Racial Equity and Social Justice
A just society begins with a just education.
Even though we have been working hard to improve equitable access to public education for all students, we weren't there before the pandemic hit. We must continue to make good faith efforts to reach every student, including those with disabilities, students of color and English Language Learners, while we navigate through these school closures. We must also keep in mind that it is not up to individual educators to solve this -- districts should be working with our locals to provide systemic solutions to meet the needs of all students in the best way we can with these unprecedented circumstances.
Reopening schools won’t succeed without educators leading the conversations about what is workable and what isn’t. Our professional expertise and experience is crucial for creating a viable plan — one that safeguards the lives, health and educational needs of students.
WEA's Human and Civil Rights Committee has produced an Explicit Equity document to help guide our work and ensure equity in continuous learning, whether school resumes in person or remotely.
Don't forget about the rights of students with disabilities
On July 30, OSPI released its updated Special Education Guidance for Reopening Washington Schools 2020 as a downloadable pdf file. OSPI also is gathering feedback on this guidance. Share your feedback.
As the pandemic continues and schools attempt to make the transition to digital learning, students with disabilities must not be forgotten.
Students with disabilities are general education students, so digital learning opportunities offered to general education students also must be provided to students with special needs. A student’s individualized education program (IEP) consists of:
- Supports for instruction
- Present levels of performance
- Specific objectives and goals
- Where instruction and services are delivered
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees procedural safeguards for all students with IEPs to ensure that a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) is provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE).
In April, OSPI issued its Inclusionary Practices Guidelines on how to reach special education students with inclusionary practices. OSPI guidance is not a requirement. But it is clear that the expectation is that schools provide educational opportuntities for all students, including those with disabilities. As is true for others, the role of educators reaching special education students is different in this continuous, distance-learning environment as compared to school in person.
This guidance offers "how-to" help to accomplish service plans, with several specific resources and methods that can be used by general and special education teachers and paraeducators.
The guidance provides information on family partnerships and communication, student engagement, social and emotional supports, instructional delivery, and providing special education through continuous learning.
The school-based multi-disciplinary IEP team, along with parents and guardians, is in the best position to make all decisions related to studetns' social, emotional and academic devleopment.
Supporting ELLs through COVID-19Check out these resources and ideas on how to support English Language Learners during distance learning.
Migrant and bilingual continuous learning guidanceOSPI has prepared a new downloadable guide, "Supporting Multilingual/English Learners During School Closures." The 26-page guide discusses best practices, implementation strategies, continuous learning plans, and multiple resources on system readiness, family communication, student engagement, meaningful access, social-emotional supports, equity tools, online resources and more. Download ELL guidance for details. Download guidance on supporting migrant students during school closures.