March Newsletter | Preparing for School Closures

Preparing for School Closures?
Consider Extended School Year Services

Addressing students' needs during school breaks and disruptions can feel particularly challenging for students with significant needs. However, it is these students that are most vulnerable to regression and susceptible to longer periods of recoupment when school is not in session. It is vital that we continue to find solutions to keep students moving forward in their learning. Below, we delve into extended school year services, how they’re determined, and some options that we offer to support students during breaks or closures.

Extended School Year Services

Extended school year (ESY) services are special education or related services that students need in order to maintain the skills they have learned. Mandated by IDEA, these services are not synonymous with summer school, as they are not limited to summer break. IEP teams evaluate what support students will need throughout the whole year, including during shorter breaks, like spring and winter, to determine eligibility for ESY services.

Two criteria are presented by the U.S. Department of Education for IEP teams to use to evaluate ESY services: regression and recoupment. Regression refers to whether a student is likely to lose critical skills when school services are not provided. Recoupment is the amount of time to re-learn the skills lost. Students with autism and other developmental disabilities are at high risk for loss of skills during a gap in instruction. It is vital that students access curriculum to support maintenance and reinforcement of skills.

STAR Extended School Year Professional Development Program

At STAR Autism Support, we work with districts with unique scheduling opportunities during breaks to provide professional development training. These trainings often include an overview of the STAR Program and hands-on guidance with teachers and students to refine different instructional strategies and skills. Our program can be implemented during times that students are receiving ESY services and tailored to fit the needs of any district. One of our most popular options is for teachers to work with students and STAR coaches during ESY morning classroom time and receive professional development training in the afternoon. With a strong focus on district needs, we have developed a rotation schedule that allows staff to rotate through training and teaching. Want to learn more about our ESY professional development trainings? Click the orange box to contact us.

STAR Online Learning System

We now offer an online curriculum available for school districts needing to provide remote services to students when school buildings are closed. The STAR Online Learning System (SOLS), includes three leveled strands to address the education needs of students with significant learning challenges. SOLS offers a completely online-based curriculum with 120 lesson plans, professional development, and real-time online coaching. We provide current staff with a curriculum, script, and online visuals for students to use as they follow along on their own devices. This program makes remote learning a truly viable option for students with more significant learning needs.

While regularly scheduled breaks present a known set of challenges, the issues facing our country regarding sudden school closures, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19), present new and unique challenges for school districts. Our thoughts are with the districts facing these difficult decisions. We are here to support teachers and administrators in determining a plan for serving students in the face of an extended school closure. For more information on how we can work together to find solutions that will best fit the needs of your students, click the blue box.

Don’t miss our free hand-washing resources. Washing hands is an essential skill needed to support students' hygiene, and we know this is a routine that can be challenging for students with autism. We’re sharing some resources to make the task a little easier. Check them out by clicking below.