Return to School - Roles and Responsibilities - Special Education

Find out the roles and responsibilities for related services and instructional support personnel involved in distance learning for students with disabilities.

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Distance learning requires the active contributions of many partners. Key roles and responsibilities for school personnel are differentiated and highlighted below.

Related Services

Speech-Language Pathologists

  • Provide direct services on a flexible continuum:
    • In-class instruction
    • Small group
    • Individual sessions
    • Combination of the above support via the online platform to address student IEP goals.
  • Join in classroom instruction as appropriate for the student, e.g. morning meeting, small group instruction in collaboration with the teacher.
  • Coach teachers and families on communication strategies to support distance learning.
  • Complete evaluations on-hold from the spring in addition to completing new referrals.

Occupational and Physical Therapists

  • Provide dynamic levels of support to students and families so they may access and participate in their virtual learning experience.
    • Join synchronous learning sessions
    • Provide small group or individual sessions
    • Review and appraise work samples (e.g. videos, pictures)
    • Provide coaching to parents and teachers on strategies to promote access to distance learning
  • Determine what equipment and/or adapted materials might be needed in the home environment to support access and make progress on IEP goals.
    • Arrange pick-up of equipment and/or materials and provide training to families (in conjunction with school administrators, following Health Department guidelines and using appropriate PPE).

School Psychologists and Social Workers

Support for Schools

  • Participate in LSC, Re-evaluation, Eligibility, IEP, and other meetings.
  • Provide consultation with special education teachers regarding support for social-emotional IEP goals during distance learning.
  • Collaborate with teachers to incorporate SEL lessons into synchronous learning.
  • Adapt SEL lessons/curricula to include for asynchronous learning opportunities.
  • Provide school-based and regional crisis response as needed.

Support for Students

  • Engage in targeted student outreach on a regular basis.  
  • Provide counseling to students demonstrating social, emotional, or mental health needs, including counseling as a related service as directed on the IEP.
  • School psychologists will provide behavioral consultation and support for students exhibiting significant behavioral needs, to include facilitating FBAs/BIPs as indicated.
  • School psychologists will conduct psychological evaluations for students being considered for special education services.

Support for Families

  • Provide counseling-related consultation to families of students receiving counseling services, including counseling as a related service as directed on the IEP.
  • Provide consultation services as requested by parents on how to support their student’s social and emotional well-being during distance learning.
  • Work with students and families to support ongoing services with private providers (e.g., psychiatrists, therapists).
  • Assist families with accessing community resources.
  • School Social Workers conduct Family Resource Meetings and provide CSA case management.
  • School Social Workers will offer parent/guardian virtual sociocultural assessments for special education testing.

Instructional Support

Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHOH)

  • Provide direct and indirect support to hearing impaired/deaf students to ensure that their amplification equipment is working properly, that they are engaged with the same learning as their hearing peers, and that they are able to access content.
  • Join in classroom instruction in a similar way that they did in face-to-face learning (pre-COVID closure). 
  • In conjunction with Teachers of the Deaf/hard of hearing and Educational Audiologists, school staff will have access to online resources which will help students and parents troubleshoot hearing equipment. Educational Audiologists will make themselves available to troubleshoot equipment virtually, as necessary. 
  • Hearing Services will publish enhanced internet resources to support online learning for students with hearing impairments.

Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVIs)

  • Provide direct and indirect support to VI students to ensure that their technology is working properly, that they are engaged with the same learning as their sighted peers, and that they can access content (e.g. screen readers, magnification devices, specialized monitors).
  • Join in classroom instruction in a similar way that they did in face-to-face learning (pre-COVID closure).
  • Have embossers in their home to produce necessary materials that cannot be delivered electronically.
  • Vision services will publish enhanced internet resources to support online learning for students with vision impairments.

Adapted Physical Education Teachers

  • Join in PE instruction in a similar way that they did in face-to-face learning (pre-COVID closure).
  • Work with school teams to collaboratively plan synchronous & asynchronous PE learning activities.  
  • Provide direct and indirect support and instruction during PE class to ensure that students are engaged in learning, accessing content, and to deliver instruction toward IEP goals. 
  • Work with school teams, parents, and students to ensure they are receiving assignments, learning materials and lessons in a timely and accessible manner.   
  • Collaborate with school teams, students, and parents to provide additional modifications to learning activities as needed and general or specific activities to support a student's IEP goal.

Assistive Technology Resource Teachers

  • Collaborate with school-based technology teams and special education teams to implement assistive technology (AT) accommodations for student learning.
  • Distribute assistive technology devices, software and extensions to students.
  • Provide training for students, school staff & families in the utilization of appropriate AT accommodations in virtual learning environments.
  • Continue developing asynchronous online support resources that promote the use of AT in diverse learning environments.
  • Promote student & family understanding of appropriate technology accommodations such as word prediction, text to speech, speech to text, augmentative communication, etc.
  • Continue participation in IEP teams to determine appropriate AT student accommodations.
  • Develop virtual AT evaluation processes for student specific AT placements.


  • Assist in building strong student relationships and positive classroom community
  • Provide regularly scheduled check-ins for at-risk students
  • Assist in establishing classroom expectations
  • Support newly established routines and procedures
  • Monitor chat window for student questions and responses
  • Check for understanding and student engagement
  • Meet with students to provide feedback to an individual or small group of students
  • Re-teach a concept to an individual student or a small group
  • Model positive language for students
  • Work with a small group of students to review, read material aloud, or play a game
  • Assist the teacher in creating online instructional materials as needed
  • Collect data related to student IEP goals

Behavior Intervention Teachers

  • Provide behavioral intervention support as needed.
  • Assist teachers with incorporating behavioral best practices in a virtual learning environment.
  • Consult and collaborate with parents/guardians as needed on behavioral strategies to support online learning in the home environment.
  • Provide training & resources incorporating behavioral best practices in the virtual environment.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Coaches

  • Build staff capacity in Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior through embedded coaching. 
  • Work with staff to enhance the delivery of services using ABA methodologies, including the support of the development and implementation of individualized instructional curricula and behavioral programming.
  • Support parents through parent training and developing materials and videos.

When a Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist, Speech-Language Pathologist, or School Social Worker works  in a real-time, multimedia format (Blackboard Collaborate Ultra Session, Google Meet), parental consent must be obtained for services to occur in this manner in order to comply with HIPAA requirements and the Virginia Department of Health Professions licensure laws. School Psychologists must also obtain parental consent to provide telehealth services to students.

Return to School

We will begin the 2020-21 school year with virtual learning for all students. The online school year will begin, as scheduled, September 8.
View FCPS Return to School Information

Return to School: Supports for Students with Disabilities

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