Special Education COVID-19 Resources For Parents
Please know that The Arc is staying on top of the evolving information that is important to parents. The Arc is collaborating with Jeffco, Clear Creek, and Gilpin school district’s Special Education leadership to ensure every student with a disability is engaged in learning. Please continue to check this page of The Arc's website for reliable information, resources, and alerts.
If you have individual advocacy questions, please make an advocacy request here: https://www.arcjc.org/gethelp/advocacy/askanadvocate.html
This semester, going “back-to-school” can be successful by remembering a few tips. Following our Back2School Tips below will help you gradually prepare your child for the rest of the school year.
TIP #1: Wearing a Mask
As you know, all students returning to school should wear a mask. For kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities, it may be hard to put on and leave on a mask throughout the school day. To help your child become more comfortable with these tasks, we offer the following ideas:
- Practice wearing a mask now, at home. Gradually increase the time your child is wearing a mask (e.g., 15 min, then 20 min…up to an hour) and try to tie it to a task like playing a game or listening to a story. Your child should be able to put the mask on and take the mask off independently.
- Read stories about superheroes that wear a mask. Let your child be a “superhero” in his or her mask. Ask your child what the superhero thinks about the mask and how the superhero might be feeling about wearing a mask. Be creative.
- Teach your child the importance of not sharing his/her mask. A mask is like a piece of clothing. Your child wouldn’t share his/her shirt, so never share your mask. A superhero would never share their mask.
- Keep the mask clean by washing with soap every night and hanging it to dry, so it’s ready in the morning.
- When your child goes back to school, be sure the mask is labeled with your child’s name.
- Send your child to school with 2 masks and have an appropriate container for your child's mask(s).
TIP #2: Washing vs Sanitizing Hands
Handwashing is the easiest, cheapest, and most effective way to prevent germs from spreading. For decades, handwashing has been a healthy habit at home, school and work. Now more than ever, this habit plays an integral role in your child’s health. Tip #2 offers ideas on helping your child develop this essential lifelong skill:
- Handwashing can be taught in five simple steps. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse & dry.
- Wet your hands with clean, warm running water, turn the water off, and apply soap.
- Lather up by rubbing hands together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
- Scrub for at least 20 seconds. Make it fun and have your child sing or hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end ( If your child is a fast singer, have them sing it twice!). Or you can choose another short song and time it for 20 seconds so your child knows when to stop in the future.
- Rinse hands thoroughly under clean, running water.
- Dry hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
- Key times to wash hands is before eating and after using the bathroom. It is also important to remember to wash after touching pets, and after playing outside.
- Give frequent reminders to your child to wash his/her hands. Schedule hand washing breaks into your days now because at school, your child will be required to follow a handwashing schedule throughout the school day.
- The goal is for handwashing to become an independent habit and a regular part of your child’s day. Lead by example by regularly washing your hands, too.
- Sometimes, soap and water are not available, so you may need to use a hand sanitizer. It is best to have one that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Know that hand sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs, but it can significantly reduce the number of germs on one’s hands.
- Supervise your child’s use of hand sanitizer and teach your child that hand sanitizer is poison and should NEVER be eaten. If your child ingests hand sanitizer, it can cause alcohol poisoning, so call the Poison Control Center.
- You may be tempted to use baby wipes as a way of cleansing your hands. That’s a start but, know they are not designed to destroy germs like soap or sanitizer. So, while they may “clean” your child’s hands, they will not “disinfect” their hands.
- When Applying hand sanitizer, think, “Squirt & Rub:”
- Squirt the recommended about of hand sanitizer in the palm of your hand. Read label for correct amount.
- Rub your hands together for about 20 seconds, making sure you get gel on all surfaces of hands and fingers, and until hands are dry.
- Last, but not least, wash hands after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose.
TIP #3: Social Distancing/Physical Distancing
One of the more challenging aspects of your child’s in-person school day will be Social Distancing, or Physical Distancing. Knowing “personal space” boundaries can sometimes be confusing for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Now, having to increase our physical distance, it becomes even more challenging and confusing in the school setting. To help your child understand Social Distancing, we offer the following ideas:
- Talk to your child about keeping space between themselves and their classmates and teachers. Explain that he/she may have to wait in a line to get inside the school building and there will be more space between all the people.
- Explain why it’s important to have space between people. (i.e., germs make people sick, but germs can’t jump very far, so staying away from people helps stop the germs).
- Help your child understand what “6 feet apart” looks like by making a game of finding items that are 6 feet, such as the length of a bed, a sofa, the height of a refrigerator or a foam pool noodle. Your child’s classroom will be set-up so that student desks are at least 6 feet away from each other. With masks, teachers will be allowed to be closer to your child.
- Many school buildings will have arrows for one-way directions, tape to indicate where to stand in line for proper distancing, and “wait here” spots. Help your child identify these by noticing them out in the community (e.g., grocery stores, shopping malls, doctor offices). You can even use tape on the floor at home to practice.
- Role play with your child how he/she will greet friends and teachers without touching. For now, we cannot give a regular hug, high five or fist bump. But we can wave, do an “up in the air high five,” or an air hug, but NO TOUCH!
TIP #4: Symptom Screening
As your child enters school, he/she will undergo a Symptom Screening process. Practicing the screening process with your child now, will make it easier for your child to answer the screening questions when they get to school. Keep these ideas in mind:
- Before your child will be allowed to class, he/she will be asked if they are currently experiencing symptoms such as a cough, sore throat or runny nose. To be sure they don not have a fever, their temperature will be taken.
- Practice with your child every morning by asking them if they are “experiencing a cough, sore throat or runny nose.” Also check for other signs of illness (e.g., nausea or vomiting, headache, diarrhea, body aches). If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, obviously keep him/her home.
- If you child experiences allergies, be sure to teach them the differences in allergy symptoms vs. feeling sick symptoms.
- If you know your child has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you must keep your child home. Check with your school for details.
Jeffco Public Schools has Social Stories to help children understand how school will be different in the fall. Reading these stories can help relieve anxiety they may have about going back to school. You can access the social story about these tips and more by clicking this link.
New Jeffco Special Education Resources
Jeffco Schools’ Special Education Leadership team recognizes the importance of timely and effective communication with Jeffco families and their community. As a result, it has added TWO new resources to their Special Education website that you can access by CLICKING HERE.
New resources include:
- A NEW Special Education Support Line* at 303-982-6682 families can call to get help answering questions related to:
- 2020 - 2021 School Restart Plan
- Special Education and Related Services Available
- Special Education Regulations & Procedural Safeguards
- Transferring to Jeffco
- School-Related Concerns
*Be sure to consult with school staff BEFORE calling the Support Line.
- Virtual Community Forums throughout the year for sharing information with the community in a timely manner. During these forums, YOUR SUBMITTED QUESTIONS will be answered. CLICK HERE to see the schedule of Community Forums. To register and to submit your questions for any of the forums, click on either English or Spanish under RSVP on the website and complete the form.