days, as defined in the accompanying procedure, as follows: ● ● ●
Teachers shall provide students their learning objectives and directions electronically no later than 10 a.m. on digital Extended Learning days. Students and parents will be able to contact teachers electronically for help and questions during the digital Extended Learning day. If students cannot access electronic communication or the required materials during the digital Extended Learning day, they will have one week to complete the work assigned by their teacher. Teachers shall have the discretion to allow more time for students on a caseby-case basis.
II. Student Engagement In a Competency Based System, students have the opportunity to engage in their own learning at their own pace. Students set individual learning goals with their teachers and demonstrate competency in a variety of ways. All students are required to engage in remote learning when circumstances require the use of Extended Learning. The natural student consequence for not Page 1 of 2
engaging regularly in remote learning is that the student will not level up until the work is completed. Engagement will be measured in accordance with procedures set forth by the District’s Superintendent or his/her designee. III. Access A. Students without Internet and Hardware Access away from School ● ●
The District shall determine which students cannot access the Internet and/or do not have the necessary device away from school for the purposes of digital Extended Learning days. The District shall work with students and their families on a case-by-case basis as necessary to ensure that they have equitable access to instructional materials and devices.
B. Special Populations ●
● ● ●
The District shall continue to meet all the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act during digital Extended Learning days by continuing to provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) consistent with the need to protect the health, safety and well-being of students with disabilities and those individuals providing education, specialized instruction and related services to these students. The guarantee to FAPE, as appropriate, may come in the form of distance instruction provided virtually, online or telephonically. The District shall provide appropriate accommodations to students with Individualized Learning Plans (IEPs). Students who have IEPS and students who are English-language learners shall receive appropriate supplemental materials to participate in digital Extended Learning Days. Students who have disabilities hindering their use of digital learning shall receive appropriate supplemental material to participate in Extended Learning days.
Page 2 of 2
2. DISTRICTâ€™S ANYTIME/ANYWHERE RESOURCE PAGE
3. WEEKLY COMMUNICATIONS FROM JOHN E. FLYNN A MARZANO ACADEMY
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy March 16, 2020 Dear Flynn Community, I want to apologize upfront for the lengthy newsletter. There is a lot to communicate and I want to ensure every family has the necessary information regarding our school closure. Please read below for details as they stand now. How long will Flynn a Marzano Academy be closed? It is understood that the COVID-19 pandemic is a true public health threat, and everyone, including schools are being asked to act in unprecedented ways. At this time Westminster Public Schools and by extension Flynn a Marzano Academy will be closed through at least March 30th. With this said, we are anticipating the closure might easily extend beyond that date. We realize that school closures can place undue challenges for families; both in relation to our daily meal program, as well as with childcare needs. These realities are not lost on us, and I assure you that Dr. Swanson and the WPS Board of Education are working closely with other school districts, the Colorado Department of Education, the governor’s office, and state/county health departments to determine the earliest possible date for our schools to reopen. It is our desire to do this as soon as possible, but not before it is deemed safe to do so. Once available, I will send out Newsletters with updates through our usual robo calls/texts and email notification systems. Please also check the district website (www.westminsterpublicschools.org) for general information, as well as (MyWPS.org/Coronavirus) for pertinent information as we navigate the next few weeks. How will my student(s) continue their education while at home? Many parents are wondering how their student(s) will continue their education at home. Here in WPS, we are fortunate to have Empower Learning, which in addition to our gradebook, is also an online learning platform. Teachers will be posting daily lessons every scheduled school day by 10:00a. Please see the attached PDFs titled “Helping your students in Empower_Student”, “What you should work on in Empower (Extended Learning)_Student”, and “Completing Work in Empower_Student” for detailed instructions on how to access these extended learning assignments from home. There will be student work associated with each lesson, as well as take home assessments for students to complete to apply the daily learnings. In addition to this, last week your student brought home a sheet of paper with their username and passwords for all of the district’s online learning sites (IXL, RAZ-Kids, Wonders, etc). Please use these resources as well as others that are not district used, but still good like www.khanacademy.org. We also
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy
encourage parents to read with their children daily, play board games as a family, and any other type of educational or brain stimulation activity that gets kids thinking. Will there still be a meal program during the closure? Westminster Public Schools will still be providing daily meals for students. Beginning today, Nutrition Services will provide pick up meals for families Monday through Friday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm at Westminster High School, Ranum Middle School, Shaw Heights Middle School and Scott Carpenter Middle School. This program will continue as long as students are away from school. See below for further details: Meals will be dispersed at drive-up locations in the parking lots of those buildings. We ask that patrons remain in their cars. The meals are available for all children ages 18 and under. Children must be present for a meal to be provided. CDE/USDA emergency feeding regulations and HACCP food safety practices will be strictly adhered to What if I don’t have internet service at my home? Comcast is offering 60 days of complimentary internet services for households that request it during the COVID-19 outbreak. Please use the link below for information: https://www.wxyz.com/news/national/coronavirus/comcast-offering-internet-essentials-package-freefor-60-months-during-coronavirus-outbreak
A quick closing note I know times of extreme uncertainty like this can be scary. None of us truly understand the actual ramifications of what is occurring, and I wish I had something reassuring to say. All that I do know is we will get through this, as a school community, a country, and as a human race. Flynn intends to continue to be the central hub for our community, so please don’t hesitate to reach out with concerns, questions, or needs. We are here to help, even in the limited capacity we are forced to operate under now. Stay safe, take care of yourselves, and respect the social distancing mandates put forth by our local and national officials.
