Special Education students get head start on face-to-face instruction

While+most+students+began+the+2020-2021+school+year+virtually%2C+special+education+students+participated+in+face-to-face+classes+since+the+first+day.+Parents+and+teachers+agree+that+maintaining+structure+and+routines+is+beneficial+to+special+education+students%2C+which+is+difficult+to+do+virtually.+

Amelia Jauregui

While most students began the 2020-2021 school year virtually, special education students participated in face-to-face classes since the first day. Parents and teachers agree that maintaining structure and routines is beneficial to special education students, which is difficult to do virtually.

More than 900 Redhawks are set to return to campus on Thursday, but a small number have already been on campus for several days. Special education students began face-to-face instruction earlier, a move several parents are in favor of. 

“Some of the most valuable aspects of school for my child are daily routine, social interaction, and gaining independence,” a special education parent on campus said, via text. “She needs to gain as much independence and functional daily skills as possible in order to transition into adulthood in a few short years. Going to school, the daily routine and expectations required of her as well as the resources available to her are the main advantages of a school setting.”

Since the beginning of March, these mothers and fathers have been forced to act in the place of teachers for their children. Now that students are coming back to school, it is believed many children in the program will benefit, according to SPED teacher Cheryl Madani. 

Going to school, the daily routine and expectations required of her as well as the resources available to her are the main advantages of a school setting.”

— Special education parent on campus

“Kids with special needs require face-to-face instruction for many reasons, but most notably, the structure,” Madani said. “While at home over the summer or during our quarantine last spring, our students lost out on the day to day structure of their lives that they count on. Going back to school in person also gives them access to their support services such as speech therapy, OT, and behavior support that they rely on to make improvements in these areas. It is extremely difficult to offer those services virtually as the student may be less engaged or they just don’t have the resources and supplies at home that the school is able to offer.” 

In addition, Madani explains how the return of other students on campus these next few days will strengthen their communication even more. 

“They are counting on the days until they see all their friends, Best Buddies, and familiar faces,” she said. “Lunch time in the cafeteria has been quiet and lonely. They ask every day when the other students will be returning.”

Returning with protocols in place may present a new set of challenges, though, from the perspective of Partners PE Member, sophomore, Taye Karp. 

“I think there’s a chance they might be overwhelmed by the fact that there are now a ton of people and extra noise around the school,” Karp said. “There will be more of a need for assistance while learning, after being on Zoom, everything is awkward and nobody knows what is going on. Still, being face-to-face means that there is an opportunity to create that connection and make that assistance process smoother. I think that the district has done the best they can due to the circumstances.”