Re-Opening FAQs – Special Education

Below are responses to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to the school re-opening for students who receive special education services.

Can you provide an update on the use of virtual assessments to help teams determine if a student has a disability?

The Office of Special Education (OSE) is working with staff to create a plan to conduct virtual assessments in many areas. We hope to have a finalized plan before school starts, train staff, and then begin to virtually assess students. Schools will work with families to schedule testing sessions. More information on virtual assessments will be forthcoming in late August or early September.

Some parents are worried about special education services “disappearing” if Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)  are adjusted for distance learning. Can services be reinstated when the normal 30-hour instructional week resumes? 

Currently APS has announced a distance learning model for all students that includes 24 instructional hours. Schools are reviewing IEPs and reaching out to families to determine together if adjustments need to be made for students to access distance learning and make meaningful progress on their IEP goals, and to align IEPs with the 24 instructional hour model. These meetings should not be interpreted as a means to reduce services, but as a forum and opportunity to determine what students needs are during this instructional model. As APS returns to the face-to-face, 30-hour instructional model, IEP teams will meet again to similarly make needed adjustments together related to student needs in the 30 hour instructional model. As always, parent input is considered and documented as part of the IEP, and if adjustments are made, the required Prior Written Notice (PWN) form can be used to document why adjustments were made for the current instructional model.

Considerations for IEP Teams may include:

IEP Goals Do any goals need to be revised to reflect current student needs and instructional models?

    • For example: Social Emotional Learning and Behavior goals may be written to reflect a student’s application of skills with peers; however, if they are in a full distance learning model or only with peers face to face two days a week, the goal may need to be revised to reflect what is realistic to accomplish during this school year.
Accommodations Do accommodations need to be adjusted to facilitate distance learning? This might include:

  • Extended Time
  • Assignments chunks and prioritized
  • Frequent check-ins from staff to assist with work completion
  • Breaks
  • Adjusted schedule
Related Services Do any related services need to be adjusted to reflect what the student can access virtually?


How will my child’s special education services be delivered?

As indicated on students’ IEPs, special education services will be delivered virtually through the full-distance model, and will include a continuum of services including instruction in both general education settings and special education settings such as co-teaching, small group instruction, and/or instruction in special education settings as indicated on IEPs.

For example, if a student’s IEP indicated support provided in general education for mathematics, during the virtual math block a special education staff member might co-teach the session along with the general education teacher, or might work in a smaller virtual break-out room for part of the class to support a student with an IEP.

If a student’s IEP indicates that mathematics instruction will be delivered in a special education setting, then the student would receive mathematics instruction provided by a special educator in a smaller virtual group setting.

Below are a few examples of varying models of instructional service delivery. (Based on IEPs, some students might participate in a variety of models – for example, resource support for English/Language Arts and self-contained mathematics). Special education accommodations will be provided as outlined in IEPs.

Special education support in general education virtual classes
A special education teacher and or staff member under the guidance of a special education teacher would provide supports/services such as:

        • Reviewing online content before students engage with it
        • Pre-teaching content
        • Re-teaching content
        • Small group instruction within the general education virtual classroom
        • Providing instruction/support for executive functioning skills (i.e. organizing material, creating outlines, breaking down assignments, check-in with students to monitor work completion)

Self-contained classes/specialized programs (i.e. Shriver, MIPA, FLS)

        • Small-group instruction by certified teachers
        • Instructional Studies/Executive functioning addressed by teacher
        • Transition to Post-Secondary
        • Transition Coordinators will continue outreach to 8th-12th graders
          • Planning for a spectrum of post-secondary experiences
          • Vocational skills can be addressed by tasks done from home or programs such as TeachTown

How will the Parent Resource Center (PRC) be helping families during the coming year?

The PRC Coordinators will continue to offer virtual services and supports, and will:

    • Be available for individual parent consultations via phone and videoconferencing
    • Offer online parent learning opportunities
    • Continue to expand the PRC’s collection of digital tools and resources for parents
    • Share information, news and updates through weekly School Talk messages
    • Maintain and disseminate information on community supports for families such as webinars, meetings, resources, community services and tools
    • Collaborate with the Office of Special Education and the Department of Teaching and Learning to provide information, communication and supports to families
    • Participate in and support the Arlington Special Education Advisory Committee and Arlington SEPTA
    • With Arlington SEPTA, co-sponsor the Special Education Parent Liaisons program
    • Collaborate with the Office of Family Engagement, the Arlington Family Engagement Network, Virginia’s Special Education Family Engagement Network, and other community partners in strengthening family engagement initiatives within APS and the Arlington community
    • Participate in the Arlington Early Intervention Interagency Coordinating Council to support families of infants and toddlers ages zero to three
    • Participate in and collaborate with APS’ Transition Team to support families of students preparing for transitions from APS

The PRC Coordinators look forward to collaborating with staff and colleagues during the upcoming year, and can be reached at 703.228.7239 and/or