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Special Education Guidance From DESE

COVID-19 Information and Resources HERE

This page will provide information for schools about the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), and will be updated as additional guidance is available. For comprehensive emergency management planning information and related resources, visit the emergency management planning for schools web pages.

School Meals

On March 12, the USDA approved Massachusetts’ waiver request to allow schools where at least 50 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals to continue providing meals to students during a school closure. We also received approval to have these meals served in an appropriate format, such as a “grab-and-go” option, for students to take home.

On March 13, DESE sent out detailed guidance to all school districts and existing USDA Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) sponsors detailing how to be approved to serve meals during a school closure and what the USDA reimbursement options are. Community-based organizations that participated in SFSP during summer 2019 are eligible to serve and claim meals for reimbursement to help supplement school districts’ meal distribution effort.

Schools that have a student free and reduced-price percentage under 50 percent can choose to provide meals at their own discretion during a school closure, but DESE cannot currently approve those meals for USDA reimbursement. Therefore, non-federal funds must be used to cover costs at this time. These schools should focus on households of enrolled free and reduced-price students and ensure that proper meal counting and adherence to the federal meal pattern is maintained in the event we receive new USDA guidance allowing federal reimbursement.

Schools need to contact their assigned DESE School Nutrition or Special Nutrition (SFSP option) Program consultants to discuss how to be approved for USDA reimbursement.

As meal distribution sites are approved, DESE will work with Project Bread to ensure the public is notified of student meal site locations and service times. In the meantime, please promote meal sites locally.

Counselors at Project Bread’s FoodSource Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 are available to connect your community to food resources in their community as well as provide them with information about elder meals programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as food stamps. The hotline will continue to operate Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturdays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and can provide information in 160 languages.

Non-congregate meal site information can now be found through Project Bread’s School Closure Meal Site Finder

DESE Resources:

School Closure Process:

As of March 16, 2020, all public and private K-12 schools (except residential and day schools that serve students with disabilities) will be closed starting March 17 and will not reopen before April 6. Schools or districts that decide to be closed beyond those parameters are asked to:

  1. Contact their local Board of Health. District leaders may also wish to call DPH’s 24/7 epidemiology at 617-983-6800 but should be aware of the large volume of calls coming into that number.
  2. Contact Associate Commissioner Helene Bettencourt at  or 781-338-3120.

Large Events:

On March 13, 2020, Governor Baker issued an emergency order prohibiting gatherings of more than 25 individuals beginning on March 17 and effective until April 6.

180 School Day Requirement:

In light of concerns about possible school closings for public health reasons, Commissioner Riley has updated DESE’s guidance about the requirement for 180 days of school to provide relief to districts. (Note: The Department will continue to revisit this guidance if the situation warrants it.):

  1. All days lost to health, weather, or safety emergencies between the first day of the school year and March 15 must be made up by rescheduling full school days to ensure a 180-day school year.
  2. All days lost to health, weather, or safety emergencies between March 16 and June 1 must be made up to ensure a 180-day school year or until the district has reached its previously-scheduled 185th day, whichever comes first. If all five snow days have been used prior to this point, the district is not required to scheduled additional school days.
  3. Districts will not be expected to make up any days lost to health, weather, or safety emergencies that occur after June 1.

This change means that if you have already canceled school for five days before March 15, you do not need to schedule additional make-up days for any days that school is closed after March 15. The longest that any school district will be required to go is its scheduled 185th day. No schools will be required to be in session after June 30. This policy applies to the current (2019-20) school year only. Anyone who feels that they have special circumstances should contact Associate Commissioner Helene Bettencourt at  or 781-338-3120.





BPS Special Education Update 3/19/20

1. BPS’ Office of Special Education Resources website can be found HERE ( You will also find social/ visual stories about Coronavirus and school closures.


2. It is expected that students will receive outreach and google classroom time from their teachers prior to March 27th. It is not mandatory for students but strongly suggested to provide learning opportunities. If you do not hear from your teachers by March 27th, please let BPS know by contacting and

3. Individual Education Plan (IEP) annual reviews and some original reviews and reevaluations will be held virtually, if the parent(s) agrees. BPS office of special education will be sending additional information out about this.

4. If your child does not have access to a laptop, please fill out the Laptop Request Form Here.

5. If you have concerns about your child’s special education services and needs, please   The email address is being monitored throughout the day, while staff work remotely.

6. While school is closed, BPS is providing free breakfast and lunch to all Boston families. Packaged meals may be picked up Monday through Friday from 8:30 AM – 11:30 aM. A list of BPS and city wide sites can be found HERE.

7. BPS can deliver meals to your home for your BPS student with IEP services that include door-to-door transportation, and any other BPS students in the household. If you would like to participate, please email and let them know you want to be included in the BPS meal delivery service.

As additional information is shared, our board of parent volunteers will keep you posted. Please stay safe and feel free to reach out with concerns and/or questions.

twitter: @BostonSpedPac
SpedPac VM:  617.297.7335


Moving Forward With Inclusion Done Right

Dear Educators and Parents,

Momentum is building! At our recent Inclusion Done Right meeting there were 70 of us sharing stories, looking at the data we collected so far about inclusion in the district, and beginning to  draw up recommendations.  Your passion and commitment to fighting for the services our students deserve and for more educators, not more licenses is crystal clear!

Inclusion Working Group Meeting – Monday, Dec. 16
On Monday, December 16th there will be a meeting of the Inclusion Working Group, 5:30 – 7:30 pm, at the Bolling Building. ( The Inclusion Working Group is  a joint body composed of BTU members and staff and BPS.)  At this time we will be sharing recommendations for how to better meet the needs of students in our inclusion classrooms.  Some educators will be sharing their personal experiences, along  data we have collected to support the recommendations being made. Our presence at this meeting is one way we can demonstrate how much we care about seeing Inclusion Done Right.
Please let us know if you are able to be present at the Inclusion Working Group meeting.  RSVP here.

Inclusion Tracker
To get the inclusion services our students deserve it will take all of us being vigilant and reporting what we see.  Help the BTU keep track of contract violations, legal violations, and other instances of student needs not being met by reporting what you see using this Inclusion Tracker. The information you share here will only be seen by BTU staff.  Parents, educators and students are encouraged to use this tracker.  For examples of violations, please go to and scroll down to “Inclusion Tracker”.

Next Inclusion Done Right meeting
Our next Inclusion Done Right meeting is set for Tuesday, January 14th, 4:30 – 6:30 pm.  Please help us spread the word!

Thank you,
Ilene Carver
BTU Organizer