Specialized Supports

  • How will students with learning disabilities be supported during the virtual semester? 

    RPS has approximately 3,800 students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 plans for students with learning disabilities. Most of these students (about 3,400) typically receive supports within the general education classroom setting. That will continue during the virtual semester. 

    How will supports for children with more intensive IEPs be provided?

    About 400 RPS students with IEPs require more intensive supports. For example, they may benefit from learning in a class specifically tailored for students with their particular disability (a “self-contained” class), attending a private day school, or receiving homebound instruction. Most of these students will receive instruction and support virtually from their specially education teachers and related service providers.

    Are there services that cannot be provided virtually? If so, how will children receive those?

    Some services (e.g., certain kinds of speech therapy, occupational therapy, or physical therapy) cannot be effectively provided remotely. For students who require these unique services, we will arrange for in-person, at-home support using our contractors (with PPE and physical distancing).

    In addition, some students who receive functional and/or adaptive instruction may require in-person, at-home support. For example, some may require an instructional aide to assist with accessing the virtual platform and other daily instruction, along with assistive technology. We will provide these supports, as necessary.

    How will families know if their students qualify for in-person, at-home services?

    Services are determined by a student’s IEP, which is set by the IEP Team (which includes parents/caregivers). As IEPs are renewed this August, IEP teams will identify students for whom unaided virtual instruction is not possible given their cognitive and/or physical disabilities.

    If an IEP Team determines a student would benefit from in-person, at-home services, are families obligated to accept those service?

    No. If families have concerns about service providers entering their homes during the pandemic – even with PPE and physical distancing – they can decline those services.

    Where can families of students with intensive IEPs obtain additional information?

    We encourage those families to contact Francina Simmons (fsimmons@rvaschools.net) in our Department of Exceptional Education.

    How will English Learners be supported during the virtual semester?

    RPS has about 3,300 English Learners (ELs), who span a range of proficiency levels. Some of these students are recent immigrants to the United States and may have academic needs beyond just learning English. In addition, many of these students require social-emotional support adapting to their new environment. Supports for all these students will be provided virtually in the following ways:

    • Throughout the virtual day, Language Instruction Education Program (LIEP) teachers will partner with general education teachers to provide small-group instruction and support, and may at times co-teach.

    • In addition, all ELs will participate in an English Language Development (ELD) block, utilizing online platforms such as Imagine Learning, Read 180, or Language Live. LIEP teachers will facilitate this learning.

    • English Learners at schools who have very low numbers of ELs will virtually join co-taught ELA classes and ELD elective classes. We will make special scheduling accommodations to ensure all our English Learners have access to the services they require.

    How do families who are new to RPS (including those who are new to the United States) find out if their student qualifies as an English Learner?

    We encourage all such families to visit our Welcome Center, where staff can provide language screening services and other supports. It is located at the Southside Community Services Center at 4100 Hull Street. All staff will be wearing PPE and will follow physical distancing guidelines as best as possible. Families must wear face coverings when they visit the Welcome Center.

    How will Pre-K and primary grade students be supported in a virtual environment?

    We acknowledge that virtual learning for our youngest students will be challenging. That is why we have taken a number of steps to make it as accessible and developmentally-appropriate as possible. For example, in our Pre-K schedules, we have included:

    • Dedicated time for creative play, which will be supported by a menu of suggested activities and supplies that will be provided in student learning kits;

    • Dedicated time movement breaks, outdoor play, and rest; and

    • Short bursts of synchronous (live) whole-group instruction, followed by small-group activities.