August 20, 2020

MDE COVID-19 Special Education Update: Summary

The document on COVID-19 and special education instruction, services, programming, funding and resources posted to the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) COVID-19 Updates and MDE Special Education webpages has been updated. The update includes one question and answer addressing instruction for students who are unable to maintain at least six feet in social distancing in a hybrid model.

If students with disabilities are not able to maintain at least six (6) feet in social distancing in a hybrid model, must that student be provided instruction using the distance learning model?

The guidance refers to a number of helpful resources and suggests that students and staff should socially distance as applicable, wear a face covering/face shield as able, clean shared materials, wash hands frequently, avoid mixing groups, and utilize a small group size. The guidance references the three documents below.

References:

MDE 2020-21 School Year Planning Guidance 7/30/20 states, “Hybrid learning with strict social distancing and capacity limits. In this planning scenario, schools must limit the overall number of people in school facilities and on transportation vehicles to 50% maximum occupancy. Sufficient social distancing with at least 6 feet between people must occur at all times. If distancing cannot be achieved in a space or on a transportation vehicle, the number of occupants must be reduced.

MDH Guidance for Delivering Direct Student Support Services: Staff Protective Equipment 7/30/20 states, “Social distancing is an essential tool to mitigate the risk of transmission of disease, and school staff should evaluate all services to incorporate social distancing as much as possible. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) recognize that a variety of educational programs and services require close, physical, and prolonged contact, and would be difficult to provide to students while still abiding by social distancing guidelines. These include: evaluation for service eligibility; screening for developmental or other health conditions; personal care services; and specialized instruction and related services for students with special health care needs or disabilities.”

MDH 2020-2021: Planning Guide for Schools Health Considerations for Navigating Covid-19 7/3/2020 states, “School staff will be in close contact with students when they provide certain services, including evaluation for service eligibility, screening for developmental or other health conditions, personal care services, and specialized instruction and related services for students with special health care needs or disabilities. Personal protective equipment must be used to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the provision of these and other services that require close, physical and prolonged contact.” (This guidance applies when planning for all scenarios.) 

Resources:

Guidance for Delivering Direct Student Support Services: Staff Protective Equipment 

Appendix A: Guide for Choosing Protective Equipment of MDH Guidance for Delivering Direct Student Support Services: Staff Protective Equipment 7/30/20 (https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/schools/directsupport.pdf)

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