As schools reopen, pandemic forces hard choices for special needs students

Published by: Tampa Bay Times
Written by: Rebecca Torrence

Tommy Steele’s first two virtual school lessons in the spring went great. His mom felt optimistic. Then Friday rolled around.

Tommy, a rising third-grader with Down syndrome, opened his brother’s Macbook on the kitchen table at 9 a.m. Peggy Steele sat beside her son to coax him through the day’s lesson: 45 minutes of reading and math, taught over Zoom.

Within minutes, Tommy slumped over the table. Forearms folded in front of him, he buried his head and fixed his gaze on the floor.

When he finally lifted his head, he refused to speak, but the message was clear.

No more learning for today.

Children with special needs face many roadblocks in their education, like trouble focusing on a task or communicating their thoughts. Special education programs are created to address those hurdles. But their solutions, which often rely on face-to-face interaction with teachers, may be lost during the coronavirus crisis as more families and school systems turn to virtual learning. Click here to read the rest of the story

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