Return to School - Frequently Asked Questions and Answers - Special Education

Answers to common questions about Child Find, evaluations, reevaluations, eligibility, IEPs, 504 Plans, and special education instruction.

Child Find

How can I participate in the local screening committee meeting? 

Each school’s local screening committee (LSC) chair will work with parents to schedule the LSC meeting at a mutually agreed upon date and time. Most meetings will continue to be conducted virtually through tele or video conferences. Some meetings may be held in person with appropriate social distancing protocol.


How do I give consent for evaluations if they are proposed and I am not able to attend in person? 

After the school team proposes evaluations for a student, the local screening chair or case manager will send an electronic version of the Notice and Consent for Evaluation form. A parent may either print, sign, scan, and email the form back, or electronic consent may be provided via reply email. 

When and how will the evaluations be completed if I am participating in online instruction? 

Can evaluations be completed at my home or by virtual process? Schools are currently scheduled to reopen in July or August as needed for Summer Clinic. Select evaluations will be held with appropriate social distancing and personal protective equipment in designated schools. Summer Clinic staff will be in contact with parents and school staff to schedule evaluations based upon when the evaluation was requested. We are not able to conduct evaluations in the home. Staff are developing methods for appropriate, select evaluations conducted in person and/or virtual format. Summer Clinic evaluations will begin the week of July 13, 2020.


How can I participate in interpretive and eligibility meetings? 

The interpretive conference to discuss completed evaluation results and eligibility meeting may be held either virtually or in select situations in designated schools.

Individualized Education Programs/504 Plans

When will my child’s IEP or 504 Plan meeting be held? 

Case managers will contact parents to schedule an IEP meeting prior to the start of school. IEP addendums may be developed within virtual meetings, or without a meeting, if parents agree. Meetings will be held at mutually agreeable dates and times, in person or via teleconference or videoconference to plan for when school reopens. 504 knowledgeable committees will meet as needed to address any necessary adjustments to accommodations or services. 

I would like to schedule an IEP addendum/504 Plan, how do I make that request?
Parents may address concerns or possible IEP or 504 meeting needs with their child’s school or Procedural Support Liaison. A list of PSLs by school can be found here:

What if I am not in agreement with the IEP/504 Plan? 

Parents who are in disagreement or have concerns with the IEP/504 Plan may contact the student’s school principal, Procedural Support Liaison (PSL), or Due Process and Eligibility at 571-423-4470 or to discuss next steps. 

How does the Reopening of Schools Plan address the needs of students with disabilities? 

Students with disabilities will not be issued a temporary learning plan. IEP teams will addend the IEP in August to reflect services the student will receive in the all virtual or hybrid option. Teachers working in the virtual option will be conducting synchronous instruction 4 days a week. 


How will common accommodations such as movement breaks, chewies, fidgets, flexible seating, etc. be administered in online and in-person options? 

If a student requires an accommodation such as a fidget or movement cushion in person, those will be provided to the student and not shared between students.  If those same accommodations are required in the home environment, we will be sending those required supplies home as well.
How will testing accommodations be provided to students?

Test accommodations will be provided as they typically are during the in-person instruction. If needed, school staff will be given guidance around ways to provide required accommodations during testing in the virtual environment.  An example of how a test accommodation might be provided during virtual instruction is utilizing a paraprofessional to read a test aloud to a student and then for the student to respond with a verbal response rather than a written response.

Related Services

How will Related Services be provided in both options?

Special education teachers and related service providers will be providing instruction in groups and one-on-one as appropriate for students’ goals and scheduling.  For students who receive related services who selected the in-person option for instruction, the service will be scheduled as part of one of their days in school.  The service may be provided individually or as part of a small group.  Appropriate PPE and social distancing will be observed.  In some cases, in-person services may be supplemented by virtual services during asynchronous instructions days.

Are students who receive instruction online able to receive in-person Related Services?

Students in full-time online learning will receive their services through the online format either in small group or one-on-one as appropriate for the students’ needs.  FCPS is considering offering in-person related services to students in the online environment on Mondays during intervention time as determined by the IEP team.


Will Special Education Programs that have low class sizes and/or unique facilities such as: Comprehensive Services Site programs, DHOH programs, Self-contained Programs, Enhanced Autism Classes, and Public Day Schools like Burke School, Cedar Lane, Quander Road, Kilmer Center and Key Center be able to increase the amount of in-person instruction? 

FCPS staff is considering the possibility of students attending specialized programs full-time 4 days a week. The number of students and adults in classrooms must be taken into account when planning to meet the social distancing guidelines outlined by the CDC and the Health Department.  

