Dealing with the Demands of School Closures: An Emphasis on Documentation

Posted by Kristin Weingart on

Schools have closed and now you have 24 hours if you're lucky to get individualized packets together...
Schools closed and now you have 15 minutes to go in and grab your materials and leave...
Schools closed and now suddenly you're a teletherapist.
Schools close and... okay, okay, do you really need to re-live any of these moments?
No. No you don't.  If you're reading this chances are - you. are. exhausted.  You know that you want to reach your kids and their families but aren't quite sure how.
In this blog post, I'm going to help you to systematize what you're required to do and be sure that you are documenting everything to start to feel more empowered and confident about what you are providing during this uncertain time. 

As you read this blog post please know that I am not aware of what your individual district is doing.  These strategies are simply what I have done and what has worked for me and the families that I service.  I am not saying that you have to do these steps to successfully deal with the demands or to document.  But I do believe this information can help you and that is why I compiled this information here. 

So Let's Get Started:

Step 1: Documentation For You -  If your district has not given you a form for documentation, make a parent communication log.  This is very important.  You're likely going to be using a variety of methods of communication in attempts of getting ahold of your families and this will help you see the last time you contacted families and to know when to follow up. If your district does give you a form you may consider turning it into a google form to make things easier on you.  Watch this quick clip to see how to make one from start to finish and view my examples for what you should include. 

Step 2: Documentation for "Them" -  Make the decision on if you want to include documenting the activities you are "assigning" on the parent communication log or if you want to do this separately.  Your district is going to want to know what you did during this time to support your students but that log is probably going to have 12353242 entries by the time COVID is over.. (sorry that's probably not hopeful). 

Step 1 + 2: What I Am Doing Specifically 

I have created the communication log that I featured in the video above for my caseload.  I have this log pinned (in the preview mode) to my bookmarks bar.  This is great because I can, at a moment's notice, record an entry of a text I may receive or an email that I send.  I document EVERYTHING. Nothing too small.  Why? Because when there is a time of crisis, it doens't matter if there are laws "waived" not everyone is going to be super happy about the difference in speech service delivery and you just need to protect yourself.  We've never been through this before, and you'll never regret being in compliance and playing it safe. 

Another reason is...if the district asks well why didn't you send home something for ______(student)_____.  Then I could say very clearly and honestly... I called this number 3x, emailed this address, and reached out to the office staff for a new number but have not been able to touch base.  I also contacted the classroom teacher and she is also having a difficult time. (make sure that even though you're "isolated" you stay connected with your teams).  

The last thing that I do, related to the first two steps, is that 1x per week I am going to be putting a record in my student's billing platform that will be a summary of the contacts that were made that week as well as the activities, any data that I get, (etc).  This will be a non-billable note.  To cite the source: I got this idea from an SLP in our district and I think it's genius.  It is something that we can later export after COVID and then scan/upload into the student's IEP platform.  We can also have a hard copy in their student folder.  

Reminder: you don't have to do these things but these pieces of advice are base on my experience and you can choose to apply them as much or as litle as you need based on your circumstances.

Step 3: Packets - 

Can I just say the word packet stresses me out?  I can't imagine how families must feel with packets of paper being sent home.  All while navigating working and trying to create a routine.  I'm not the biggest fan of them BUT I do understand the intent that they are needed for our students that do not have an internet connection or access to a computer.  That being said - I pulled an all-nighter to get half of my caseload individualized packets (I was given approximately 24 hrs to prep - if that.  I know some of you had even less time!).  It was not putting my health first, but I knew that setting things up digitally could take some time.  That being said, I wanted them to have enough activities to help during the gap between school closures and establishing a digital connection.

So I ended up dropping off packets at the school for my Prek - 2nd graders to pick up.  This was the requirement - but dangit it was exhausting.
I used a manilla folder and made a cute cover (obviously in a time constraint - this was a need *facepalm*).  On the inside cover, I had a typed copy of their goals listed out.

Here Are Some Of The Activities I Included/Recommend:


I then used an awesome FREE resource that I felt was very visually friendly and provided suggested in a clear and organized way.  You can find that HERE 

    I also like the following handouts: (CLICK HERE - Speech Tea)


    • I love everything that Amanda, from A Perfect Blend Teaching, creates but this bundle is so good for you to have right now!  Whether you need boom cards for tele-practice or to assign for home practice or if you need to send a copy home for your students, this is such an interactive set of articulation tasks that can benefit your students.  It is a paid resource but it is well worth it for what is included and how versatile it is!  

    Main Idea + Supporting Details:
    This open-ended graphic organizer is a freebie that can be used with ANY book!  I made a couple of copies to encourage my families to use it during storytime at home.  You can view this resource HERE.  For another main idea resource CLICK HERE.


    Augmentative Alternative Communication: 
    AAC Core Words FREEBIES - Speechie Side Up

    Social Skills: 
    Free Feelings Chart: Speechie Side Up 
    Social Skills Book List: Speechie Side Up
    Emotions Theme Boom Cards: Communication Cottage
    Friends Theme: Communication Cottage

    Going Forward:
    Now that we are closed for a longer duration, we're to send home packets again.  This time I will be only sending packets for my students that can't access our electronic lesson plans and activities.  This will help to streamline the work being sent home, as well as my documentation.  
    For More Resources: (View My Resource Round-Up Blog)


    Step 4: Planning What Goes Home

    Step 5: Parent Communication + Documentation + Data

    If you want to use the exact home learning parent survey, CLICK HERE . Be sure to make a copy of it and then add it to your drive. 

    Step 6: Reflect on What Is + Isn't Working This is super important. 

    With more and more schools extending their closures, this issue isn't going away anytime soon. It is imperative that we are reflecting so that we are continuing to grow and to help serve our kids better.  If an online platform is one that many parents do not like after awhile... re-assess.  Maybe this wasn't for them BUT you tried something and that's what is important.  Don't get too caught up, this season - or ever, in feeling like you need to get it right the first time.  


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