Dr. Kosena Brian Kosena, Ed.D. Principal firstname.lastname@example.org
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy │ 8731 Lowell Blvd., Westminster, CO 80031 Phone: 303 428-2161 │ Fax: 303 657-3843 │ www.westminsterpublicschools.org
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy
April 2, 2020 Dear Flynn Community, First off, I hope this finds your Falcon Family doing well. These times are strange indeed. Reflecting on the challenges my own family has experienced as we adapt to our “new normal”, I wish each of you the very best and hope that this letter finds your family adapting to your “new normal” too. Governor Polis announced yesterday an extension of the statewide stay-at-home order until April 30th. This order extended all public schools’ closure until at least that date. Westminster Public Schools will continue to follow the guidance issued by the Colorado Department of Education regarding when to reopen schools. My hope is this will be soon, however it is prudent to begin planning for the possibility that school closures could extend into the summer months. If this were to happen, the earliest we would reconvene is mid-August. Sigh. “Hope for the best, but plan for the worst” I encourage the Flynn Community to embody this motto by staying hopeful for a quick return to our “old normal”, while also considering what an extended closure might look like for your family. I’ve asked teachers to hold daily live virtual class meetings for as long as we remain closed. I encourage your student to attend these. These classes provide students the ability to interact with one another, and of course their teachers too. Even though virtual classes are not a replacement of face-to-face learning, this time is still valuable for your student to participate in, especially since the more students who login, the richer these virtual communities become. These daily meetings are also a time for your student (or you) to ask the teacher specific questions that might arise as we continue to transition our school to a home-bound online platform. Remember, “Hoping for the best, but planning for the worst” is our new motto. Educators use the term “The Summer Slide” to describe the learning losses we see many students experience over summer break. In some cases, months of re-learning are required for a student to recover from the Summer Slide. Knowing this, I am deeply concerned about the academic impacts this extended school closure might have on our kids. And, although WPS’ competency-based system is uniquely designed to help mitigate this reality, the homeschooling efforts families make now will dramatically lessen the “COVID-19 Slide” we are expecting to see.
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy � 8731 Lowell Blvd., Westminster, CO 80031
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy
As a school, we are committed to providing high-quality daily lessons for students to continue their learning. We will also continue family outreach to those students not engaging in the online learning. This is mainly to ensure everything is all right, but also to help troubleshoot any technology or access issues families might be experiencing. However, educating children has always been a partnership between the school and family, and now more than ever, this partnership matters. During these “new normal” times, a child’s academic gains or losses will be directly impacted by the level of family involvement. I know you are not homeschool teachers. I know math is taught differently today than before. And, I know helping your student through these next few weeks/months will not be easy. But, I’m asking for your help to ensure we continue to educate our children. Flynn is committed to making the schoolfamily partnership stronger than ever before, and if we do, our students win. As I mentioned in my last newsletter, I am a dad myself and now have my own child home all-day, everyday. I know the challenges this presents, let alone the time-constraints of balancing life’s existing responsibilities with new one’s. It isn’t easy, but there is an end in sight. We will get back to our “old normal” soon enough, making our efforts today that much more important. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the efforts your family is making now, and I hope this letter finds your family safe and healthy.
Dr. Kosena Brian Kosena, Ed.D. Principal email@example.com
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy � 8731 Lowell Blvd., Westminster, CO 80031 Phone: 303 428-2161 │ Fax: 303 657-3843 � www.westminsterpublicschools.org
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy
April 9, 2020 Dear Flynn Community, Well, another week has gone by and so too another flurry of news and updates that need to be shared. I have been receiving great questions from families and sometimes concerns too. In an effort to keep you well informed, these newsletters have grown long in the past month. I apologize for this, but would rather err on the side of too much information, versus too little. So, bear with me! First off, I hope this finds you and your family safe and weathering the COVID-19 storm. Following the news, it appears we are in a critical phase of suppressing the pandemic, making our social distancing efforts more important than ever. I read recently that computer modeling is not projecting the same grim numbers as before, providing evidence that the stay-at-home measures are working. This is great news! It gives me hope to know when push-came-to-shove, we as a community (and human race) stepped up to protect our neighbors and ourselves. This did not come without sacrifice though. Toward this end, let’s talk about WPS’s continued school closure. Last Friday, school districts across the metro area made the difficult decision to remain closed for the rest of the ’19-’20 school year. I, like the rest of you, was devastated to learn this news. I was anxiously anticipating our return to face-to-face learning. Unfortunately, this was not meant to be. Knowing the positive impacts of the stay-at-home order and that the Center for Disease Control is projecting Colorado’s COVID-19 contagion rate to peak in late April, the decision to keep schools closed was understandable and responsible. With this said, it does change some realities for us. As I mentioned in last week’s newsletter, with the negative impact of the “COVID-19 Slide” in mind, now more than ever the family/school partnership is essential. In order to not fall academically behind, every student must continue his or her education while at home. Flynn will keep providing high-quality daily lessons, as well as class meetings for your child to engage in. We believe online learning and virtual face-to-face interactions with teachers to be critically important as we move through the rest of this school year, but this can’t happen without your support. I’m happy to report that as of yesterday, April 8th Flynn had 94% of students actively participating within our online learning platform. This is fantastic! But, we still have work to do. Until we have 100% active participation, we can’t rest. I’ve spoken in previous newsletters about the importance of setting goals. With this in mind, today I’m asking for your family’s help in achieving a lofty school goal. I’d like for Flynn to have 100% student participation with online learning, as measured by Empower activity, each week through May. Knowing that we are already at 94%, most families just need to keep doing what they are already doing. If your family is not actively logging in however, I’m asking for your support to achieve our school’s goal. I know every family has a different situation. I do. But, it is critical every student keep learning this spring. We are here to help if you
