Telepractice and the Schools: Questions and Answers

March 27, 2020

During the current situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ISHA has received emails from members regarding the use of teletherapy.  Recently, school-based members have asked the following questions regarding teletherapy provided by a school district, which ISHA’s Telepractice Committee has answered.  

Do school-based SLPs need parental consent in order for students to participate in speech services?

Yes.  According to ASHA, you need to obtain a signed informed consent for students to participate in speech services.  While a signed informed consent is needed, ASHA does not provide a specific form for reference.  They only state that a school-based SLP needs it to provide services.  

Most students that receive speech and language services in the school are placed in group sessions while at school.  Are group sessions via teletherapy for those students permitted?

Yes, you can provide teletherapy in groups (with informed consent only).  If a parent does not sign informed consent, you ethically should not put that student into a group due to HIPAA and FERPA laws.  Although ASHA does not provide guidance on group sizes, it is much more challenging to provide quality services in large groups (two or more students) without proper facilitator support, equipment, and technology.  Speech-language pathologists have the ethical responsibility to follow best practices regardless of the setting.  

What is ISHA’s guidance if a parent chooses not to participate in teletherapy services or the SLP is unable to get ahold of them?

At this time, ISHA must defer to your specific school district and ISBE for guidance on this issue.  These details are still being worked out on a federal level and all states are waiting to hear how to properly document and adhere to the law under IDEA.

Can SLPAs do telepractice sessions? And if so, how would the supervision be conducted? 

Currently, we have not identified any updated information regarding the Illinois Practice Act for Teletherapy and SLPAs.   SLPAs need 30% direct supervision per client from a licensed SLP for the first 90 days of practice and then it is 20% per client. The state does not allow telesupervision – the supervisor needs to be onsite.

ISHA has compiled a list of resources regarding telepractice that can provide additional information on this topic.