School During COVID Hard for Students with Disabilities
Know your rights!
Parents everywhere are concerned about coronavirus as school resumes. Many are choosing to keep their children with disabilities at home because of immune system problems. But the simple truth is these kids need to return to the classroom.
Kids with disabilities are regressing something fierce since being home from March 2020. Loss of skills is one big issue that families with kids in special education are grappling with. Besides navigating the changes wrought by COVID, from hybrid learning to social distancing, these kids face even greater challenges.
For some, the mask requirement alone is daunting. Sometimes you can substitute a face shield instead of a mask. For others, in-person school simply isn’t an option. For those students with anxiety, this can become severe when triggered by contamination fears.
How severe a threat the virus poses to certain populations is truly unknown. Many parents are opting for virtual online schooling. But there are worries about how reading and reading comprehension can improve.
What you can focus on is the regular schedule. Having class every day, even if it is for a smaller amount of time, is critical. Keep the schedule routine, and it causes less upheaval. These families felt that when that routine changed on a dime last March.
It’s hard for schools to provide speech, occupational and physical therapy online.
Some states will be evaluating every student with a disability to determine if there were losses during the gap in in-person education. They can provide “compensatory services” in addition to what students receive in their education plans. These evaluations should be done by the end of the first month in school.
The most important thing is for families to know their rights have not changed. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – a federal law – remains in effect. The hard part is keeping school as “normalish” as possible.