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy � 8731 Lowell Blvd., Westminster, CO 80031 Phone: 303 428-2161 │ Fax: 303 657-3843 � www.westminsterpublicschools.org
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy
need it, so please don’t hesitate to reach out. I will provide updated student engagement numbers in future newsletters so we can track our progress toward our goal together. Stay tuned and let’s hit 100% Flynn! Superintendent Swanson held a virtual town hall meeting on Monday evening. I hope you were able to attend. A topic of conversation was if/how students would move forward within grade levels starting next year. Since WPS operates in a competency-based education system, we already group students into classrooms based upon individual academic performance measures, not a student’s age. This will not change for August. Every student will academically progress solely on his or her demonstrated proficiency. So, the more your student engages in the online learning today, the more quickly he or she will advance through their learning levels. On the other hand, if your son or daughter does not participate in the home-based learning opportunities now, they will not move forward. This competency-based system is not new to WPS, but is uniquely setup to allow for the efforts students make at home today, to actually count! More to come along these matters in future newsletters. Finally, for any student who had picture retakes in March, we will be mailing these directly to your home after they arrive. Please keep an eye out for these over the next few weeks and let us know if you don’t receive them. Also, yearbooks are ready for publication! You can purchase copies ($12/each) on our school’s website. In order to ensure we can print books in time for a May arrival, the deadline to buy a yearbook is April 20th. Finally, if you have any other questions or concerns, please contact me, or your classroom teacher via email, or call the main office’s telephone line. We are still checking voice messages and of course our emails too. In closing, my thoughts and prayers are with your family, our school community, and our country as we fight this unprecedented enemy. I’m already amazed and proud of our efforts and hope the sacrifices we are making today, ultimately will make for a much better tomorrow. I believe they will, we just have to keep the faith. Stay safe everyone and see you online in Empower J
Dr. Kosena Brian Kosena, Ed.D. Principal firstname.lastname@example.org
John E Flynn a Marzano Academy � 8731 Lowell Blvd., Westminster, CO 80031 Phone: 303 428-2161 │ Fax: 303 657-3843 � www.westminsterpublicschools.org
4. WPS STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE FOR MONITORING STUDENT ENGAGEMENT
Digital Extended Learning Days – Procedure Student Instructional Time
Give students flexibility to complete what they can each day by using these screen time guidelines recommended by online and homeschool experts: Kinder to Grade 2nd: 2 hours Grades 3rd to 6th: 3 hours Grades 7th to 9th: 4 to 5 hours Grades 10th to 12th: 7 hours These time allocations reflect the formal learning time but it does not include reading aloud, excursions, nature study, sport, music practice and hobby subjects like craft, sewing or movie making. The remainder of the day students can still be learning but it is not confined to screen time only. Sample daily school schedules for Remote Learning can be found in Appendix A of this document.
In a Competency Based System, Learning matters most and time matters least (but it does matter). Students have the opportunity to engage in their own learning at their own pace. It is expected that students set individual learning goals with their teachers and demonstrate competency in a variety of ways. The natural student consequence for not engaging regularly in remote learning is that the student will not level up until the work is completed. All students are expected to continue to engage in remote learning. Consistent with compulsory attendance laws, parents may not decline remote learning services. This procedure provides guidance to connect and communicate with students and families to identify barriers and needed support. Student engagement will be recorded and reported by using the Student Engagement Report within Empower. This report captures student engagement of all learning activities in Empower. Therefore, all learning playlists and activities created by teachers need to be available and accessed through Empower so that student engagement can be recorded and reported. The Student Engagement Report will be generated daily for informational purposes. It will be generated weekly for recording comparative weekly engagement by student, grade level and school. Detailed information about how to generate and interpret the Student Engagement Report can be found in Appendix B of this document. Student engagement can be achieved in many ways such as, but not limited to, video and phone conferencing, online communication, and assignments submitted electronically; however, these must be housed in Empower to generate the Student Engagement Report. Empower will notify students of assignments that have not been completed on a weekly basis. Schools will make every effort to provide a mechanism for all students to engage in remote learning activities; however, students will not be penalized if they do not have internet access. Students who do not have internet access, primary-age and/or some students with disabilities (SWD) may need parent or guardian assistance while completing the remote learning activities and may need other modes of recording student engagement. School staff must manage and report the lack of student engagement and other concerns including social, emotional and behavioral needs so that they can be addressed and supported as appropriate.
School staff must make at least three (3) documented attempts (in Infinite Campus) to contact any student or parent if a student has not engaged for five (5) consecutive days. If a student has not engaged for (10) ten consecutive days, the student should be referred to School Administrators for follow up, which may include a referral for a wellness check. This provision does not apply to Pk-K students. However, staff are encouraged to continue to try to engage those students. The District understands that extenuating circumstances may arise that prevent students from engaging in active remote learning. Parents will notify the school if there are any such circumstances. Schools shall continue to provide special education services in accordance with guidance provided by the Special Services Department. However, in accordance with the flexibility granted to schools in regards to special education students, parents may request a temporary delay of special education services. Any concerns or questions regarding special education services or students should be directed to the Executive Director of Special Services.
