Letter to Special Education Families and Caregivers

Letter to Special Education Families and Caregivers

Sent August 17, 2020

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Dear Special Education Families and Caregivers:

Welcome to the 2020-2021 school year in the San Francisco Unified School District. I hope your summer went relatively well under the circumstances. We are writing to provide you with important information relating to Special Education Services during these challenging times under COVID conditions. 

We recognize in the early days of shelter-in-place and with the onset of distance learning during the spring semester our collective challenges were abundant. We learned a lot through feedback forums from students, families, community members, case managers and principals. In listening to this feedback, we coordinated this summer’s Extended School Year (ESY) offerings in a more coordinated fashion and strengthened delivery models. Overall, ESY was a positive experience for most of our students, teachers and families.

In launching this new school year during distance learning, special education teachers will continue to support students with Individualized Education Programs by working with small groups of students, co-teaching lessons, collaborating with general education teachers, and scheduling and holding virtual IEP meetings. Related service providers will also continue to support students virtually.

CA Senate Bill-98 amended California Education Code to require a description of how IEPs will be provided under "emergency conditions." According to this new legislation, “Emergency Learning Plans” must be developed at initial IEPs or at the next regularly scheduled IEP meeting. The Emergency Learning Plan will replace the Distance Learning Plan created in the Spring of 2020. 

During the first weeks of school, special education teachers and related service providers will reach out to parents and guardians of students with IEPs to collaborate on what worked and what did not work for distancing learning, and based on this feedback develop an Emergency Learning Plan. Parents/guardians will be provided an opportunity to provide meaningful input into the development of the proposed Emergency Learning Plan and/or to hold an Amendment IEP meeting. 

In addition, Special Education staff will partner with the Department of Technology to ensure that our students with IEPs have access to appropriate digital resources. Printed learning materials for reading, writing and math will also be made available for students with moderate/severe needs and others as appropriate to supplement synchronous virtual lessons.   

You will find additional information about special education in our Special Education FAQ. SFUSD will continue to prioritize basic needs and is still providing free meals to our students. You can find information about school meal pick up times and locations and other family resources on our district website's COVID-19 Resources webpage.

In addition to the resources for students with disabilities listed at the Continuity of Learning District website, some additional online resources are linked below: 

We recognize that this can be a stressful time for many people, if you or a loved one is in need of support there are several community agency resources:  

  • Support for Families of Children with Disabilities provides free virtual IEP clinics, support groups and parent mentor volunteers to provide a circle of support. In addition they provide support and information on their warmline: (415) 920-5040
  • The Safe & Sound TALK Line provides 24-hour parental stress phone support.  Please call 415-441-KIDS (415-441-5437) if you need support.
  • Contact your physician or your insurance company to ask health-related questions or to seek mental health support. 

If you have concerns related to your child’s physical or emotional responses to the COVID-19 crisis, the following resource (PDF) shared by The National Child Traumatic Stress Network may be helpful. 

Finally, if your child receives services through Golden Gate Regional Center (GGRC), please contact your GGRC social worker by email or phone if you have not done so already.  Further information can be found at GGRC's website.

Please visit our website www.sfusd.edu/sped, for more special education updates as they occur.  

Thank you for your support and patience as we navigate uncertainty in unprecedented times.

Most Sincerely,     

Jean Robertson, Chief of Special Education