Volume 15 Num 2 Nov. 2020
Iowa Family & Educator Partnership Newsletter
Learn More About the
IA Family & Educator Partnership
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What Teachers Want Parents to Know about Teaching During a Pandemic

Early in October I sent Special Education Teachers an email asking for their help. I wanted parents to know what our educators are thinking and feeling while teaching through these tough times. It was important that the words come from the teachers, and their heart. Below you will find the responses I received.

1. The honest truth is... I love my job, and I love your kids like they are my own. I can’t imagine doing anything else. In the classroom is where I want to be. Is teaching during a pandemic easy? Not even close. Have we had to make adjustments? Yes. Has it been worth it? Absolutely. We’ve found a new normal that includes wearing face masks, social distancing, and lots of cleaning, but you know what? It feels good. Why? Because we are together again. There's nothing that can replace the human interaction that takes place within the walls of a school. If anything, this pandemic has taught us that our kids need us more than ever. Education is so much more than academics. 
2. I have spent so long wondering if my kids were ok. Are they eating? Are they safe? Are they emotionally coping with the stress of the pandemic? I know now, that for 8 hours a day, they are working toward being happy, healthy and whole. I love being in my classroom with my students, even amidst the craziness of COVID 19. Thank you for sharing your children with me. 
3. In my room the desks are spread apart about 4ft. the kids are wiping down their own desk or table (spots where they have sat) they are being held responsible for this. If we are in contact with each other for more than 15 minutes, we are wearing masks or shields. I would also like parents to know that kids do NOT learn well online, so it is important for them to be in school unless someone in the immediate family has an underlying medical issue. 
4.  We are taking temperatures and doing health checks daily. Students are all requiring extra emotional support. Each day something changes and it impacts our daily schedule and curriculum. Teachers need support from parents right now. In the spring, I taught online and met virtually with my students while homeschooling my son and taking care of my youngest child. Teachers were not allowed to bring their own children in the building at that time, so to access materials I had to come in when my children were asleep and my husband was home later in the evening. 

The Iowa Department of Education, AEAs, and districts have developed the Iowa IDEA Information (i3) website to provide parents, families, educators, and partner agencies with a one-stop-shop for procedures, guidance, and resources for both early intervention and special education. To access these additional resources, please visit the Resources page within i3 by clicking here https://iowaideainformation.org/

This year, in our bi-monthly FEP Newsletter, we will dive into sections of the i3 website to help you prepare to be active participants in your child’s IEP Meeting. i3 is a great resource for educators and families to understand special education. As parents, we do better when we know better. So let’s take a deeper dive into understanding parents rights and parent involvement in IEP meetings. 

Under the Procedural Safeguards in Special Education heading you will find:
  • Why it’s important to ensure parent participation in the IEP meetings
  • Learn more about Parent Consent
  • How parents are notified of changes in the Prior Written Notice 
  • Options for resolving disputes
  • Use of parents native language & interpreters
  • Parent participation resources

Under the Procedural Safeguards in Early intervention (Birth - 3) heading you will find:
  • Parent Participation
  • Learn more about Parent Consent
  • Requirements of Prior Written Notice 
  • Requirements for Early Intervention Records
  • Addressing Differences

Consider sharing the i3 website with other families and educators. There is so much valuable information on this website!
Hybrid/Virtual Learning
Understanding and Documenting
IEP Team Decisions

The Coronavirus has affected every area of society, including education. This disruption exposed the need for the education system to anticipate a significant interruption of services and be prepared to continue educational services if disrupted in the future.

In order to support changes in the delivery of services so that educational services are not disrupted in the future, IEP teams need to discuss and decide what services and supports a student will need in a variety of delivery models. As families and educators, you will be included in those decisions.

Iowa schools are currently planning for three possible models: on-site (brick and mortar), hybrid, and virtual learning. Virtual learning includes services that are provided through technology such as online, telephone, or hard copy materials/packets. Hybrid learning refers to educational services that are provided as a combination of virtual learning and on-site learning.

While the services listed on page (pg F) will remain the same during on-site (brick and mortar), changes during the period of virtual/hybrid learning will be documented and recorded in the IEP on the additional information page (pg. I). As IEP teams are working to develop and document virtual/hybrid learning plans for students, the following questions will assist families and educators in planning. 

Describe the General Education services and settings for virtual/hybrid learning.
• What are the student’s peers engaged in and receiving for universal general education?