APPENDIX A – SAMPLE SCHEDULES Teacher Daily Schedule
8 AM - Zoom meeting/email update per building to give directions/updates 8:30 -10 AM Plan (Core teachers and interventionists) Prep online and paper-based lessons Literature component Packets Possible webinar lesson or recorded directions. Larger research project for science/social studies BINGO board 10 AM Daily-2 PM Daily Assignment for the day goes out (Email to parents and students) Teachers online monitoring the submission of students Online “office hours” - once per day 2PM -4 PM Grading/scoring Review of assignments Summary/Reflection email to admin Sample Daily Work for other licensed staff: Title 1 Interventionists - support in online activities for teachers (pair them together) - assign to a level and have them monitor the student submissions along with helping core teachers prep activities. PE - Send out daily physical activity assignments Art/Music - list of assignments to be given via empower
APPENDIX B – STUDENT ENGAGEMENT REPORT The Empower Student Engagement Report will be provided to principals each morning with the prior day’s activity for informational and comparative purposes. Weekly reports will also be provided reflecting activity for Monday through Sunday. The reports will include all students in Westminster Public Schools. Principals will have quick filters at the top of each Excel tab to drill down to individual schools and grade levels. A variety of data views are provided including a tab with the raw data for principals interested in developing custom data views. Key data included in the Students (by school & grade) tab includes the following. By Student (Columns A to J):
Average of Logins to the Empower systems (this is the least useful data point as students are not logged out each session) # Activities Accessed reports the number of activities a student has simply clicked on in Empower. # Submitted Evidence reflects any submissions to the teacher via the Empower Student Locker. # Submitted Quizzes reports the number of quizzes taken in Empower # Social Networking Posts reflects any responses to Group Chats, Activity Messaging, or the “4 Feedback” option in student activity view. # of Completion Steps is the number of times a student has clicked the Completion Step button in teacher assigned activities. Any Empower Activity cells with a “YES” reflect students that have any positive numbers in column B through G. Any Academic Activity cells with a “YES” reflect students that have any positive numbers in column C through G as simply logging in does not reflect any engagement in academic content. Submitted work or quizzes cells with a “YES” reflect students that have any positive numbers in the Submitted Evidence or Quizzes columns D and E respectively.
By School (Columns K to L):
Same fields as noted above but with average and percent for each option instead of counts.
NOTE: If this report is run at the school level, please be sure to run it in the evening outside of student hours as to not overwhelm the Empower server during peak times.
STUDENT AND FAMILY SUPPORT More than 70 percent of WPS students qualify for free and reduced meals and for many of them, the breakfast, lunch and snacks they receive through our nutrition services program are vitally important to their health and well-being. Beginning on Monday, March 16, we began serving “grab and go” meals for our families at four locations in every quadrant of the district. WPS subsequently added four small satellite facilities. The district is providing an average of 50,000 meals per week. WPS plans to continue the program throughout the school year and will then transition to its traditional summer meal program. To help families manage the school closure process, every school was staffed on Monday, March 16 for a Transition Day for families to pick up belongings and medicine. The district created a family resource page and a printed and online guide to provide families with up to date health information and resources. The disruption of the school routine and connection with friends has been emotionally difficult for many of our students. Teachers are being encouraged to reach out to students virtually (Zoom, Facebook, Facebook live and other platforms) to keep kids connected with each other. In this time of “social distancing” we are pursuing creative uses of technology to help students and staff cope with these dramatic changes.
EQUITY IN A TIME OF CRISIS The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is hitting our at-risk populations especially hard. As mentioned earlier, many of those families suffer from food insecurity and we are supporting them in every way possible. We have an unnamed benefactor who may join the effort as well. Because many of our parents and guardians are hourly employees subject to the fluctuations of the economy their livelihoods are being significantly impacted. We are working with the City of Westminster and Adams County to share information and resources. Ensuring educational equity for all our students has always been and remains a high priority for WPS. Our Special Services Department has created the following document that compares WPS actions to requirements set by the U.S. Department of Education and the Colorado Department of Education. On the next page is a table that describes the guidance received so far from the USDOE and OCR in terms of â€œaddressing the risk of COVID-19 in schools while protecting the Civil Rights of studentsâ€? and our WPS response to these considerations:
Guidance from USDOE and OCR inOCR Comparison with WPS Response GUIDANCE FROM USDOE AND March 21, 2020 IN COMPARISON WITH Updated: WPS RESPONSE Below is a table that describes the guidance received so far from the latest updates from the USDOE and OCR for “Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities” and our WPS response to these considerations: USDOE/OCR Required Consideration In response to the coronavirus outbreak, “school officials must keep students safe and secure.” In keeping students safe, “school officials should keep in mind the federal civil rights requirements and response appropriately to allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex or disability.” “School systems must take local decisions that take into the consideration the health, safety and well-being of all their students and staff.” Moreover, with regard to the provision of special education and related services, “FAPE may be provided consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students with disabilities (SWD) and those individuals providing services to students.” School officials must “respond to evolving conditions related to the Coronavirus” and “should be mindful of the requirements of Section 504, Title II and Title VI to ensure that all students are able to study and learn in an environment that is safe and free from discrimination.” “School officials have an obligation to avoid discrimination on the basis of disability under Title II and Section 504 while cooperating with public health authorities.” While school remains in session, if a student with a disability (SWD) is expected to stay home for an extended period of time (beyond 10 days) for medical purposes as recommended by the student’s treating physician, provisions “should
Our WPS Response We are responding by closing down “brick and mortar” schools and moving toward online options for all students. We have not modified our policy in this regard, despite changing our educational approach during “brick and mortar” school closures. We are taking steps to ensure this protection.
