May 20, 2020
I would first like to take this opportunity to acknowledge all of the hard work teachers, therapists, school staff, and especially you as parents have been putting into Distance Learning. It has not gone unnoticed- thank you! On May 18, 2020, the South Orange & Maplewood Board of Education approved the SOMSD School Health Related Closure Plan. Included in this plan, there are some updates to the Special Services Distance Learning Plan that I would like to highlight and make you aware of. The updates in the plan reflect some of the great feedback that we have received from teachers and families. It is our hope that these updates will improve upon the learning experiences for all students with an IEP.
Special Services Updates:
1. Additional opportunities for increased Speech Therapy
2. Weekly personalized virtual interaction
3. Paraprofessional supports for students
Contracted Speech therapists (who already have working relationships with the district) have been contracted to begin providing additional services to families. The contracted speech therapists will provide an extension of services already being provided. These speech therapists will be working directly from students’ IEPs, in order to assist with meeting IEP goals. These additional certified therapists will allow for the extension of therapy hours, while also providing consistency in service delivery. Each therapist has received an introduction from our lead speech therapist and has reviewed each IEP for every student they will be supporting.
Personalized Virtual Interaction:
While various platforms are being utilized across the district, and there is a focus on pre-recorded lessons, special education teachers specifically, will use Google Meet/Hangout to assist their students by using video or audio means to support the accommodations and modifications as set forth in IEPs. Students in grades PreK – 8 with an IEP will be contacted at least once a week for personalized virtual interaction with their special education teacher. The weekly live-interaction will be an opportunity with the teacher to follow-up on a pre-recorded lesson or activity directly with the student/family. This consistent communication will allow the teachers to review with students challenges that they may be having with a particular lesson or activity. This instructional guidance (i.e. personalized virtual interaction) will be accomplished in a variety of ways which may include; Google Meet, ShowMe, phone calls, email, etc. Teachers remain available during their daily “office hours” for questions, so please reach out to them directly with any questions on assignments.
The special education supervisors have worked to develop sample tasks that paraprofessionals will implement in working with students. Paraprofessionals (1:1 aides and shared aides) will begin working to assist students who they supported prior to the closure. Paraprofessionals will engage in a variety of tasks, including but not limited to: daily check-ins with students, oral reading tasks, and assisting students with executive functioning tasks.
Dr. Melody Alegria Assistant Superintendent, Special Services (email@example.com)
Dr. Laura Morana, Interim Director of Special Services for Transition (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Leroy Johnson III, Supervisor of Preschool Education Program (email@example.com)
Ms. Karen Thomany, Supervisor of K-8 Program (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ms. Susan Ellis, Supervisor of K-8 Program (email@example.com)
Ms. Gerri Colon, Supervisor of 9-12 Program (firstname.lastname@example.org)