Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Joint Statement on Serving Students with Disabilities During COVID-19 Outbreak

The South Dakota Department of Education Special Education Programs, South Dakota Parent Connection, and Disability Rights South Dakota remain committed to the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  We believe the rights of all students with disabilities must be maintained, even during school closures, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  

It is our firm belief, despite the unprecedented challenge facing districts and families, that students with disabilities will be served by parties coming together to make decisions on how to provide services in a manner that ensures the health and safety of all parties and that allows for meaningful progress on IEP goals and educational standards.     

During this time, we encourage all parties to keep communication lines open and work together. Meetings may need to be held by phone or video conferencing, but time and effort should be on ensuring continued provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education for students with disabilities to meet the IEP goals and services. At the conclusion of this outbreak, IEP teams can assess if services provided allowed the student to make sufficient progress on goals and educational standards, and then determine if any additional or compensatory services should be made available due to any limitations in the provision of a Free Appropriate Public Education.      

Thank you for your attention to the health and safety of students and educational providers during this time. We will get through this by working together. If you have questions during this time, please feel free to reach out to the Special Education Program representative for your regionSouth Dakota Parent Connection, or Disability Rights South Dakota.

Friday, March 20, 2020

A message from the Secretary: Thank you

Dear South Dakota teachers and school personnel,

It’s hard to believe it’s only been two weeks that we have been dealing with school closures in South Dakota. I’m sure it feels much longer.

Your response has been remarkable. The vital in-person classroom connection that approximately 10,000 educators across South Dakota share with some 135,000 students was suddenly cut. But the need remains the same. And now we see you establishing new kinds of connections with your students with creativity, innovation, and courage.

From what I’ve observed over these past seven days, I’m confident that if this virus could be beaten by your unwavering devotion to your students and your tremendous flexibility in the face of these sudden and unprecedented challenges, you all would have conquered it by Tuesday.

However long this crisis endures, please know that your dedication serves as an example to all of us.

Thank you for everything you’re doing for South Dakota students.

Benjamin F. Jones, PhD
Secretary of Education