Redesigning IEP / 504 Plans During the Pandemic

mother and child remote learning

What Happens to IEP and 504 Plans During the Pandemic?

As many schools move toward remote learning again this Fall, parents of children with special educational needs may be wondering what this means for Individualized Education Program (IEP) and 504 plans they had in place before the pandemic.

The mandate to provide educational services through IEP and 504 plans continues, but the implementation and content of those plans has been made more flexible.Susan Yellin, Esq., Director of Advocacy and Transition Services at The Yellin Center for Mind, Brain, and Education, gives an excellent overview of what’s changed. The bottom line is that any requirements that involves violating social distancing rules have been waived. This includes things like an in-person to set up a plan, or having occupational or physical therapy.

Most elements of typical plans can be translated into a remote learning situation, or are not as relevant – e.g., allowing more time to take exams. Making an effective transition requires parents and teachers to work cooperatively and creatively.

Transitioning IEP Programs to Remote Learning Situation

The basic steps in transitioning an IEP or 504 plan is reviewing its goals and accommodations to determine what can be carried over into the remote learning environment of the child. Some goals and the way they are measured may have to be recast into the context of the home environment.

Next, parents need to communicate with the teachers and members of their child’s IEP/504 team to talk through these revisions ahd make adjustments. Many teachers and schools are struggling with remote learning so extra time and effort may be required to get in touch and work through issues.

Lastly,keep the lines of communication open so the teacher knows what’s working and where adjustments might be needed.

In revising your child’s IEP / 504 plan, it helps to leverage online resources wherever possible. One excellent resource is Google’s Distance Learning for Special Education hub. Learning what other parents have done and are experiencing can also provide ideas – e.g., for example, the videos at this blog on Education Week.

The need to provide support for children with special needs isn’t going away with the pandemic. We just need to redesign it for our new reality.


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