Supporting Students During COVID-19
Dear Parents/Guardians of Students with Disabilities,
As the Aiken County Public School District works to continue supporting our families and community during this exceptionally challenging time, we want to assure you that the needs of exceptional learners are being taken into consideration. The US Department of Education and the South Carolina Department of Education continue to develop guidance for the provision of special education services during our school closures as a result of COVID-19. We are closely monitoring the guidance and updates and we are committed to partnering with you through clear communication.
Our current guidance is guided on the following documents:
- Fact Sheet: Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Schools (March 16, 2020)
- Questions and Answers for Providing Services to Children With Disabilities During the Coronavirus Disease Outbreak (March 16, 2020)
- Supplemental Fact Sheet Addressing the Risk of COVID-19 in Preschool, Elementary and Secondary Schools While Serving Children with Disabilities (March 21, 2020)
- COVID-19 and South Carolina Schools (March 25, 2020)
From these documents, we understand that our responsibility is to ensure that students with disabilities continue to be included in the same types of learning opportunities offered to students without disabilities and, to the greatest extent possible, each student with a disability be provided special education and related services identified in his or her IEP. More simply stated, we are to provide alternative modes of instructional delivery, where possible, and support student progress toward annual IEP goals.
When Governor McMaster announced the first closure, set to end March 31, the Department of Special Programs staff began planning learning activities that aligned with the district’s general education expectations while considering individual student IEP goals and accommodations. Our teachers and therapists quickly began developing supplemental, alternative academic, and therapy-based activities that were provided beginning Thursday, March 12, 2020 - the same time as all other students in the district. IEP meetings scheduled to take place during the initial closure period are being rescheduled to begin following spring break.
It has now been announced that the South Carolina schools do not plan to reopen until after April 30. The Department of Special Programs team will continue to follow all federal and state guidelines to make available the most appropriate, beneficial services and supports possible under these unique circumstances.
During this time of national emergency, our federal and state guidance is clear - we may not be able to provide all services or in the same manner they are typically provided. Specifically, it is unfeasible or unsafe to provide hands-on therapy (Physical, Occupational, ABA, and Speech/Language), but our therapy providers should be providing activities, as well as on-going communication with you and all of your child’s teachers. It is important to emphasize that federal disability law allows for flexibility in determining how to meet the individual needs of students with disabilities. Additionally, the determination of how a free appropriate public education is to be provided may need to be different in this time of unprecedented national emergency.
If there are services that are not provided in some manner, or it becomes apparent when school resumes, that skills have been lost, IEP teams will meet to make individualized determinations whether and to what extent additional services may be needed.
Lastly, we are finalizing efforts to provide the option of scheduling annual review IEP meetings using alternative means. If your child’s Annual Review or Re-evaluation meeting is due during the school closure, you will be contacted by your child’s Team Lead or Speech Therapist to discuss whether to schedule a phone/video conference or wait until school resumes.
Your student’s individual needs are very important to the Aiken County Public School District, as is the safety of everyone in our community. We hope that we can all work collaboratively during these difficult and uncertain times to appropriately and reasonably support your child’s learning needs.
We greatly appreciate your efforts to partner with us for the benefit of your child. If you have questions or concerns, we ask that you email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Welcome to Special Programs
The Aiken County Department of Special Programs meets the individual needs of students ages three through twenty-one who are eligible for special education and related services according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
A full continuum of services is available, ranging from the least restrictive to more restrictive environments, depending on the specific needs of the student. The department also supports schools in ensuring students with disabilities appropriately access the grade level standards and provides specialized instruction as determined necessary by the individualized education plan (IEP).In collaboration with students, schools, families, and the community, the Department of Special Programs assists students with disabilities in increasing academic performance and enhancing postsecondary options. Our department serves over 3,100 students by a faculty and staff of over 600 teachers, therapists and other specialists who are trained to provide specifically designed instruction and services designed to meet individual needs of children identified as having disabilities.
Special Programs News
2019 Special Programs Family Night
The 2019 Special Programs Family Night and Resource Fair was held at Midland Valley High School and a great time was had by all. Dinner was provided by the MVHS Culinary Arts students. A great big thank you for all who came out and made our program a great success!
Upcoming Special Programs Events
Special Programs Leadership
Special Programs Clerical Staff
Susan Faircloth, Secretary
803-641-2428 ext. 11553
Johnnetta Godbee, Secretary
803-641-2428 ext. 12614
Michelle Lee, Bookkeeper
803-641-2428 ext. 12613
Angela Miller, Secretary
803-641-2428 ext. 12718
Sheila Toole-Hinson, Secretary
803-641-2428 ext. 11586