CHESHIRE — The COVID-19 pandemic has uprooted the traditional American educational system, and left many parents scrambling to figure out what is best and safest for their children.
While plans for general education have been devised by many local school districts and vary widely from hybrid models to full-time in-person classes, specific plans for special education have not been fully outlined by the state. That has left each district to address special education in a different way.
“Many of our kids, luckily, did really well with the technology we provided them in March, so we plan on continuing that model into the fall,” said Director of Pupil Personnel Services and Humiston School Principal Tracy Hussey. “But we do know that there is a pocket of students that did not get serviced because they need highly tailored instruction, which is why we are going to opt with full-time schooling unless the virus is so bad that we have to switch.”
According to the plan, schools are aiming to have all special education students come in for in-person instruction in the fall and adjust if the virus becomes unmanageable.
For special education students — roughly 500 of in the school district — the fall brings a variety of unique issues, all which Hussey is determined to address.
“Since the start of this, we knew some of our kids were going to have a really rough time with understanding what this is all about. On top of that, some of our students already have compromised immune systems,” she said. “We have been preparing our kids since we went out of school about the importance of hand washing, why masks are important and how to wear them, and we have been collaborating a lot with families.
“We couldn’t do this without the cooperation of our families who are going through this with us,” added Hussey.
For many parents, the worry of educational regression during the pandemic is a big one, something Hussey had a plan to address with her students.
“We were able to conduct a lot of our testing and things virtually, but we do understand that there are some students who are going to have some difficulty getting back into schooling,” she explained. “For those first few weeks we are really going to be relying heavily on our families to tell us what they need with surveys and things to tell us what happened while they were away from us.”
Hussey believes the plan will ultimately be more expensive due to the need to purchase appropriate PPE and other necessities, but ultimately is worth it for the safety of her students.