The Murrieta Valley Unified School District’s board of education heard a presentation regarding special education in the virtual environment during a special meeting of the board Thursday, Oct. 22.
Zhanna Preston, Ed.D., executive director of special education, opened the presentation for the board members.
“Our virtual specialist instruction has evolved since last spring, our special education teachers and related service providers, such as speech, occupational, physical and mental health therapists are utilizing canvas to provide easy access to our students,” Preston said. “Our teachers are utilizing a consistent schedule and use videos, pictures, detailed instructions, infographics. Also, these lessons have scheduled breaks with timers for the students, and these are helpful to motivate our students to stay engaged and they progress toward their academic, social, emotional organizational and life skills goals.
“Teamwork has always been an element and a critical component of the IEP, especially distribution in general. Now during the school closures, it has become more important for coordination of our services and teamwork,” Preston said.
Preston showed some examples of IEP classrooms in a slide presentation.
A staff member from behavioral health services also gave a presentation.
“We’ve been providing our related services in the virtual setting, such as speech and occupational therapy, but this also includes our counseling services,” she said. “Our mental health providers have been successfully reaching out to students on the virtual platform. Some students have even shared that they prefer this method as it feels safer and more confidential.
“Our therapists have also been able to engage with families virtually. It’s been easier for many families as there’s no drive time to the session and you have direct access to the therapists’ calendars. We’re also very grateful that our mental health therapists have adjusted their schedules to accommodate families to meet their needs and not disrupt the class time by setting hours up to 6:30 p.m.
“We’re also very proud of our physical therapist, Rachel Carpenter, the service, which we thought would be the most difficult to do virtually. She has shown great success. Her days are packed with back to back sessions,” the behavioral health staff member said.
Another staff member gave a report on student support.
“Many of our students with disabilities have had a challenging time accessing their instruction through the virtual environment,” he said. “We’re very excited. We’ve been able to partner with our parents and staffing agencies to provide in-home support for students there. Currently we have more than 45 students receiving in-home aid support to facilitate their education. Initially we had seven students receiving support from licensed vocational therapists in the home. This is how this would be able to meet IEP requirements and help students access the virtual instruction. We had a lot of great successes and feedback from our families.”
“I just wanted to add here too, that we were one of the few districts that really started this type of support in the home,” Preston said. “And there were really challenges associated with providing this for this, especially at the beginning of the pandemic. And a lot of work was put into working with companies, making sure that the contracts are properly reflecting the requirements and promoting safety to their staff. And at the same time, the comfort levels for our parents who would also would allow a stranger to come into the home.”
The trustees also approved the personnel report, athletic coaches for fall season coaches and approved an agreement with Grand Canyon University to allow students enrolled the opportunity to complete their fieldwork in the Murrieta Valley Unified School District.
In closed session, the trustees sat in on negotiations with designated representatives to discuss labor negotiations with the Murrieta Educators Association and California School Employees Association – Murrieta Chapter 223.
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.