This summer, the Arizona Center for Disability Law, Raising Special Kids, the Sonoran Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the University of Arizona, and the Institute for Human Development at Northern Arizona University hosted a three-part webinar series intended to address the questions and concerns of families of students with disabilities and other high-needs students in light of COVID-19 school closures.
Our first session was a listening session, where we invited students, parents, and family members to share what their experiences with distance learning were like during COVID school closures and to ask any questions they had. We also created and distributed a survey to Arizona families asking them to share their questions and concerns. Based on this input, we invited speakers from different organizations and agencies to present on common topics of concern and to try to answer families’ most frequently asked questions.
During our second session, we heard from the Arizona Department of Education’s Exceptional Student Services team, the Arizona Center for Disability Law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona, the Native American Disability Law Center, and Raising Special Kids about topics including the right to a free and appropriate public education during school closures, compensatory education, equity of access to resources and support during distance learning, and best practices and resources that exist for families going forward.
During our third and final session, we focused on school reopening and what back-to-school might look like this year. During our listening session and in the survey responses we received, many families expressed concerns about back-to-school and had questions about safety, accommodations, and how educational services will be provided to their children. Please note that when and how your child’s school will reopen in the fall is a decision that will be made by your child’s school district or charter administration and school board. The information that was shared during our third session was meant to give families an idea of what some schools are planning when it comes to school reopening. However, it is important to understand that policies and procedures around school reopening will differ from school to school, and families should get in touch with their students’ specific schools to learn more.
Thank you to all the students and their parents and family members who joined us for one or more of our webinar sessions. Thank you also to the advocates, professionals, teachers and school administrators who are working hard to find creative solutions that will benefit students during these difficult times.
Below are resources related to our webinar series.
Webinar Recordings and Transcripts
• Session #1: Listening Session
o Video recording —https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8Ciw5mWqlE&t=631s
o Transcript — https://mcusercontent.com/d16e822c1361fc2ba953a9e02/files/68dc845c-074f-40bf-a050-60552e0fabc9/Transcript_Session_1.pdf
• Session #2: Panel Discussion
o Video recording — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dst2Mi27K9M&t=4s
o Transcript — https://mcusercontent.com/d16e822c1361fc2ba953a9e02/files/583fbfbd-a056-4644-8865-9d60820dd375/Session_Two_Transcript.pdf
• Session #3: Back-to-School
o Video recording – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cez5eAZ5J7Y
o Transcript – https://mcusercontent.com/d16e822c1361fc2ba953a9e02/files/e61caf20-20c7-4af3-919a-1d23a0c982d6/Session_3_Transcript.pdf
Slide Decks Used in Session #2
• Arizona Department of Education – Compensatory Education Guidance
• Arizona Department of Education – Extended School Year
• Arizona Department of Education – Special Education FAQ
• Arizona Center for Disability Law – Special Education Advocacy Tips
• ACLU of Arizona – Equity of Access
• Raising Special Kids – Resources and Support for Families
Google Doc with Links to Online Resources Referenced in Presentations
Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Child’s School About School Reopening
• English – https://www.azdisabilitylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Top-5-English.pdf
• Spanish — https://www.azdisabilitylaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Top-5-spanish-update-070220-1.pdf
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