What Accessibility needs are unique to the student for virtual/hybrid learning?
• Description of the services, supports, and activities provided and student access in a virtual/hybrid setting.
• How can a child attend school as provided by the district (virtual/hybrid)?
• Describe the student’s ability to access online/virtual platforms?
• If partial accessibility is available, what can be provided to supplement the rest?

What other needs of the student are unique to the virtual/hybrid setting and his/her/their individual circumstances?
• Describe the needs of the child.
• How are the needs of the child different if/when we move to a virtual setting?
• How will the accommodations and modifications this child is receiving change if/when we move to a virtual setting?

How will Services on the services page (pg. F) be prioritized, adapted, and delivered to the student to make progress in virtual/hybrid learning? What, if any, services will not be delivered in virtual/hybrid learning?
• Describe what services will be provided to the child to make progress in a virtual/hybrid setting.
• What changes in services, supports, and activities will occur during hybrid/virtual learning (e.g., frequency, duration, goal areas)?
• What additions or modifications to the special education and related services are needed to enable this child to meet the IEP goals and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum during hybrid/virtual learning?
• What services will be provided for this student to make progress in hybrid/virtual learning?
• What supports will this student need to make progress?
• What supports will parents/caregivers need?

What Goals are prioritized by the IEP team and how will Progress Monitoring for these goals be adapted for a virtual/hybrid setting?
• Discussion of goals (baseline, goal, and progress monitoring) for each goal on the IEP
• Are there adjustments in progress monitoring that need to be considered?
Consider other questions as relevant to the unique circumstances of the individual.

Remember, as we continue through this pandemic, the services page (pg F) will continue to reflect the services and activities that will be provided to the individual student on-site (brick and mortar). The additional information page (pg I), will reflect the learning plans to support the student in both a virtual and hybrid learning settings.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
Free Virtual Conference
Speaker Highlights:
  • Ernie Stevens, Joe Smarro, and Jenifer McShane from the documentary Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops
  • Iowa DHS Director Kelly Garcia
  • The NAMI National Director of Research and Quality Assurance, Teri Brister
This conference is FREE and open to all. 
"ASK an Expert" Webinar Series Regarding FAQs on Return 2 Learn is now available on the ASK Resources YouTube Channel.

Click here for a session with Dr. Barb Guy where she provides an overview of Return 2 Learn concepts and guidance, orients the audience to the department's Return 2 Learn resources, and provides answers to some of the questions families most frequently contact the ASK an Advocate Helpline regarding Return 2 Learn.

Click here for a session with Dr. Barb Guy, Iowa Department of Education's Director of Special Education and Thomas Mayes, Iowa Department of Education's Special Education Attorney. In this session they answer some of the questions families most frequently contact the ASK an Advocate Helpline regarding Return 2 Learn.

Do you know others that would benefit from this
newsletter? Please forward it to them!

Understanding Special Education
The Iowa Family & Educator Partnership is committed to helping families and educators better understand the special education process. To do this, we offer printed and electronic materials on a variety of special education topics. Click on the documents below to learn more about them.
These bookmarks share shortcuts to locate information in the IEP/ IFSP. The reverse side provides space to list team members contact information.
This brochure will help explain FEP supports and services available to families & educators through the IA Family & Educator Partnership.
This document will help families prepare for an IEP meeting. It offers guidance on what to expect before, during and after the meeting.
Functional Behavior Assessment A Functional Behavior Assessment is a way to help you and the school understand why your child is showing problem behavior. This brochure will help you understand that process.
A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is designed to increase (reinforce) positive behaviors and decrease problem behaviors. This brochure will help you understand how and why a BIP is developed for some students. 
Child Find is the process used to determine if a child needs special education services and supports. This brochure will help you understand the what, how, when and more in reguards to the child find process.
All of these documents and more are also available at:
RESPECT Training 
GPAEA Spring of 2021


RESPECT is a free, four-day workshop focused on training participants in relationship building and conflict resolution. The skills and strategies taught at this training workshop can be applied universally when addressing professional and personal conflict. 

This training is offered at no cost, but registration is required. All training materials will be provided. Stipends are available upon request to offset the cost of travel and other expenses associated with attending the training; $50 per day parent stipends paid directly to parents, and $100 per day educator stipends are paid directly to your district. 

When registration and specific details are available, they will be found at: https://www.gpaea.org/services/iowa-family-and-educator-partnership-fep/

Learn more about Family & Educator Partnership and access resources at
Great Prairie AEA | 800-622-0027 | www.gpaea.org