Beaufort County School District to provide face-to-face instruction to some special education students

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BEAUFORT, S.C. (WSAV) – The Beaufort County School District announced that it will provide face-to-face instruction to some special education students while the rest of the school district opens in an all-virtual format.

Half-day face-to-face instruction for some students will begin Sept. 14 in a hybrid model.

“Since the district announced that we will start the year in a virtual model, we have been working with our Special Education department to determine how we can best meet the basic academic and functional needs of our special education students with ‘low-incidence disabilities,’” said Duke Bradley, deputy superintendent and chief of schools.

The school district serves approximately 220 students who have Low Incidence Disabilities (LID), meaning those with severe intellectual or cognitive disabilities, those in autism-focused classrooms, those who require instruction related to visual impairment, and other who need instruction related to deaf and hard-of-hearing needs.

Families of 138 of the 220 students with LIDs requested face-to-face instruction when registering for the school year.

“We’ve concluded that the most appropriate setting for these students, despite our district’s virtual start, will be to educate them at their schools under a hybrid model that permits face-to-face instruction and therapy services while keeping student groups small to ensure health and safety are maintained,” Bradley said.

District Special Education Director Juliet White said that federal law requires special services for students with disabilities. 

“Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act, we have a legal obligation to ensure that these students have access to a free and appropriate public education,” White said.  “Virtual instruction is particularly challenging for these students.”

Bradley added that the district wants success for all students, so this is a necessary step to guarantee they have the tools and instruction needed to make progress.

The students most in need were determined by reviewing current IEP services and data collected during spring building closures.

Superintendent Frank Rodriguez said he was encouraged by the county’s downward trend of DHEC metrics.

“If this positive trend continues, we will be able to open schools to all of our students who desire a face-to-face education sooner, rather than later,” Rodriguez said. “This is what we all want because it’s best for our children. In the meantime, I’m glad we will be able to effectively serve certain special education students, even amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Families will be provided additional information from their schools by the end of the week. 

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