Special Education and COVID-19

Special Education and COVID-19

Special education may be defined as that branch of the education department that caters for the educational needs of children or learners with physical or intellectual disabilities. Parents whose children have special education needs are worried about the consequences that could arise from the waiver. For one Ms. Jennifer Gratzer, the waiver could make it difficult for her epileptic son, who also suffers from some form of visual impairment, to access necessary services such as one-on-one aid and occupational therapy. Precisely, Ms, Gratzer is worried that following the waiver, schools will be unwilling and non-committed to offering essential services to learners with special needs (Green, 2020). Secondly, the shift to online instruction is an issue of concern to such parents because some of the key services that students with special needs require cannot easily be shifted to the internet. For example, it may be hard for teachers to offer behavioral assistance and hands-on services to learners via the internet.

Much as contingency planning is a crucial responsibility for individuals and organizations, I do not agree with the idea that school systems ought to have had a special education alternative to cater for students with disabilities following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic was a sudden, unplanned-for event that hit every sector in every country across the world. It would be fair to criticize school systems for not having a contingency plan when governments themselves did not have such a plan.

It would be difficult to implement certain related services for students with disabilities through distant learning. The simple explanation for this is that some of these services, specifically physical therapy as well as one-on-one services, which such students require, are best delivered physically.

Students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) should receive compensatory services for the time that education was delivered via online learning and for related services that was not provided. This is because adjusting to online learning is a real struggle not only for students but their parents. Survey results indicate that nearly 50% of families whose children have Individualized Education Programs believe that these kids will not get appropriate services (ExcelinEd, 2020). Considering that the pandemic has resulted to loss of at least 10 weeks learning and instruction, it is necessary to provide compensatory services to students with disabilities.

 

 

References

ExcelinEd. (2020). Special education and distance learning: supporting students through the pandemic. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED609307.pdf

Green, E. (2020). DeVos weighs waivers for special education. Parents are worried. The New York Times. www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/us/politics/special-education-coronavirus.html?smid=em-share

 

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