The Story Of Pleasanton Unified School District
When schools closed due to COVID-19 in the spring of 2020, schools and families in Pleasanton Unified School District (Pleasanton USD) were initially unsure how special education services were going to continue remotely. One of the concerns for the district was finding a solution to address their resulting backlog of assessments and IEPs, since the state of California did not authorize administering assessments on a business-built video conferencing platform. And, while that summer California started to allow some in-person special education related services and assessments to take place, many providers in the district were not comfortable doing face-to-face meetings.
Jeni Rickard started at Pleasanton USD this past July as the assistant director of special education and knew the district needed to address the backlog of assessments due to the pandemic, as well as staff shortages. “I had heard of PresenceLearning for many years and worked with PresenceLearning at my prior district,” said Rickard. “I heard about PresenceLearning’s platform expansion to address virtual learning and immediately looked into it.”
Pleasanton USD partnered with PresenceLearning to train district providers in teletherapy and tele-assessment and to provide access to the company’s education-built teletherapy platform to conduct services while students are at home. “I wanted to work with PresenceLearning again because I had such positive experiences previously and it really changed my opinion about teletherapy,” said Rickard. “I am so impressed with their services and the responses students had to teletherapy.”
District providers went through asynchronous and synchronous training and were also given access to daily tech support as they started using the teletherapy platform. “The various options for training were very helpful,” said Valeria Reynoso, a school psychologist with Pleasanton USD. “I was able to complete the asynchronous training sessions on my own time and join live training session for any additional follow up questions I had.”
As district providers went through the training, they began to easily adjust to the new way of conducting services. Providers quickly noticed the benefits of using a platform designed specifically for therapy services as students became more engaged during sessions.
“Some students require reinforcement quickly and consistently. For one of my students I was able to put down number stamps on the screen so the student could count down as he was getting closer to earning a sticker,” said Suzie McClung, speech-language pathologist for Pleasanton USD. “It’s great being able to quickly engage the student and not having to rely on mom or dad to give the student tokens.”
In addition to more engaging and productive sessions, district providers have also been able to catch up on the backlog of assessments now that they have access to a platform authorized for administering assessments. “Being able to use the PresenceLearning platform to administer assessments has allowed me to get caught up on my caseload. Once I got into it, I found I had to be a little faster when administering assessments,” said Reynoso. “Students are very comfortable with the online platform and I am able to test at least two students a day.”
Since partnering with PresenceLearning, the district continues to serve students with special needs remotely and ensure students are receiving the services outlined in their IEPs. District providers have also become very confident and comfortable with conducting teletherapy following the district’s partnership with PresenceLearning. “It’s been a pleasure doing remote therapy as it has been so seamless and a wonderful experience,” said McClung. “I enjoy it so much that I’m looking to continue it in the future.”