Return to Learn

Below you will find a list of Return to Learn Resources as well as a video from Dr. Barb Guy who provides an overview of Return 2 Learn concepts and guidance, orients the audience to the department's Return 2 Learn resources, and provides answers to some of the questions families most frequently contact the ASK an Advocate Helpline about regarding Return 2 Learn.

Q & A on concerns about IDEA Part C Evaluations & Assessment Times during COVID-19

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), within the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issues this Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C evaluation and assessment timelines in the current COVID-19 environment.

Read the PDF from the US Department of Education

Remote Learning vs Homebound vs Homeschool: Helping Education Leaders and Communities Identify the Key Differences

Sometimes people think that remote learning, homebound services, and homeschooling are the same thing, but they are not. Each have state specific policies and procedures for implementation. Remote learning is an alternative instructional learning model being utilized in school systems across the county in various ways as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Review the comparison below to understand the key differences in each and how IDEA provisions apply.

Read the NASDSE PDF

Infographic - Participating in Virtual IEP Meetings

At times, you may not be able to join a special education meeting in person. Fortunately, technology allows meetings to be held virtually, by phone or via the Internet. This is now happening with many different kinds of meetings-IEP Team meetings, mediations, resolution sessions, and due process hearings.

Check out the IDEAs that Work Infographic

Evaluating Sick Students and Staff - Reopening Iowa's Schools Safely and Responsibly

This is a chart showing the evaluation of sick students and staff, symptoms and how the schools will proceed.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

Procedural Safeguard Manual for Parents (Parental Rights in Special Education)

Parents have rights, known as procedural safeguards, which apply to every aspect of the special education process. State and federal laws and regulations outline what needs to happen to ensure that children with identified disabilities and on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). This document serves as your procedural safeguards notice and will help you understand the rights available to you and your child through a federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education.

Read the EducateIowa.Gov PDF

Considerations for IEP Teams Regarding How to Address Progress Monitoring

Progress monitoring is a scientifically based practice that is used to assess students' academic performance and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction. Progress monitoring can be implemented with individual students or with an entire class"

Read the AEA's Google Document

Community Transmission/Strategy Chart

This is a chart showing community transmission, suggested strategies and the return to learn models that go with each stage.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

FERPA, IEPs and Virtual Learning

This document is intended to answer common questions regarding obligations to meet FERPA requirements while serving learners with disabilities through virtual learning (i.e., Continuous Learning). It is not intended to provide a comprehensive discussion of FERPA regulations. This resource is organized around three topical areas of consideration: Virtual IEPs or other Confidential Meetings, Virtual Lessons and Collection of Data.

Read the AEA's Google Document

FAPE Considerations for Return to Learn

The disruption caused by the reaction to the coronavirus affected every area of society, including education. This disruption exposed the need for the education system to anticipate a significant interruption of services and be prepared to continue educational services. In order to support a fluid change in the delivery of services so that educational services are not interrupted in the future, IEP teams need to discuss and decide the services and supports a student will need in a variety of educational delivery models. Iowa schools are currently planning for three possible models: On-Site (brick and mortar), Hybrid, and Continuous Learning (virtual). Regardless of the delivery model used (On-Site, Continuous Learning/virtual, or Hybrid), districts must ensure that eligible individuals receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). FAPE is determined individually based on a complex intertwining of concepts, meaning that FAPE will look different for each eligible individual.

Read the AEA's Google Document

Virtual IEP Meeting Tip Sheets

This resource was developed in response to requests from state and local educational agencies and parents about how to hold and participate in virtual individualized education program (IEP) meetings. While intended to meet a need during the current COVID-19 pandemic, we hope the content will have broader application.

Read the IDEAs that Work PDF

Reopening Iowa's Schools Safely and Responsibly

This guidance was written by the Iowa Department of Education (Department) in consultation with the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) and is intended to help districts (1) determine when to use each of the Return-to-Learn models they have planned for during the 2020-2021 school year, and (2) handle potential and/or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in schools. This guidance should be read in conjunction with prior guidance on Return-to-Learn supports, Senate File 2310, and Reopening Guidance. Please consult the Department's Return-to-Learn Google site for the latest supports for schools.