We are knowledgeable and mindful of these considerations under Section 504, Title II and Title VI.
We have put together initial guidance to schools and families on how we are honoring our obligations with Title II, Section 504 as well as public health authorities. We also understand that our guidance is subject to adaptation, if necessary. If this were to happen, then we would follow our current WPS procedures for offering Homebound educational services. The caveat would be to ensure the safety of the staff member, student and family by offering virtual homebound services at this time. If a student is infected with
be made to maintain educational services” for SWD.
“If an LEA continues to provide educational opportunities to the general student population during a school closure, the school must ensure that students with disabilities also have equal access to the same opportunities, including the provision of FAPE.”
“If an LEA closes its schools to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19, and does not provide any educational services to the general student population, then the LEA would not be required to provide services to SWDs during that same time period.” “Once school resumes, the LEA must make every effort to provide special education and related services to the child in accordance with the child’s IEP… or Section 504” plan. “The IEP team and personnel responsible for ensuring FAPE to a student for the purposes of Section 504, would be required to make an individualized determination as to whether compensatory services are needed.”
COVID-19, and instruction is appropriate due to the severity of his/her condition, the same Homebound procedures would apply, but instruction would occur virtually or telephone calls so as to ensure the safety of the staff and student. In these cases, a Prior Written Notice (PWN) will be submitted indicating that the student’s needs can be best met through Homebound instruction until s/he is ready to safely return to school as recommended by the student’s treating physician. We have provided staff guidance for ensuring, to the greatest extent possible, that SWD have equal access to the same opportunities as the general population and for guaranteeing FAPE. Such guidance includes, but not limited to, ensuring that: students with disabilities SWD have the same access to technology and work as students from general populations; students are offered special education and related services as well as access to the general curriculum through Snap & Read, CoWriter, Empower and other methods; families are contacted with regularly to establish learning priorities per the child’s IEP; discussion with families outlining services types and methods are provided while maintaining “social distancing” for the safety staff, students and families. We are not taking this approach. Instead, we are making good faith efforts to educate all students, including SWD, through distance instruction provided virtually, online or telephonically. We will abide by this provision.
Once school reopens, the Executive Director of Special Services along with IEP teams and legal counsel will review special circumstances whereby compensatory services may be appropriate. We do not anticipate many students affected by this need for compensatory services, but we are prepared nonetheless.
“If an evaluation of a SWD requires face-to-face assessment or observation, the evaluation would need to be delayed until school reopens.”
Part C Services (birth – 3): “If the offices of the state lead agency or the EIS program or provider are closed, then Part C services would not need to be provided to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families during that period of time.” Part C Services: “If offices are closed for an extended period and services are not provided for an extended period, the IFSP team must meet to determine if changes are needed to the IFSP and to determine whether compensatory services are needed to address the infant or toddler’s developmental delay.” The DOE “encourages parents, educators and administrators to collaborate creatively to continue to meet the needs of SWD.”
We have included this language in our guidance to IEP teams. We have also put provisions in place to document these unique situations through our Prior Written Notice process. On March 17, 2020, CDE offered this guidance: “Please use code 61 (NOT VALID) and ‘COVID-19 School Closure’ as the reason to identify those evaluations which are delayed due to school closures.” We will abide by this provision.
Once school re-opens, the determination for compensatory services will occur between the IFSP team, legal counsel and the Executive Director of Special Services.
We concur and we are encouraging this collaboration through regular contacts with parents of SWDs in order to: (a) establish individualized learning priorities, (b) collaborate on how services are provided using distance learning approaches, and (c) determine the metrics and criteria by which meeting those learning priorities are met until school re-opens. This guidance is also consistent with our Interventionist Framework, which encourages collaboration among all stakeholders, including with families.
WPS SPECIAL EDUCATION GUIDANCE WPS Special Education Guidance: A Running Record April 13, 2020 According to the Council for Administrators of Special Education and the Council for Exceptional Children, the Four Priorities for Special Education during this pandemic include: 1. Focus on the safety, health and welfare of students and staff members in your community. 2. Provide FAPE - Deliver services to as many students as you reasonably can in the best way you know how. 3. Document your efforts and make sure documentation is focused, consistent, detailed and demonstrates a good faith effort to provide good services. 4. Compliance during the pandemic -- IDEA was not built for this. We believe that WPS has been consistent with these priorities at the onset. This is how: ACCESS TO GENERAL EDUCATION CURRICULUM ●
During extended school closures (longer than 10 school days), if the District provides educational opportunities or benefits for general education students, such as distance learning and online instruction, we will make every effort to provide equivalent opportunities and benefits for special education students as well.
Students with disabilities (SWD) must have the same instructional and technological access as students without disabilities. Although all students should have access to a district-issued Chromebook, not all families have internet connectivity. To help remedy this, the district has purchased a few hundred “hot spots” which provide internet access to families. If you know of a SWD that does not have connectivity, please submit the student’s name, parent’s name, home address and siblings’ schools (if any) to your principal. For itinerant staff (e.g., teachers for the hearing impaired, etc.), please submit the above-mentioned information to the Executive Director of Special Services.
Helping students access the general curriculum at home through the use of Snap & Read (text to speech) and Co-Writer (word prediction) technology.
Based on teacher assignments, providers may make appropriate accommodations and modifications for individual students.
As appropriate, focus special education lesson alignment with the general education curriculum and in collaboration with the classroom teacher through Empower playlists, lesson planning, and so on.
