Coronavirus and Schools: Communications with Parents Concerning Virtual ESY (Follow Up)
We have of course already sent “regular” ESY NOREPs to families of eligible students. Those NOREPs included the caveat that you had previously suggested we add in the “other considerations” box: “This offer of ESY services is contingent upon the reopening of schools.” Must we send a new NOREP outlining virtual services, or can we instead send an individualized letter describing the virtual services that will be provided?
The caveat you added to your original ESY NOREP certainly makes clear that you will not be providing in-person, brick-and-mortar ESY if schools are closed. (We suggested that language back when “continuity of education,” and all that comes with it, was barely a glint in the eye of Secretary Rivera of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Ah, the good old days of mid-March!). This caveat language does not make clear what, if any, ESY services you will provide if schools are closed. And so here we are, required under both the IDEA and Act 13 to provide some form of “written notice” to parents of our “continuity of education” plans for their ESY-eligible children. It’s possible, of course, that we might already have done that in the NOREPs or letters we have already provided concerning virtual special education. Some LEAs might have been thorough enough in their initial notices that new notices are unnecessary to address virtual ESY. Based on what we’ve seen to date, that would not appear to be the case—but it’s possible. The question, both under the IDEA and under Act 13, will always be whether the parents reasonably understood from the LEA’s NOREP, or letter, exactly what the plan was for their individual child.
Whether that ESY notice takes the form of a NOREP or a sufficiently-detailed letter does not matter. If you prefer to use a letter to provide child-specific “written notice” of your virtual ESY plans, that’ll do.