Families with special needs children struggle with distance learning | #specialneeds | #kids

With a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, many school districts that were offering hybrid or in-person learning are going to fully distanced, creating challenges for many families, especially those who have children with special needs.

“My house is always a circus,” Kate Eichenamlee said.

Kate has a kindergartener, Carter, and a second grader, Charlie, both learning entirely from home. Kate is also a teacher in another district, so she’s also teaching virtual class while trying to help the kids with their school work.

“We’re all just trying to get through,” she said.

Her second grader Charlie also has Down Syndrome. This means he needs extra help at home, something Kate is struggling to manage.

“I worry ‘How I can best meet his needs?’ ‘How I can be monitoring,’ whether he’s getting what he needs,” she said.

PACER Center is a local nonprofit serving families who have children with disabilities. Their Executive Director, Paula Goldberg, said out of families they surveyed, 95 percent said distance learning was a big challenge.

“Distance learning isn’t working for them. They can’t sit and look at a computer all day long,” Goldberg said.

In Minnesota, individual districts can decide what kind of in-person learning they offer to special education students, if any. However, the state Department of Education and organizations like PACER Center are offering resources, even assistance, to families who may need it.

“We’re there to help, so any parent can call us,” Goldberg said.

For more information on where to get special education resources click here. 

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