How do you ensure special education students, who generally don’t thrive in remote learning, are getting the education they’re entitled to receive?
Fricke said COVID-19 has affected special education students disproportionately. “If they needed that in-person contact, at no fault of their own or their parents, they weren’t able to receive it,” she said. Teachers have worked hard on it, but “it fell short in so many ways.” Officials at the department were aware it wasn’t working in some places, and they’re working to improve it, she said.
Petrescu said COVID-19 has put a “tremendous burden” on parents and their children with special needs.
“If we don’t support the parents enough, we wouldn’t be supporting the children either,” he said. “When the air blows out of an airplane, you have to put your air mask on first, before you help somebody else.” Every child needs to be nurtured for their own talents, he said. “Folks with special education needs have always been isolated culturally by society. And I think we should learn to not do that anymore.”
Morrison said she’s concerned with whether parents and students are being educated on their rights. “They may not know what they’re missing. They may not know what they’re not getting,” she said. The state can play a role in that, she said. Schools should be bold enough to step out of traditional approaches to special education, she said. For instance, she said, schools should consider grouping students by ability instead of by age.