The Pros and Cons to Virtual versus In-Person Meetings

Attending a meeting whether in person or virtually can be anxiety provoking enough but there are some pros and cons to both. Prior to COVID, in person meetings were the standard way in which IEPs/504s Meetings were conducted. At these in person meetings, typically, parents are surrounded by sometimes upwards of 10 staff members and are handed a draft IEP/504 that is gone through at this meeting. With the amount of detail included in an IEP/504, many changes are discussed and agreed to but have you ever noticed that something you thought the school team included couldn’t be found in the finalized copy? In my experience, this isn’t done intentionally but with how fast paced meetings can take place and the limited time school teams typically provide to IEP meetings, items tend to be missed. You aren’t able to see the school-district employee’s computer while they are making the changes so you are relying on verbal confirmation. Even with these cons, some parents prefer to be face-to-face with school teams for the human interaction piece and to be able to look at staff members in the IEP meeting when discussing educational planning decisions for their child. This, of course, is understandable and there is a lot to be said for face-to-face interactions. 
Post COVID, meetings were transitioned virtually and surprisingly there were quite a few benefits to these virtual meetings. The first benefit is that everyone is on an equitable playing field. What I mean by that is, everyone is on the computer and parents don’t feel like they are being surrounded at an IEP meeting table by all school staff members. The meeting can be taking place in the comfort of their home/office space. You are also able to view the school district employee’s computer screen who is actively changing the draft so you can see everything they can see. So, as things are agreed upon in real time, we can see the draft get updated and we have the ability to move as quickly as the draft is updated. If you, the parent, have an advocate attend a meeting, the other benefit to being virtual is that you can be texting them during the meeting with any questions/concerns you have in real time. Sometimes, parents don’t feel comfortable or struggle with how to word things and the advocate has the ability to make the parent’s wishes known in a succinct, clear way. This virtual option also saves time by not needing to take as much time off of work to attend a meeting and the flexibility of joining the meeting from anywhere. 
IEPs are often experienced as stressful to parents. No matter how you prefer to attend, please make sure you are armed with effective strategies to advocate for your child and any child. With our online learning platform, My Online IEP Advocate, we give you the tools needed to successfully tackle any IEP meeting so that you can walk away feeling that you contributed to an IEP/504 that will lead to meaningful, educational benefit. You can sign up here,

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What do you think about virtual versus in person meetings? Feel free to comment below.