Coronavirus and Schools: NOREP Language for Interim Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In a recent message, we offered the following observation: "We will not be able to convene hundreds of IEP team meetings—virtual or otherwise—in the next few weeks to adjust the IEPs of every student with a disability to reflect online learning, but we might be able to issue NOREPs to our parents notifying them briefly of the temporary adjustments in instruction we will be making during the COVID-related closures."
We recognize, of course, that issuing hundreds of NOREPs might prove daunting as well. We have therefore created the attached model language, and instructions in its use, which we hope simplifies this process.
Why issue a NOREP? Because the provision of “prior written notice” that fully informs parents of your plans, the reasons you are recommending them, and the reasons you rejected other options is the essence of the procedural requirements of the IDEA. While you might not be able to meet all of those requirements, the guidance we are receiving from both USDE and PDE certainly requires that we make every effort to comply where the circumstances allow.
Note that this NOREP, recommending an “emergency plan” to be implemented only during the period of mandated closure, does not affect the “pendent” program of the child and does not require alteration of the existing IEP. If existing IEPs require annual revision during the period of closure, those revisions should reflect the programming that will be in effect when schools reopen. They should therefore not incorporate the emergency plan and should be issued with a separate NOREP.
The above advice, and the attached NOREP language, represents one approach to addressing a totally novel circumstance. We cannot guarantee that this approach—or any approach short of implementing the full FAPE of each child during the period of closure—is foolproof or is sure to prevent successful demands for compensation by parents inclined to litigate. We do believe, however, that this approach offers a means of minimizing the damage that litigious parents will inflict.