Back-to-School: Special needs students may face additional obstacles when learning remotely

WATCH: Back-to-School: Obstacles special needs students face when learning remotely

For students with special needs, missing out on an in-person education could set them back in developing life skills.

When COVID-19 shut down schools it quickly became apparent to officials at Millington Municipal Schools that online learning shortchanged some students more than others

FOX13 spoke with administrators about the obstacles students with special needs face while learning remotely and the administration’s decision to return to in-person learning.

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Three weeks ago, Millington Municipal Schools reopened its doors for the first time since the novel coronavirus swept through the nation six months ago.

The district’s re-entry plan is a blend of in-person and distance learning. According to Millington Municipal Schools COVID-19 and Exceptional Children FAQ, since the reopening of school it is required to provide equal services to students with special needs and disabilities.

But remote learning can be hard for some students.

Superintendent James ‘Bo’ Griffin said COVID-19 highlighted the potential damage the absence of in-person teachers and a lack of a daily routine could have on special education students when schools sat dormant over the summer.

“Life skills. We aren’t just talking about just doing the three R’s - reading, writing and arithmetic. They have got to be able to do functional skills in the real world and the only way to build those skills is through repetition and hands-on training,” said Griffin.

For some kids, online learning just isn’t an option. The district is required to meet the needs of special education students and related services in accordance with the child’s ‘Individualized Education Program.’

Superintendent Griffin said it was the collaborative effort of parents and teachers who pushed for the return of students to learning in-person 5 days a week. He noted they followed CDC guidelines.

“The parents came together. We spoke with them, and they thought it was a great idea because they know to serve the needs of our students. They said we got to have them every day. It has been a tremendous aspect for us to do that. To get their physical therapy, their speech therapy but number one to get their social skills back together to where they were before the pandemic,” said Griffin.

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