and strengthen those relationships,” said Sue Shutrump, the supervisor of occupational and physical therapy for Trum- bull County Educational Service Center in Niles, Ohio. Shutrump said her team is currently providing students

with physical and occupational therapy via video. Many students are also attending remote doctor appointments. With students in their homes, Shutrump said she also in- teracts with parents more. And as new problems arise every day, she often solicits solutions from staff. She advocates for student transporters to do the same. “Communicate as much as you can in many different

ways with your coworkers to support one another, to share creative and effective strategies that can expand upon the services we can provide to students with disabil- ities during this crisis,” Shutrump added. The biggest misconception may be that student trans-

porters can’t continue serving students with special needs, despite not driving them around. Some transporta- tion departments are nevertheless finding ways to go the extra mile through COVID-19 closures. While delivering meals and educational materials to

students, Lake Region School in Bridgton, Maine, received a unique request. “We had a high school student with special needs who was getting his meal at different times every day, and he likes a rigid schedule and gets upset with all of the changes,” recalled Andy Madura, director of transportation, facilities and food service. “His special education teacher called us up with that concern, so now we bring his meal within a five-minute window every day. It makes him so happy, he even comes out to meet the bus.” There may be pressure to answer issues right away, ad- vised Anderson, who is also the director of Region 5 for the National Association for Pupil Transportation. She noted that special education teachers are also figuring out how to run a class that adheres to social distancing guidelines. Linda Bluth, a special needs transportation consultant and expert witness for over 40 years, pointed out that student transportation leaders need to rely on their expertise, experi- ence, community knowledge, and public health experts. “You have to start with a plan based on safety and knowl-

edge of IDEA compliance requirements, but know it will need to change as the circumstances change,” she said. “The plan must have regional flexibility. A school district may not be required to treat a rural area with little or no COVID-19 cases like you would an urban center. Start with your experi- ence and knowledge of your colleagues, and above all, make sure the public health system in your jurisdiction assists with providing the basis for sound decision-making.” ●

Is your department continuing to provide the related service of transportation as required by student IEPs at this time? 69% No 16% I don’t know

15% Yes (Out of 334 reader responses)

Thank You For All That You Do

We love to see people coming together during this difficut time to help out those who need it most.

Thank you for delivering meals, learning materials, Internet access, and other essential resources to the students and families in your community.

Learn how Kajeet is supporting districts amid Distance Learning by helping to turn their school buses into Wi-Fi hotspots. 25

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