Special Education Services: Fall 2020 Reopening

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Special Education Services: Fall 2020 Reopening
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Please review the "Special Education" section of our "Fall 2020 School Reopening Plan" adopted by the school board.

Timeline for Special Education Family Contact:


  • September 8-9: Your special education case manager will send out a welcome email to all families on their caseload describing upcoming contacts.
  • September 9-18: Your special education case manager will reach out to your family individually to share a tentative service schedule, get feedback from you regarding your child's service needs, and schedule an IEP meeting with your special education team.
  • September 9- October 9: Your special education teams will hold IEP meetings with you where formal decisions regarding special education plans will be made.



Student Support graphic



In anticipation of the beginning of this 2020-21 school year we want to provide you with information regarding special education services in these unique circumstances.


In the past couple of weeks, The Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has released guidance around the IEP process and special education service provision, which was subsequently modified a week ago. We expect that guidance will continue to evolve over time. Olympia School District has adopted a comprehensive plan for re-opening that includes guidelines for district-wide special education services.


Our reopening plan provides the following information regarding special education:


  • IEPs will be reviewed at the outset of the school year. There is no exception to the requirement to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities during COVID-related disruption. Just as the district is providing general education services to students without disabilities, we are likewise required to provide FAPE to students with disabilities. The IEP review will look at a student's progress on IEP goals in addition to determining an individualized learning plan for each student.
  • OSPI has indicated that if there is little or no disruption based on COVID, IEPs should be written to reflect current needs in the in-person setting. Where there is significant disruption, as is currently the case in Thurston County, individual IEP teams (of which parents are a critical member) will make the determination of whether to proceed with the IEP as written, amend that IEP, or utilize a Continuous Learning Plan. The determination of whether to utilize continuous learning plans may change with updated guidance from OSPI.
  • When in-person school operations resume, per OSPI guidance, the district will determine whether recovery services are needed for individual students based on whether or not the district was able to provide appropriate IEP services during COVID-19 altered learning delivery.
  • Regular schedules of proactive and transparent school/home communication will be established and described in the IEP/Learning Plan.
  • Predictable schedules of intervention/instruction and collaboration plans with general education staff will be established for all students with IEP based services.


OSD has recently elected not to use continuous learning plans

Your child’s IEP will be reviewed with you at the outset of the school year. Based on that review, the IEP will either be implemented as written (if possible in the distance learning context), amended, or re-written to address your child’s needs in the distance learning context. All IEPs will be required to describe, specifically, a schedule of communication with you (over and above remote learning sessions). You will be provided with a consistent and predictable schedule of intervention. Additionally, you will be provided with a specific schedule of progress monitoring on IEP goals.


We have received several questions from families regarding recovery services. OSPI defines recovery services as “...a term for additional services needed during the school day due to lack of expected progress during the (COVID-19 school facilities) closure.” According to supportive guidance from OSPI, upon the resumption of in-person learning, IEP teams will determine the need for recovery services for each student receiving Special Education services. This determination will be based on a review of each student’s progress prior to the school facilities closure, a review of their progress following the school facilities closure, and their access to distance learning activities over the course of the school closure.


County health officials have indicated that districts may elect to offer in-person specialized learning opportunities to groups of no more than five students, provided the district follows all state and local health and safety requirements. We are currently working with our teacher (OEA) and paraprofessional (OPA) associations around the parameters of potential in-person instruction for limited numbers of students in very specific circumstances. When these agreements are finalized, we will be able to provide further information.


The Olympia Special Education PTO group will be convening two meetings: one on August 19, at 6:00 pm (elementary zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/y29smqxp) and one on August 20, also at 6:00 pm (secondary, zoom link: https://tinyurl.com/y53hsq6r).


Special Education Directors will be present at these meetings to outline district programming heading into the school year. Additionally, we have set up a dedicated email address [email protected] for your convenience. Questions sent to this address will be reviewed and, to the extent possible, answered at the upcoming meetings. We will also publish a FAQ section on the district website in the Student Support page.


Ken Turcotte, Ruth Middlebrook and Tom Parnell