Read the IDOE & IDPH - PDF

Electronic Signatures for IDEA Administrative Purposes

Electronic signatures are an acceptable and convenient means of obtaining consent for IDEA administrative purposes at any time. The convenience of electronic signatures has become even more apparent during this response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This support document provides reminders of when consent is needed for IDEA administrative procedures and suggestions for ways to obtain the electronic signature. The information provided here is not to be confused with consent to receive electronic information or privacy requirements for provision of teleservices.

Read the AEA's Google Document

Considerations for Acquiring Technology to Ensure Access of Students Receiving Special Education

As part of their Return-to-Learn plans, district and nonpublic school leaders are tasked with ensuring that remote learning options are available for all students, including those with disabilities. The following considerations were developed to assist administrators in planning for the need and acquisition of instructional and assistive technology, ensuring that all learners have the tools they require to participate and make progress in the Iowa Core Standards.

Read the AEA's Google Document

ASK an Expert Webinar with Dr. Barb Guy - Published August 2020

Dr. Guy provides an overview of Return 2 Learn concepts and guidance, orients the audience to the department's Return 2 Learn resources, and provides answers to some of the questions families most frequently contact the ASK an Advocate Helpline about regarding Return 2 Learn.

Watch the ASK an Expert Video

Return-to-Learn: IDEA Service Delivery Scenarios

The purpose of this document is to support teams in navigating between appropriate methods of service delivery for students in a Continuous Learning (i.e., virtual) model. These services can and may change throughout the school year and between settings as teams determine what is required to best meet student needs.

Read the AEA's Google Document

Senate File 2310 and Governor's Proclamation Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) related to guidance issued to help districts and schools implement the requirements of Senate File 2310 of the 88th General Assembly, signed into law on June 29, 2020, by Governor Reynolds. The FAQ is meant to be read with the original guidance. You may also wish to refer to Governor Reynolds' proclamation from July 17, 2020.

Read the IDOE Guidance PDF Here

School Accommodations and Modifications: A Parent and Child Checklist

It is important to identify, discuss, and include accommodations and modifications necessary to meet the specific needs of a student in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Students who receive services under a 504 Plan also need the same kind of individual attention to their plans for accommodations and modifications. The following checklist might be a good starting point for you and your child to think about his or her individual needs to include in the IEP or 504 Plan.

Read the PACER Center PDF

Q & A document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C provision of service in the current COVID-19 environment.

The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), within the U.S. Department of Education's (Department) Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, issues this Question and Answer (Q & A) document in response to inquiries concerning implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part C provision of service in the current COVID-19 environment.

Read the U.S. Department of Education PDF

COVID-19 Recovery Services for Learners Receiving IDEA Services Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - UPDATED 2/8/2022

Updated 2/8/2022 - COVID-19 Recovery Services are services that are provided in addition to services and supports identified in an eligible individual's IEP or IFSP. They are designed to address skills and content that was not taught, as well as the compounding effects of those skills not being taught due to closures related to COVID-19. Provision of COVID-19 Recovery Services is not an admission or concession that a public agency violated the IDEA. Recovery Services are intended to recoup lost skills or regain progress.

Read the IDOE PDF

Teacher-Family Collaboration Tool for Distance Learning

This document's purpose is to assist the teacher in organizing mental and physical space in preparation for initial family contact, relationship building with the family, gather information on their current reality, strengths, wants and needs, to identify and offer/connect the families with additional agencies, resources or support staff needed and to determine IEP services, supports and needs for on-site/virtual/hybrid instruction.

