The Woods Schools has a phased reopening plan in place, approved by the Woods Services Board of Trustees. This health and safety plan is based on a scaffolded reopening in which some students are engaged in in-person learning, while others are distance learning.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Pennsylvania schools have been closed as a means of containing the spread of the virus. Although this public health measure is certainly necessary, the Woods Schools recognizes the critical need to take action to avoid a negative impact on students who are educated through the Woods approved private schools, as they represent the Pennsylvania youth in need of the most intensive level of educational support. The Woods’ education team developed an action plan that will guarantee these most vulnerable, developmentally and physically disabled, medically fragile, and behaviorally complex students continue to receive instruction, supports, and services through a variety of innovative educational strategies and interventions.
The Woods’ residential and day students receiving IEP driven special education, related services, and in some cases, 1:1 paraprofessional support, are a unique group of youth whose learning cannot afford any significant gap in instruction. That is the reason that most of these students are deemed eligible for extended school year instruction. The school closing related by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to a halt the necessary educational instruction of these students and could certainly violate each student’s IEP. Of greatest concern is the risk of regression in an academic skill that will result if the Woods educators are unable to continue to provide the necessary instruction and supports.
The Woods Schools took immediate action to develop the following comprehensive plan to provide each of our students a full day of alternative instruction utilizing a variety of online platforms or other assistive technology. Enrichment packets have been developed for each day student that include related services activities. Through Microsoft team classrooms and the provision of I-pads, laptops, and other devices, our special education teachers, behavior therapists, and allied therapists will remotely provide each student with five hours of instruction and learning opportunities. Key components of this plan include:
- The delivery of student-specific content, instruction and specific learning as per the LEA
- The delivery of related services as prescribed in each student’s IEP to include FCS, music, health and physical education
- The continuation of classroom review, practice, evidence-based tutoring, social-emotional learning, enrichment and/or instruction of IEP goals
- Alternate strategies of monitoring to assess and document each student’s progress and identify any instructional modifications that may be needed
- The maintenance of on-going contact with student families and residential treatment provider staff to ensure a collaborative approach and to provide any technical support necessary to facilitate quality instruction
Phase I: Administrative Planning for Delivery of Instruction
Timeline: March 9-13
- Administrative planning for remote learning via Microsoft Teams App (MSTA)
- Prepare and inventory I-pads, laptops and other devices
- Call parents of day students to get updated contact information, emails, and identify homes which have devices for instruction
- Teacher, related services, administration, and staff log in to MSTA
- Administration pilot use of an app for meetings
Phase II: Extended School Closure Plan: (Began March 19, 2020)
Extended School Closure is defined as 5 or more consecutive school days when school is not in session due to local or state mandates (acts of God, governmental action, riot, war, fire, epidemic, pandemic, civil unrest, flood, acts of terrorism, earthquake, weather, other threats to the safety of students and staff, national emergencies, facility, mechanical, electronic, or communication failures, or any other cause beyond our schools reasonably foreseeable control.). This does not include scheduled school breaks. During this time, Woods Services began to pilot the use of distance learning with teachers and administration.
Timeline: March 16-April 3:
- An alternate method of instructional delivery
- Educational personnel start using an alternative method of instructional delivery via Microsoft Team App (MSTA) for all communication
- Administration test MSTA with individual teachers meeting to practice
- Teachers continue to prepare lesson plans, complete career to work portfolios and identify enrichment activities for students
- Enrichment packets for day students with related services activities are mailed to day students.
- Each teacher creates a Microsoft team classroom with their students and therapists.
- Teachers and Related Therapists connect with students remotely to check-in and troubleshoot issues.
- Correspondence and clarification with districts regarding LEA requests and directive during this time
- Development of daily schedule for student learning opportunities each day
Phase III: Specific learning opportunities for special education students based on their grade level and content needs
Timeline: April 3 and beyond
Deliver student-specific content, instruction, and specific learning opportunities as per the LEA. Learning opportunities are defined as independent or small group activities that reinforce prior knowledge, introduces new knowledge related to IEP goals, or depends on existing knowledge in a particulate subject/course. Throughout this phase, attendance and student participation in learning opportunities will be logged and tracked by teachers, therapists, and submitted to the supervisor. The goal is to offer students 5 hours of instruction and learning opportunities between the hours of 9- 3 with the teacher and therapists including art, FCS, music, health, and physical education so students’ progress can continue or be maintained.
Learning Opportunities and Instruction will be:
- Highly encouraged activities for students (unless parents or district make completion involuntary)
- The continuation of classroom review, practice, evidence-based tutoring (e.g., I-ready), social-emotional learning, enrichment and/or instruction of IEP goals as determined by the school-based team-based depending on the LEA
- Examples of instructional programs will include” a) iReady, b) Brain Pop, c) Reading A –Z, d) Unique learning systems, e) Second Steps, and other accessible online programs.
- For residential students: teacher-led and supported by education staff (e.g., 1:1 and teacher assistants)
- For day students: teacher-led education with the support of caretaker in the home.
- I-Ready math and reading instruction will take place when appropriate for students who are able to use and data will be collected on each session
- Activities that will take approximately 30-45 minutes
- An alternate form of progress monitoring will be used to monitor student progress and goals.
- Development of learning opportunity packets for day students who do not have home devices
- Goals that cannot be addressed via this format will be noted by the teacher/ therapist on the progress report.
- Related service providers and behavior specialists provide each child with an activity each day by email for them to complete, with the support of their family, in their area(s) of need.
- Day students will require a parent/guardian in the home to assist with accessing online instruction and to support them during their time completing the activities.
- Students who do not have devices at home have been handled individually and offered devices as needed.
- Wood Services will continue to be in contact with day student families via the IEP coordinator and residential families via the care coordinators biweekly (1 per two weeks).
- Copies of those communications are available upon request. LEA representatives can also be copied on future communications upon request.
Phase IV: Revision to Plan
- Woods will continue to review the plan as we receive direction from the Commonwealth and continue to adjust based on the daily updates we get from the State and local districts.
- Adjust the school calendar till June 30 to maximize school days for students.
While Woods Services understands that the Governor (as of March 23, 2020) has now extended the school closure to April 6, 2020, and with students tentatively able to return to school on April 9, 2020, Woods Services is proceeding with this plan above that can in place longer than April 6, if needed. Woods Schools continues to set up IEP meeting virtually or by conference call with families and LEAs for students placed with the school via contract/NOREP to make the necessary revisions to reflect the current crisis.