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Challenges and rewards for special education during remote learning

Students who rely on therapy or special services at school are working around these new challenges of remote learning.

“It takes a lot of planning, it takes partnership, and kids need to continue to access those resources,” said Leah Voorhies, assistant superintendent of student support for the Utah State Board of Education.

She says she’s hearing stories of some students with special needs who are struggling. Occupational therapy and Speech Language Therapy are hard to do without being right next to the student. It also took some time for some of those employees and professionals to be able to get video access to their students.

It is also challenging for some students with cognitive disabilities and autism to use the online tools.

But there are also some students who are thriving with remote learning.

Voorhies was happy to hear of one of those cases last week.

“The teacher and a parent who partnered using a phone and a virtual platform to provide a student who had behavioral support challenges with enough structure at home that the student is making really good progress,” she said.

In that way, remote learning doesn’t have to just mean online or virtual. It can mean low-tech, phone calls, and options like that.

Voorhies sees a positive future in education with what we are learning from this experience.

“I think the key is really that partnership, the educator and the parent working together, and the investment, and the creativity,” she said.

Some charter schools and district schools were already doing virtual or remote learning before the school closure. Some even did it exclusively

In the past month, the state board of education has been providing a lot more instructional resources to educators for everything from preschool to special education to district and charter schools.