Instructional work packets covering 2-4 weeks’ worth of work should be done in collaboration with the classroom teacher, if appropriate. For students in the primary ages (PK - 2), students with significant disabilities (in some cases) or those that do not have internet access, paper-based work packets should be used in lieu of virtual computer options. Use professional discretion. o The Procurement Office (Eric Hodges) is able to mail paper-based instructional packets for staff. Drop off materials at the warehouse (7002 Raleigh Street) Monday - Friday from 8:00 - 11:00 or 12:30 - 3:00.
SPECIAL EDUCATION AND RELATED SERVICES ●
First, our Interventionist Framework is aligned well with our new way of doing business: o Collaboration (and consolidation of services) o Flexibility (and creativity) o High-Leverage Practices (structured literacy, envisions, etc.) o Universal Design (snap & read, co-writer, IXL, etc.)
Although IEP services will clearly look different temporarily. Licensed special education staff must be in touch with families and students by phone and/or email to collaboratively discuss your child’s learning priorities and how best to address them. o Mental Health and Teletherapy guidance please click HERE. o Speech-Language and Teletherapy guidance please click HERE. o Special Education Paraprofessionals: Please see Paraprofessional roles and functions through extended learning document.
Established supports and services should be commensurate to the level of need described in the student’s IEP.
Identifying and implementing a process for ensuring that special education and related services, including Extended School Year services, are delivered in accordance with public health guidelines and recommendations of District legal counsel:
The DOE and CDE recognize that services are going to look different during school closures, so providers are not expected to meet the exact service hours listed on student’s IEPs. The goal is to make decisions that are “responsible and reasonable” on behalf of the student while ensuring the safety and health of those involved. Further, the USDOE and CDE will show flexibility and expect district providers to make good faith efforts for addressing student needs creatively and collaboratively. In doing so, we want all licensed WPS providers to: 1. Reach out to each family and determine what specific learning priorities will be addressed during school closures 2. Discuss how those services will be accomplished through distance learning and how often. For example, will they be separate from general education tasks/requirements or combined? 3. Determine how best to progress monitor learning priorities during closures, which is crucial during remote-learning services. Each student should have a progress report through Empower, EEO Tracker or other means by the end of the school year. o Work packets covering 2-4 week worth of work, should be done in collaboration with the classroom teacher, if appropriate. For students in the primary ages (PK - 2) or those that do not have internet access, paper-based work packets should be used primarily in lieu of virtual computer options. ▪ We are exploring the use of Live Structured Literacy options for special education licensed teacher that have been trained. See video sample: Structured Literacy Lesson Video_Rachel Fox ▪ For parents/guardians who have not returned providers’ contact attempts by phone or email, please establish a school-based team process to document such contacts and the outcome of those contacts (e.g., Google doc.). If after at least three (3) documented contact attempts have been unreturned, an assumption will be made that parents wish to delay special education and/or related services temporarily until school re-opens. Regular check-in attempts (weekly or bi-monthly) are still required, however. If at any time during school closure, the family wishes to convene services, then their request must be honored. 1. On Google Sheet, please include the following headers: Student Name, Parent Name, Provider Name, Were Services Offered (yes/no), Were Services Denied (yes/no), Date/Time of Contact, Notes/Comments. ▪ Allowances are made for a delay of services to occur so long as both the IEP team and parents understand and agree of this delay until school re-opens. This decision must be documented in the context of an IEP meeting, held through video or phone conferencing.
Individual or group online contact with students with disabilities: Despite the necessity of shuttering brick and mortar schools, the School District still has an obligation to make a good faith effort to provide services to special education students in accordance with their IEPs and 504 Plans. Given the necessity of limiting physical contact, those services will need to be provided remotely. Because of the varying needs of special education students, some special education services will require one-on-one contact
with students. Accordingly, we wanted to clarify that special education teachers and other special services providers may need, or even be required, to contact students one-on-one to provide the required services to students in accordance with the students’ IEPs and 504 Plans. Additionally, to the extent that any student may be experiencing anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation or other mental health concerns, mental health providers may also need to have one-on-one contact with the student to address the mental health issue. o In order to protect teacher privacy and maintain a professional relationship, legal counsel advises that teachers and special services providers provide one-on-one services through platforms such as Google and Zoom and avoid giving out their personal contact information to students. If teachers and special services providers feel that they need to provide their personal contact information to parents, they should use their own judgment in doing so. If any concerns or questions arise related to student or parent contact or the provision of special education services, teachers and special services providers should immediately notify their principals and contact me to discuss the concern. ●
Part C Services and evaluations: If the state lead agency closes, we are under no obligation to provide Part C services to infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families during closure. This does not include Part C evaluations and IFSP meetings, which can be conducted virtually or by phone conference if needed. If evaluations are delayed due to school closures, then districts made code the delay appropriately indicating the delay was “due to COVID-19 closures.”
When school re-commences after a general school closure, we will confer with District legal counsel concerning the potential obligation for compensatory services. IEP teams and their assigned coordinators and executive director will proactively identify strategies for potential provision of compensatory services for students whose service were significantly and materially impacted as a result of school closures. Options may include, but are not limited to, extended school year options.
