OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION
10942 North Jacob Smart Blvd., Ridgeland, SC 29936
Telephone: (843) 489-8892
Fax: (843) 717-1153
Dear Parents and Families of Students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs):
During this time of school closures due to COVID-19, there are some important things to remember. Any actions taken by a district or school regarding closures are for the safety of all students, families, school personnel, and community members. As districts are determining the most appropriate steps to ensure student and staff safety, we want to provide you with guidance relating to students with disabilities and their services. It is extremely important for families and schools to collaborate and communicate regarding services for students with disabilities.
The United States Education Department understands that, during this national emergency, schools may not be able to provide all services in the same manner they are typically provided. While some schools might choose to safely, and in accordance with state law, provide certain IEP services to some students in-person, it may be unfeasible or unsafe for some institutions, during current emergency school closures, to provide hands-on physical therapy, occupational therapy, or tactile sign language educational services. Many disability-related modifications and services may be effectively provided online. These may include, for instance, extensions of time for assignments, videos with accurate captioning or embedded sign language interpreting, accessible reading materials, and many speech or language services through video conferencing.
What will happen to my child’s services when school is canceled for all students due to COVID-19?
- If a school closure causes educational services for all students to stop, then the district is generally not required to provide services to students eligible for special education services during that same time.
- After an extended closure, districts are responsible for reviewing how the closure impacted the delivery of special education and related services to students eligible for special education services. The IEP teams may determine students need compensatory services or extended school year services.
- If annual reviews or eligibility determinations are due during school closure, please work closely with your school to have the eligibility determination meeting as soon as school is back in session or through alternate means, such as video or audio conference calls.
What will happen to my child’s services when a school is closed but educational services continue to be provided through non-traditional means such as distance learning?
- If a local school district elects to utilize nontraditional methods to provide educational opportunities to the general student population, then the district also must ensure that students with disabilities have equitable access to the same opportunities, including the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education. Districts should be communicating with you during and after this period of instruction regarding your child’s IEP services. Districts and schools will work to ensure that all students receive services to the most appropriate and reasonable extent possible.
- Although special education or related services may need to be adjusted, districts must provide IEP services. Districts may provide IEP services through an alternative means, such as curriculum-based schoolwork packets, online learning, or some other distance learning adapted to the student’s needs and location.
- This is not a change in placement for your child. This is a temporary adjustment in service delivery for all students due to the current natural emergency.
- Once schools reopen, IEP teams will be responsible for reviewing how the closure impacted the delivery of special education and related services to students with IEPs. Each student’s IEP team must make an individual determination to decide whether the student requires compensatory education to make up for any skills that may have been lost because the student did not receive educational benefit due to missed special education services.
- If annual reviews or eligibility determinations are due during this time, please work closely with your school to meet as soon as school is back in session or through alternate means, such as video or audio conference calls.
Additional guidance may be found in the following:
- OSEP Supplemental Facts Sheet
- COVID-19 and South Carolina Schools
- OSEP Q&A on Providing Services to Students with Disabilities during COVID-19
- OCR Fact Sheet COVID-19
- Supplemental Fact Sheet
Please direct student-specific questions to your local director of special education. For general questions, you may access the South Carolina Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Services webpage at https://ed.sc.gov/districts-schools/special-education-services/.
Paige Elmore, Director of Special Education
Mrs. Pamela Sims, Coordinator of Academic Interventions and Diversity
Mrs. Cathy Smith, Fiscal Office Manager
Mrs. Audrea Lowe, Office of Academics Administrative Assistant
Do you need Special Education Records for a student?
Please call 843-489-8892 ext. 1302 or fax your request to 843-717-1153