No Student Left Behind: Ensuring Special Education In A Virtual Classroom

Apr 9, 2020

Anna Mandh, left, and her mother, Darlene Gildersleeve, in Concord, N.H. Gildersleeve is among many parents concerned about access to special education services as schools have shifted to remote learning due to the new coronavirus.
Credit Darlene Gildersleeve via AP

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted parents and school districts to find new ways to work with special education students – now being home-schooled – without the usual face-to-face interaction.  

Michael Alfano, dean of the College of Education at Sacred Heart University, says students with disabilities need individually crafted education plans, which usually involve a lot of face-to-face interaction. Now that students are learning from home, school districts have to find ways to replicate that with technology.

“They can use video conferencing with their students…getting students up and moving, occupational physical therapy, doing it through a technological portal like a camera.”

Alfano says special education experts still have some issues to work out. Ensuring students’ privacy, for example, and making sure all families have access to technology.

“If some communities, some families can’t access, or choose not to access, those technologies, then the special education programming is underpowered to say the least in the current crisis.”

Alfano will host an online forum on special education Thursday at 11 a.m. It’s part of a series of weekly chats on home schooling on the Sacred Heart University Alumni Facebook page. It’s open to the general public.

Disclosure: Sacred Heart University is the licensee of WSHU Public Radio.

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