As much as possible, evaluations for Initial referrals and Reevaluations will continue as scheduled. Although some assessments can be done by phone or virtually, like parent/teacher interviews, screeners and checklists, others will require face-to-face time with students. As that occurs, we may need to delay these assessments until school is re-opened. o For evaluations that exceed designated timelines, please document in PWN (see attached example) and submit to Cheryl Batch. The CDE provided Districts a reporting code (Code 61) this exact purpose. o Evaluation teams should look ahead to upcoming evaluations (e.g., Initials and Reevaluations) and plan accordingly. o IEPs for evaluation reporting (and IEP development) can continue to be accomplished through remote access of Enrich. o In a limited number of cases, it may be necessary to consider a staff visit to the home, after agreement with the parents and approval by the Executive Director of Special Services, or designee. Homebound services will remain in effect, though in some cases it may be most appropriate to hold sessions through zoom video technology.
INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAMS (IEP) AND MEETINGS ● ●
To the extent possible, conduct all IEP meetings remotely through video and/or phone conferencing capabilities. When the IEP meeting is completed, teams have two choices for our temporary Signature Page process: 1. If you have a printer - print the signature page at home and indicate in the signature section who all participated remotely and the date. You can scan them to Cheryl Batch (using phone scanner app) to print when we return or send them to me when we return. 2. If you do not have a printer – make a note so when we are back in school, you can sign the page for the remote members and write in the date you met remotely. Or by using one of
several free scan apps on your smart device, you may scan document to Cheryl Batch’s email directly and more immediately. All – write in the meeting notes who attended remotely
At this point, we are not recommending blanket PWNs or IEP Amendments for all SWD resulting from this shift to services being conducted remotely, except for case-by-case circumstances.
We are expecting changes in guidance from public health agencies, the US Department of Education, the Office of Civil Rights, and other sources, which may change the legal and practical alternatives at our disposal. We will update staff as appropriate.
SCHOOL-HEALTH SERVICES PROGRAM (MEDICAID PROGRAM) ●
Providers: Mental Health Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Speech-Language Pathologists that currently document in ezEdMed -Tele-therapy options through Zoom video conferencing or telephone for individual counseling will be considered a Medicaid billable direct service and can be documented in ezEdMed. Keep in mind it would only be for those Medicaid eligible/enrolled students you were billing for normally at the school and if services are clearly stated in their IEP. Please document good notes.
Medicaid One-Time Parent Consents: As new students become eligible for services with a new IEP or Child Find evaluation, a verbal consent will be allowable as long as it is documented on the form signature line, including the date of verbal consent provided. Please include staff signature as well. Be sure to indicate Yes or No for permission and get student’s DOB, school name, and correct spelling of student’s name. You may send the Annual Notification of Rights per e-mail or U.S. mail. o Contact Medicaid Coordinator Ruth Blan per e-mail email@example.com if you have questions or need forms.
Recommending that all licensed special services staff create a free UPGRADED Zoom account for stable, recordable video conferencing capability with colleagues and students. Please load onto your special services laptops. (A zoom app is also available to use with students and colleagues, though not required to be placed on phones used for personal use.). Included is a brief YouTube tutorial on using zoom.
Establishing a simple and effective communication system for staff and families so that special services leadership can be readily contacted for questions or raised concerns.
Preparing for state and federal reporting by ensuring the reporting team has the information, technology, and tools needed to complete required reports remotely.
Ongoing coordination with SWAP and external out-of-district placement entities: o Our SWAP Coordinator will reach out to families and/or clients to discuss options if work sites are closed. o Our OOD Coordinator will be proactive in reaching out to external placement agencies to discuss their school closure protocol. o The OOD Coordinator or designees will reach out to parents after 10 school days to determine if/how services are conducted.
The list of District Interpreters can be found on email shared by Bernadette Moreno.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS Question: In using the free version of Zoom, meetings can occur for up to 40 minutes. How should we mitigate when meetings last longer? Answer: Zoom has recently its 40-minute requirement for K-12 staff by offering free full zoom upgrade by registering through this link. Question: What’s our protocol for using interpreters during virtual IEP/504 meetings? How about inviting general education teachers? Answer: Use the same district protocol with the exception of inviting interpreters (and general educators) via the zoom link. Question: Will Special Services staff have a repository of lesson and activity ideas for students with disabilities during school closures? Answer: Yes. A Google folder in the WPS Special Service Handbook folder has been created for this exact purpose. Please upload your good ideas here for others to use. Question: Will all (re)evaluations for special education be delayed until school re-opens? Answer: No. Some reevaluations, especially for older students, may require only a record review or informal assessments that do not require face-to-face interaction. Only those (re)evaluations that require face-to-face interaction will need to be delayed until school re-opens. We recently received a reporting code from CDE on this exact scenario. Question: What if when we discuss ‘learning priorities’ and ‘services’ for students, families don’t want them? Answer: Parents and IEP teams can coordinate an IEP meeting to discuss and document circumstances that may lead to the delay of services until school reopens, so long as both the school and parents agree. Question: For meetings that require an interpreter other than Spanish, do we follow the same regular process? Answer: Here’s our process for requesting non-Spanish interpreters while brick and mortar schools are closed: ● Continue with SOP to submit online SPED Interpreter Request for language than Spanish. ●
We will provide the SPED staff member with the interpreter’s name, zoom video link, etc. once all details are confirmed.
SPED staff members are responsible to provide the families the zoom video conference information.
Please promptly reach out directly to me with notification if a meeting is canceled in advance as possible.
Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Question: Do we hold Section 504 meetings in much the same manner as we would IEP meetings? And how do we collect original signatures? Answer: Yes. Section 504 meetings can also be held through video- or phone conferencing. Since original signatures of participants are not technically required, the 504 site coordinator should write the name of each participant on the 504 plan and indicate the meeting was held virtually or telephonically. Question: How should we handle new enrollments while school is closed and, say the enrolled student has an IEP needing services from one of our Learning Centers? Answer: If a family tries to enroll their child in their “boundaried” school (say, Sherrelwood), but child needs to attend an SSN learning center (say, Hodgkins), then teams from both schools, along with assigned special education coordinator(s), must hold a change of placement meeting with the family using video or phone conferencing capabilities. Once decided, services can begin the following school day.
Question: Since services are naturally changing during our transition to distance learning, is CDE requiring PWNs and/or IEP Amendments for all students with IEPs? Answer: No, although this may be subject to change. The only PWNs used at this time are for circumstances beyond our control that necessitates an evaluation delays that exceeds required timelines. Question: Can IEP teams and parents decided to delay special education and related services during this transition? Answer: Yes, so long as there is a coordinated and mutual agreement made by both the parent(s) and IEP teams. Question: Will we be required to provide compensatory services to students with disabilities once school reopens? Answer: That remains to be seen. Compensatory services are typically ordered when services are obligated yet providers don’t provide them. This isn’t the case for us since it’s not a matter of don’t, but can’t (in some unique cases). Another key consideration includes whether the child showed significant skill regression or loss over time. To address, please maintain and “ESY mindset” during closures, focusing on the maintenance of skills over the development of new ones at least initially. Finally, considerations will be made as to whether families took advantage of services when offered them. Therefore, we cannot stress enough about the importance of documenting contacts with families. Question: Do we need to get consent for teletherapy services for students who already have mental health services on their IEP, or is this only required for students without formal mental health minutes? Answer: We envision two types of consents: (a) one done naturally through the IEP process or, for those without IEPs, done through our normal MH consents procedure which is already done and (b) one that seeks consent from parents specifically understanding that remote services through teletherapy carries with it some inherent risks. The teletherapy guidance is mostly to notify parents of the risks involved in using teletherapy (through zoom, google hangout, etc.) vs. face-to-face therapy and to get their consent to proceed. Question: How can staff submit signed documents, like mileage forms, IEP Amendments, receipts to Special Services? Answer: Signed documents must be scanned and emailed to email@example.com using any number of highly-rated and free scanning apps that can be uploaded to smart phones. If signatures are required by me and/or by parent, then we are exploring the use of DocuSign. Question: What the difference between a delay vs. denial of services? Answer: A “denial” of services implies a formally written revocation of service submitted by parent/legal guardian, whereas a “delay” implies temporary cessation of services only while the distance learning requirement is invoked. Again, a delay would need to be coordinated and agreed upon by both the parent and school IEP team. Question: Are mental health providers essentially “on call” 24/7 for family emergencies that result in abuse, neglect and/or danger to self or others? Answer: As mandated reporters, mental health providers must submit a report if one suspects child abuse, neglect or is aware of a person who is posing an immiment threat to self and/or others. That said, it is encouraged that providers place parameters with parents/students by setting “office hours” (say, from 8:00 4:00) and to notify parents/students that emergencies that occur outside those hours should result in a call to law enforcement or 911. Also, communicate other resources that parents/students can access outside those hours (e.g., suicide hotlines, webpage links, etc.). If you happen to get an emergency call beyond office hours, make the report as you would normally.
TAKING CARE OF OUR OWN During this economic downturn, WPS is committed to fully supporting its classified, ESP and Administrative employees by continuing with uninterrupted salaries and benefits. We are finding innovative, outside the box, work for staff who are not directly involved in a student’s remote learning. For instance, some bus drivers have been reassigned to help the janitorial staff in the cleaning of our buildings. Aware that not all of our WPS families have access to the internet, the Westminster Public Schools Foundation took up a fundraising campaign to buy “internet hotspots” for families in need. We are also appreciative of the support from the Rose Community Foundation.
COMMUNICATION WPS has made full use of its digital communication platforms to keep families fully informed about the ever-changing situation. In addition to creating specific web pages and social media posts for coronavirus information and extended learning, the Communications Department produced a video message to the community featuring Dr. Swanson and Board of Education President, Ryan McCoy. A multipage Spanish and English language brochure was distributed online with printed versions made available at every school. We are using interpreters as needed as well as translating documents for communication purposes. Dr. Swanson devoted her entire superintendent report on March 10 to the topic, including presentations from the Chief Operating Officer, Chief Education Officer and Chief Communications Officer. Every Friday afternoon, Superintendent Pam Swanson hosts a district-wide ZOOM meeting with all WPS employees to share a common message and focus on lessons learned and possible areas of improvement. On Monday, April 6, Westmisnster Public Schools held the first of many community-wide ZOOM conferences answering questions from students, staff and members of the community who are understandably interested in the very latest developments.
THE FUTURE WPS welcomed the news about the State of Coloradoâ€™s suspension of state testing in the spring of 2020 so it can devote its resources to managing the crisis and expanding extended learning opportunities for all students. WPS joined other metro area school districts to close schools for the remainder of the year and focus on Anytime/Anywhere Learning. These changes have been especially difficult for the Class of 2020 and WPS has contracted with a Hollywood production team to produce virtual graduations for Westminster and Hidden Lake High School. The hope is that an in-person celebration for students and families will take place sometime during the summer monthsâ€”mostly likely in August. COVID-19 has forced WPS to push its staff and students to the next level of Anytime/Anywhere Learning and that is a good thing that will benefit our students in the years to come. This outbreak has also brought out the best in our community as people have reached out to one another to offer physical and emotional support.
A commitment to community safety and support for anytime-anywhere learning.