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Reopening Special Education Programs

What to Expect: Special Education Programs

Special Education Programs


smaple image Important note: Students in specific special education programs will be among the first groups of students to return to school buildings for in-person experiences.

Subject Areas

Students enrolled in specific, self-contained special education programs who have opted to participate in an in-person experience will receive instructional services delivered by a classroom teacher or supporting staff members, such as paraeducators. In-person experiences may look different, given the number of students who are returning and the instructional model determined by their school.  Stable classroom cohorts (groups) will be established to limit the number of students and staff members moving between classrooms.

Special education students who receive services in general education classes may receive instruction virtually, with in-person direct support provided by classroom staff members.

Sample Schedule

Students in discrete special education programs working toward Alternate Learning Outcomes (ALO) may follow this sample schedule, where students opting for an in-person experience will be taught by the teacher in a direct instruction model, four days per week (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.) Wednesday will remain a virtual experience. There may be additional classes, such as in a secondary school or specials/electives in an elementary school, where the students will remain in school under supervision of staff members and access their other classes, specials, or electives virtually in a learning support model.

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Enhanced PPE

Face shields, closed goggles, disposable masks, gloves, and gowns, KN-95 masks

Supplemented PPE

Face shields, disposable masks, gloves, and gowns
Access to maximum PPE level

Standard PPE

Disposable masks and gloves

Delivery of Related Services

Students will receive related services (e.g., speech/language, occupational, or physical therapies) remotely with in-person direct support provided by classroom staff members in a learning support model. Additional technology (e.g., large group webcam, student document camera with Chromebook) will be available in classrooms to help ensure the most effective delivery of instruction.

Critical needs which cannot be addressed through remote services may be provided by periodic pull-out or by appointment.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Special education staff members will be provided appropriate PPE to address the unique needs of students with disabilities. This type of consideration around PPE is also occurring in other content areas such as ESOL, World Language, music, and science.

PPE will match the unique needs of each program with flexible access to additional PPE to address special circumstances and crisis situations. Consideration for the type of PPE provided is based on the specific needs of the special education program and students.

Special Education Programs

Virtual Learning

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) will continue to receive special education and related services. The virtual learning for students receiving special education services may include:

  • All students receive core instruction that addresses the standards at the grade level in which they are enrolled.
  • During core instruction (ELA and mathematics) special educators and/or paraeducators may work with students from multiple classrooms in the same grade in a breakout group during small group instructional periods. This allows special educators and paraeducators to support students’ IEP goals in these areas, while ensuring that all students receive core instruction with their general education peers.
  • Receiving interventions in a small group or individual setting.
  • Providing related services (e.g., speech, occupational, and physical therapy) through individual or small group televisits, or as plug-in services in classes. School schedules will need to accommodate the scheduling of related services throughout the instructional day.
  • For students working towards Alternate Learning Outcomes (ALO), providing alternating morning and afternoon instructional opportunities in both ELA and mathematics, which are designed to address feedback from teachers and parents/guardians regarding the need for flexibility to address student and family schedules.

Documenting Special Education Services

Students will continue to have any necessary amendments to the special education services documented in the Prior Written Notice (PWN). The services described on the PWN align with each student’s IEP and document any changes to the IEP necessary for the delivery of special education services in the distance format. Special education teachers/case managers will continue to update the PWN in collaboration with parents/guardians.

Assessment Centers

MCPS has opened special education assessment centers at Hallie Wells, Sligo, and Julius West middle schools; families are able to receive support by appointment Monday through Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. These assessment centers allow families to participate in in-person educational and psychological assessments to determine initial and ongoing special education eligibility.

Related Services

Speech/language, occupational (OT), and physical therapies (PT) will be delivered using a variety of methodologies. Services can be provided through direct televisits and may include both individual and small- group sessions. Services also may be delivered in a plug-in model, with a related service provider joining a student's virtual class to deliver direct services.

Child Find

Screening and evaluations for students aged three to kindergarten will continue to be conducted virtually. Opportunities for in-person assessments are available as determined by the parent/guardian and staff members. Screening and assessment measures include an extensive parent interview, a review of the preschool teacher questionnaire, and other documents as needed to determine special education eligibility.

Standardized measures, including parent rating scales, are administered virtually or in person as needed, given the parameters of each assessment and the individualized needs of the student. Direct virtual observations of the student in their home or child care environment are conducted when feasible.

Evaluations conducted by OTs, PTs, speech/language pathologists, and other related service providers also are conducted virtually with opportunities for in-person assessments as determined by the parent/guardian and staff members. Evaluations may include parent interviews, student observations in their home or child care environment, and standardized measures as appropriate.

Montgomery County Infants and Toddlers Program (MCITP) Early Intervention Services

Children with disabilities and their families enrolled in MCITP will continue to participate in family coaching services based on the Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP) outcomes as modified and agreed upon by each family and staff member.

Services provided are documented and may include:

  • Virtual group parent training
  • Assessment of children referred for eligibility for the program and services
  • Virtual small group sessions, facilitated by an MCITP provider, with children and families to facilitate direct interaction with peers
  • Support to families through the transition from MCITP at age three to special education pre-K programs and services.

Assistive Technology

Montgomery County Public Schools will continue to provide access to existing assistive technology tools. These tools will allow teachers to engage and support more students with disabilities and allow home access for more of these supports.

MCPS will continue to provide professional development and parent training on multiple topics related to the use of assistive technology tools and devices for students with high and low incidence disabilities.

For questions related to technology access, parents/guardians and staff members may contact:

•High Incidence Accessibility Team (HIAT)—supporting students with high incidence disabilities, contact Mrs. Linda B. Wilson, instructional specialist, via email, at
•Interdisciplinary Augmentative Communication and Technology Team (InterACT)—supporting students with severe communication disabilities, contact Ms. Marilyn K. Jacobs, instructional specialist, via email, at