Back To School: Can Special Education Make Up For Lost Time?
The shift to remote learning has meant unexpected challenges for schools around the country. For students who receive special education, those challenges have been especially acute.
Many students who gravitate toward hands-on experiential learning have fallen behind in a virtual environment. And students’ access to paraprofessionals, such as occupational therapists or speech therapists, has been pared down in the transition away from in-person learning.
Roughly 7 million children in the U.S. receive special education services under a decades-old federal law — or did, until the pandemic began. Many of those services slowed or stopped when schools physically shut down in spring 2020. Modified instruction, behavioral counseling, and speech and physical therapy disappeared or were feebly reproduced online, for three, six, nine months. In some places, they have yet to fully resume. For many children with disabilities, families say this disruption wasn’t just difficult. It was devastating.
We reflect on the past year and a half of special education during the pandemic, and how to get students back on track, in the final installment of our Back to School series.
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