What are the plans for Early Childhood Special Education and Preschool Autism Classrooms (PAC)?

During the school year, teachers will provide intensive small group and large group instruction to address IEP goals and curriculum during face-to-face learning.  Teachers will reach out to parents for coaching sessions to address natural learning opportunities in the home.   Additionally, other asynchronous activities will be provided for students to access. During online learning, teachers will instruct students in both large and small groups virtually to address IEP goals and curriculum. Both synchronous and asynchronous learning will be provided along with weekly coaching sessions for parents.

Will there be online social skills groups? How will social/emotional IEP goals be addressed in the online format? Will there be online opportunities for kids to meet and interact with each other without the intervention of an adult?

School Counselors, School Psychologists, and School Social Workers have been providing services and support in asynchronous and synchronous formats. Often these are in collaboration with teachers and other clinical staff. Clinicians will need to assess online time and in person time as students reenter school. 

Social emotional and mental health resources will be available to support students this fall. Schools may use morning meetings/ check-ins, intervention blocks, or advisory periods to provide instruction on social emotional topics using new and existing curriculum. FCPS instructional staff will have required professional development that focuses on understanding mental wellness and appropriate tools to support students. Clinical and counseling staff will provide mental health support and resources, including group counseling and consultation for students and families as needed as well as individual counseling with students and related consultation with families and staff. 

Students will not have the opportunity to socialize with individual students outside the educational setting utilizing FCPS online platforms due to supervision concerns.

How will FCPS support parents of students with IEPs so that they can support their children at home in both options (face-to-face or online learning)? 

FCPS staff is reviewing options for a central portal for parent training. The Parent Resource Center and other offices all have their own courses and the goal is to store these trainings in an easy to find location and to ensure this information is communicated with the parent community.

With regard to related services equipment and supplies, staff will provide in-person training, especially if the equipment was new to the parent (e.g. adapted seating system) and if there was a safety component involved.
Many special education students require parent support to complete school work. There is a concern that grading will penalize special education students who will struggle with online instruction and on asynchronous days. Will teachers adjust student workload, output, and grading expectations taking these support needs into account? 

IEP/504 teams should consider all appropriate accommodations that a child requires to access instruction.

How will Instructional Assistant (IA) services be implemented in both online and in-person classes?

  • In-person: IAs will continue to fulfill their normal role: creating materials, working with students in large and small group under the direction of the teacher. 
  • Virtual: Supporting students in virtual classrooms and in breakout rooms; creating materials; prompting parents when needed during lessons; developing virtual activities under the guidance of the teacher.

Will special education teachers and related service providers be instructing my child in a small group or will it be individualized? 

Special education teachers and related service providers will be providing instruction in groups and one-on-one as appropriate for students’ goals and scheduling. 

How will special education students who are accessing an adapted curriculum and are assessed with the Virginia Alternate Assessment Program (VAAP) be instructed during the full time online and in-person instruction with social distancing options? 

  • In-person: 
    Classrooms for students who are accessing an adapted curriculum will be expected to follow the same social distancing expectations defined by FCPS for students who are wearing face coverings and, as needed, for students who are unable to wear face coverings due to their developmental level. Staff will set the expectation, model, and instruct on the importance of social distancing and wearing face coverings.  
  • Online:
    Instruction provided to students who are accessing an adapted curriculum virtually will occur synchronously (live) four days a week. Direct instruction may be supplemented with activities which can be completed by the student in addition to the synchronous instruction. Some students accessing an adapted curriculum will need the support of a parent/caregiver to participate in online instructional activities. The schedule for classes will parallel the schedule for students receiving in-person instruction as much as is appropriate for the student. 

If a student was using a research-based specialized instructional program in school, will that continue during the full-time online option? 

FCPS staff have been working with the different vendors to determine how programs can be used during full time online instruction. Depending on the program, and the ability to use aspects of certain programs, it is expected that instruction using the research-based programs may look different than it does during face-to-face instruction.

How will special education preschool students be instructed during the online and in-person instruction with social distancing options? 

During the school year, teachers will provide intensive small group and large group instruction to address IEP goals and curriculum during in-person learning. They will reach out to parents for coaching sessions to address natural learning opportunities in the home.  Additionally, other asynchronous activities will be provided for students to access. During online learning, teachers will instruct students in both large and small groups to address IEP goals and curriculum. Both synchronous and asynchronous learning will be provided along with weekly coaching sessions for parents.

How are vision and hearing services going to be provided during the online and in-person instruction with social distancing options? 

