The transition to tele-therapy for occupational & physical therapists

Coronavirus Update

The following email was sent on March 25 from Occupational and Physical Therapists Chapter Leader Thomas Ayrovainen to the chapter's members.

During this crisis, I hope all of you and your families are well. I've heard from many of you about the difficulties and concerns that tele-therapy has presented.

I understand your frustration and anxiety with the lack of clear and consistent information from the city Department of Education. I've been working on your behalf with UFT leadership to call for clear and sensible guidance. At the end of the day, it will be the occupational and physical therapists, who are doing the actual work, that will develop the best systems and practices during this crisis. Please keep note of what has been working well and what has not been working. We will be assembling a focus group of therapists and speech language pathologists that will be meeting daily to identify and share the best ideas and solutions.

Tele-therapy is a form of distance therapy that can help our students feel supported and nurtured across the miles. The DOE is planning to send out webinars to guide you through the tele-therapy process. Keep in mind that the DOE is constrained by state law and New York State Education Department guidelines. New York State Medicaid guidelines for occupational and physical therapists and speech teachers require that related service providers receive parental consent before delivering the related services to the student via tele-therapy. When the parent has consented, tele-therapy must include a video component. If the student’s parent or guardian does not consent to tele-therapy, then you can provide a weekly check-in via phone.

Here again is the DOE guidance for occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech teachers that was issued last week.

As far as attendance is concerned, there is no official policy at this time. The union is in conversation with the DOE on the issue. As soon as an attendance policy has been established, I'll share it with you.

I'm sure many of you have more questions. Please be patient while we work through this process and advocate for our chapter.

Thank you for your dedication, flexibility and commitment.

Don't hesitate to reach out to me for assistance and support.

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