Date Presented 04/01/2022

During the 2019–2020 school year, school-based therapists working in the school setting quickly migrated to online and hybrid service delivery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Changes continued throughout the 2020–2021 school year. The purpose of this research is to describe how OTs, physical therapists (PTs), and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) developed and addressed goals for students who received therapy services via online or hybrid schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic. This research was recently presented at ASHA and APTA, 2021.

Primary Author and Speaker: Sonja Burmeister

Contributing Authors: Kimberly D. Wynarczuk, Rebecca Bawayan, Eric Sanders, Brianna Milstrey

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to describe the goal development and usage practices of school-based occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, and physical therapists. Specifically, this study aimed to understand and describe how goal development and implementation changed with the transition from face-to-face to online and hybrid service delivery models, particularly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Research question and rationale/background of this study: How did student goal development and goal usage practice change with the transition from face-to-face to online or hybrid schooling, particularly as a result of COVID-19? Researchers attempted to provide a foundation for future goal development practices when migrating from face-to-face services into online and hybrid service provision.

DESIGN: This study used a qualitative descriptive research approach. MethodsResearchers interviewed a convenience sample of 20 school-based therapists (7 OTs, 7 PTs, 5 SLPs, and 1 COTA) using a qualitative research methods approach of semi-structured interviews conducted online via Zoom for a duration of 30-45 minutes. An interview facilitator guide ensured consistency across interviews in which a member of the research team and the participant discussed experiences, perceptions, and changes of goal development and usage in school-based practice since moving to online and hybrid formats due to COVID-19. Each interview was audio and video recorded and transcribed verbatim via the Zoom software. Member checking ensured that findings were consistent with participants’ intended meaning. Interview transcripts were analyzed using an iterative thematic analysis approach and coding led to a consensus on final coding, themes, illustrative quotes, and thematic map development.

RESULTS: Preliminary analysis indicated specific themes emerging from the interviews. The role of occupation changed from school-based routines to home-based academic and self-care routines. Communication and collaboration varied based on parental engagement. One example of how goal development changed during COVID-19 was that naturally occurring situations outside of the classroom, such as community based learning, were infrequent resulting in the cessation of goal writing for these scenarios.

CONCLUSION: This study concludes that goal development and implementation remained the same, was modified, or was not addressed in entirety as a result of the transition to online and hybrid services. The shift in the natural environment from school-based to home-based routines impacted how school-based occupational therapists (OTs), physical therapists (PTs), and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) developed and addressed goals.


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