Fairfax County families with special needs talk about students returning to the classroom

 Schools across our region are planning to slowly re-open. 

In Fairfax County, some of the first students who will be returning to the classroom later this fall will be students with special needs.

RELATED: Fairfax Co. Public Schools votes for some in-person learning for around 7,000 students

Brianne Russell-Morris’ daughter Elizabeth is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD.

“There are a lot of meltdowns that come out of the technology not working,” said Russell-Morris, who is a member of Parents of Autistic Children of Northern Virginia. “[Elizabeth] wants to be independent, but I will see her kind of staring off into space and not really following along with what she is supposed to be doing.”

The Fairfax County School Board approved a plan to phase-in classroom instruction for 3.5% of the FCPS student body, or more than 6.700 students, who are experiencing more challenges with distance learning.

You can find more information about the plan here.

Kate Volpe’s son Blake is also on the autism spectrum and has ADHD.

“I was pleasantly surprised by how well [virtual learning] has been going. I am able to see what he is doing well at—what he is struggling with,” said Volpe, who is a member of  Fairfax County Special Education PTA. 

Volpe still believes it is best for Blake to return to the classroom because FCPS’s special education teachers are more qualified to teach him in-person.

But the local teacher unions are not all on board with the plan to return nearly 700 teachers to the classrooms so soon. 

You can learn more about their concerns here.

“All phase-in decisions will be made with student and staff safety as the highest priority,” said Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand. “All of us recognize that the ideal setting for education is delivered in the classroom through in-person instruction. The return to in-person instruction of any kind is dependent on the operational and health metrics being met.”

RELATED: LIST: What D.C., Md. and Va. public schools are doing for the 2020-2021 school year

Source Article