Read the Iowa AEA's PDF

Ensuring FAPE for Students with Disabilities during COVID-19: A Resource for Educators

Despite the ongoing challenges of COVID-19, the right to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities remains in place. As schools shift to more distance learning, teams of educators are left to redesign what FAPE looks like when they cannot be physically present with their students. That's why the Center, in partnership with the Diverse Learners Cooperative, has created a guide that offers a decision-making model that aims to balance individual student needs within a virtual learning context, as well as a range of exemplars showing how this model can be applied

Visit The Center for Learning Equity Website

9 Recommendations for Inclusive Learning Recovery for Students with Disabilities

Students have missed out on opportunities to learn and develop during the pandemic. In response, the federal government is providing billions of dollars to address "instructional loss". While states, districts, and schools pilot new approaches to promote learning recovery, these practices must be held to high standards, be accessible and inclusive to students with disabilities, and must have educators prepared to serve students with disabilities effectively and equitably. As organizations focused on supporting students with disabilities, their families, and the educators who serve them, we have identified the following recommendations as necessary tomaximize the impact for students with disabilities and ensure equitable access to strategies or learning recovery

Read the PDF from the National Center for Learning Disabilities

Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit Educating Communities on the Importance of COVID-19 Vaccines

CDC has designed this toolkit to help community-based organizations (CBOs) educate communities and promote this important prevention tool. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine is now available for everyone 12 years of age and older. New materials have been added to the toolkit to help answer frequently asked questions.

Visit the CDC Website

ED COVID-19 HANDBOOK Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has exacerbated existing inequities and inadequacies across a range of social structures, including our nation's education system. The pandemic has also had a more damaging impact on communities and people of color, including many who already faced health challenges. Congress has provided significant federal funding, including most rece

Read the DOE PDF

A Meeting Checklist for IEP Teams - Necessary discussions and decisions for different perspectives on the same team

Individualized Education Program (IEP) team members collaborate to create a plan and establish goals to address the unique needs of a student eligible for special education services. IEP teams also discuss and determine the most appropriate learning environments for a student. These checklists were developed during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist teams planning for unique learning environments, however many of the questions will be useful for IEP teams in other situations.

View the ASK Resource Webpage

Prior Written Notice

A Prior Written Notice (PWN) is a written explanation of a change the school district or AEA wants to make or refuses to make in a child's Individualized Educational Program (IEP). It is important that parents understand what the school plans to do (or not do) for their child. A PWN must give parents the information they need to actively participate in making decisions about their child's educational program and services.

View the Ask Resource Webpage

Sample Letter Requesting Prior Written Notice

This is an example letter for parents requesting written notice. The most important parts of the letter will be the blanks filled in with details from the parents! Parents are welcome to use part or all of the sample letter.

View the ASK Resource Webpage

Long COVID under Section 504 and the IDEA: A Resource to Support Children, Students, Educators, Schools, Service Providers, and Families

This resource is issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to provide information about long COVID as a disability and about schools'2 and public agencies' responsibilities for the provision of services and reasonable modifications to children and students for whom long COVID is a disability. The discussion here focuses on two Federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).3

Learn more from the US DOE

Sample Letter - Requesting an IEP Meeting During a School Closure

This letter is designed to be used during a school closure but could be changed to meet other situations when a family would like an IEP meeting. The details of a student's situation should be added to the sample letter before sending to a Special Education Teacher, Principal, Special Education Director or Superintendent. Remember to keep a copy for yourself, including the date it was sent.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

IEP Process during Covid-19

Important facts for families and IEP teams during the health crisis.

Learn more from ASK Resource Center

Long COVID under Section 504 and IDEA

This resource is issued jointly by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) to provide information about long COVID as a disability and about schools'2 and public agencies' responsibilities for the provision of services and reasonable modifications to children and students for whom long COVID is a disability. The discussion here focuses on two Federal laws: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and Parts B and C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).3

Learn more from the Office of Civil Rights

Return to School Roadmap: Child Find, Referral, and Eligibility (Oct. 29, 2021)

This Q&A document highlights that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), each state lead agencies and its early intervention service providers are responsible for implementing a child find system that identifies, locates, and evaluates, as early as possible, all infants and toddlers with disabilities, birth to age three, who may require early intervention services.

Read the US Department of Education PDF

Return to School Roadmap: Provision of Early Intervention Services (Oct. 29, 2021)

This Q&A document addresses the provision of Early Intervention Services for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families under Part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Read the US Department of Education PDF