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Remote Learning and Dual Instruction Guidance

In 2022, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) issued guidance concerning the latest legislation on Remote Learning and Dual Instruction.

The guidance emphasizes that Sections 10-4w(c-d) of the Connecticut General Statutes prohibit simultaneous dual instruction in remote learning scenarios. “Dual instruction” is defined as the concurrent teaching to students physically present in the classroom and those participating remotely via Internet-based software platforms. According to Conn. Gen. Stat. §§10-4w(a)(1) & (2), “remote learning” refers specifically to instruction delivered exclusively through online platforms.

This legal framework mandates that recognized remote learning models must cater exclusively to students learning online; they cannot blend online and in-person instruction (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§10-4w(c)). Additionally, these models must adhere to the criteria set forth in the Commissioner’s Standards for Remote Learning Grades 9-12 (SRL), which were published in February 2022. It’s important to note that although these standards initially targeted Grades 9-12, subsequent legislation extended similar provisions regarding dual instruction and remote learning to encompass grades K-12 starting July 1, 2024 (Conn. Gen. Stat. §§10-4w(d)).

Remote Learning Requirements

The CSDE Guidance draws on the concept of a “model” and emphasizes that remote learning models should be comprehensive virtual instructional programs. Moreover, they should be structured to facilitate “opportunities for interaction between learners and instructors.” In SRL-compliant remote learning models, it’s not just learners and instructors who play roles; the SRL also underscores the involvement of parents, guardians, and families. They are encouraged to establish daily routines at home that mirror a typical school day and to designate specific home spaces where students can engage in learning activities.

Special Education Accommodations

The guidance further explains that although the prohibition of dual instruction applies universally to all students, there are specific instances where it may be allowed for students covered under the IDEA or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. For instance, transitioning a student with an IEP back to fully in-person learning by implementing dual instruction might be considered the least restrictive environment necessary for the student to access a suitable education. Additionally, dual instruction could serve as a suitable accommodation under Section 504.

Virtual Monitoring

The guidance distinguishes between dual instruction and virtual monitoring of classes. Virtual monitoring involves streaming the class to a remote student, operating as a one-way process without the interactive engagement between learner and teacher that is essential for effective remote learning. Offering virtual monitoring as an alternative, alongside asynchronous instruction, tutoring, or online access to class materials, accommodates students who need to stay home due to illness. This approach helps in managing disease transmission, maintaining a connection to the school for absent students, and preventing learning setbacks. Schools are not required to offer virtual monitoring, and participating students would still be marked absent.

Inter-District vs. Intra-District Courses

Finally, the guidance differentiates inter-district and intra-district course sharing and self-regulated learning (SRL)-compliant remote learning models. Course sharing aligns with legislative priorities such as reducing racial segregation, increasing access to advanced courses, and offering students opportunities to learn alongside peers from diverse backgrounds. However, these course sharing programs resemble co-taught classes, where students require active supervision by instructional staff or support staff collaborating closely with instructional personnel. In contrast, SRL-compliant remote learning entails supervision from a caregiver or guardian within the student’s home environment.

Maya Murphy P.C. has proudly been included in the 2024 Edition of Best Law Firms®, ranked among the top firms in the nation. In addition, Managing Partner Joseph C. Maya has been selected to The Best Lawyers in America® 2024 for his work in Employment Law and Education Law in Connecticut. Recognition in Best Lawyers® is awarded to firms and attorneys who demonstrate excellence in the industry and is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor.

Our firm in Westport, Connecticut serves clients with legal assistance all over the state, including the towns of Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Bethel, Branford, Bridgeport, Brookfield, Cheshire, Danbury, Darien, Derby, East Haven, Easton, Fairfield, Greenwich, Guilford, Hamden, Madison, Meriden, Middlebury, Milford, Monroe, Naugatuck, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Haven, Newton, North Branford, North Haven, Norwalk, Orange, Oxford, Prospect, Redding, Ridgefield, Seymour, Shelton, Sherman, Southbury, Stamford, Stratford, Trumbull, Wallingford, Waterbury, West Haven, Weston, Westport, Wilton, and Woodbridge. In addition to assisting clients in Connecticut, our firm handles education law matters in New York as well.

If you have any questions or would like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, please contact Joseph C. Maya and the other experienced attorneys at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or to schedule a free initial consultation today.