Hearing and vision teachers will support access to communication and participation in both the online and in-person learning environments for students with hearing and visual impairments. Services will range from collaboration and consultation with teachers and school teams to real-time, multimedia interaction with families and students. Additionally, hearing and vision teachers will work with classroom teachers and case managers regarding the expectations for presentation of instructional materials. They will also assist families to understand how to implement appropriate accommodations such as closed captioning, educational interpreting services, and visual supports in the online environment. During face to face learning, vision and hearing teachers will provide direct services to available students in-person, and will prioritize essential skill development.

Will my students have access to their communication devices during the online option? 

Assistive technology resource teachers are assisting students and families with the implementation of appropriate assistive technology accommodations in online learning environments. Items can be made available if determined essential to distance learning. Questions can be directed to the student’s case manager or assistive technology resource teacher.

How will my students access adapted physical education?
Adapted physical education teachers will consult and collaborate with health and physical education teachers to modify activities/lessons to meet student needs and problem solve around challenges that may occur across learning environments. Additionally, they will develop instructional activities and strategies that support student success in an online environment. Questions can be directed to the student’s adapted physical education teacher.

What happens to students in WAT and EFE and other similar classes/programs? 

High school students in these courses will be receiving instruction during their designated class time similar to the other classes on their schedule. For students choosing full time on-line instruction, work readiness skills instruction will continue through on-line curricula supplemented by instructional activities that incorporate skills and tasks that can be worked on at home. Work-based readiness skills instruction for all students enrolled in these classes/programs will continue through on-line curriculum and work-related hands-on activities. Community work experience for students choosing in-person instruction will resume based on parent permission, employer participation, scheduling, and transportation considerations.

Can I access behavior support for my child at home during the online option? 

Office of Special Education Instruction staff are available to provide behavioral intervention support as needed in both the online and in-person learning environments, assist teachers with incorporating behavioral best practices in an online learning environment, consult and collaborate with parents/guardians as needed on behavioral strategies to support online learning in the home environment, and provide district training and resources for supporting the learning environment incorporating behavioral best practices.

For students with an IEP, are there any services or programs that will not be available online? 

Some supports and services provided to students with disabilities in a face-to-face environment were designed to provide access to the learning environment within the physical school setting. Not all of these same supports and services are appropriate and feasible in the distance learning environment. Special education case managers and related services providers are expected to collaborate with parents regarding supports and services that will be provided in the distance learning and face-to-face environments. 

Due to copyright restrictions by some of the publishers of certain research-based instructional programs, it is expected that instruction using the research-based programs will look different in the virtual environment than it does during face-to-face instruction.
Homebound services may be provided to students who have a medical condition preventing them from participating in classroom instruction because they are confined to home or a healthcare facility. Those choosing the online education option will not be eligible for homebound services. 
See Special Services questions for additional information about School Psychology and School Social Work.

Health and Safety

How will routine clinic visits, such as daily medication administration or diabetes monitoring be handled?  Will children who are not sick be kept in a separate room from children presenting with symptoms of Covid-19 or other illnesses?

FCPS is working in collaboration with the Fairfax County Health Department regarding the Care of the Sick and Injured in the health rooms. This guidance will directly address establishment of an isolation room and the criteria for use, staffing, and routine procedures such as daily medication administration and diabetes care.

What sanitation measures are being put in place for children with physical disabilities who require high levels of support for activities of daily living, such as toileting, feeding, and use of a wheelchair? 

Staff would follow universal precautions to minimize any cross contamination between students and staff.  That would include using and changing gloves and other PPE, use of sanitizer to clean surfaces, and hand washing in between students.
What level of PPE will staff have provided to them? 

Staff will be provided with appropriate PPE for their job duties. This may include face shields, gowns, gloves, masks, etc.

If a student with a disability removes or refuses to wear a mask, will this be treated as a discipline issue? How will this be enforced for different ages and student abilities? 

The expectation to wear facial (mouth and nose) coverings has been and will continue to be communicated to parents, students and staff.  Staff will set the expectation, model, instruct on the importance of this measure, positively reinforce and know that there will be some challenges due to the various developmental levels of students.  The compliance to this requirement will consider factors of student understanding and needs based on developmental levels, similar to other expectations set by schools. Teams often consider individual factors when addressing behavioral concerns and this will be the same for the practice of wearing facial coverings/masks.

Return to School - Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for Families

View the Return to School FAQs for Families

Roles and Responsibilities

Find out the roles and responsibilities for school personnel within each level of instructional programming for students with disabilities.
View Roles and Responsibilities - Special Education

Return to School: Supports for Students with Disabilities

FCPS has developed a plan for distance learning supports for students with disabilities.
View Supports for Students with Disabilities