Special education students may face different set of challenges at school this fall

Updated: Aug. 12, 2020 at 5:41 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - While returning to school is presenting challenges for all students, special education students may face a different set of challenges.

“It is probably the toughest time in education that I’ve ever been involved with,” said Perryton ISD Superintendent James Mireles.

Perryton ISD staff members are taking what they learned from remote learning in the spring to create a plan for special needs students.

“We are still working through what does that look like,” said Mary Nine, director of special education at Perryton ISD. “Especially we have some children who don’t respond very well to virtual screen time, and we have made packets and we have made kits for parents to work with them so we are in contact and the students. Well, we will be on a daily basis.“

“A lot of those kids are just children who we are going to educate the same way as other children who are choosing remote,” said Nine. “But we are putting in place that special needs and special needs instruction that they need.”

Perryton ISD has 300 special education students, 32 of whom have opted to learn from home.

Their staff is writing contingency plans to make sure all parents and teachers are on the same page.

“We tell our teachers and our students and our parents to be patient with us and be flexible because things change on a day-to-day basis,” said Mireles.

Amarillo ISD says the district is individualizing plans for students.

“We’re individualizing plans, so depending on whether parents want to enroll students in person or virtually, we’ll have a plan,” said Kelly Guillen, special education director at Amarillo ISD. “And if that plan needs to change based off how they choose to enroll, we’ll make that change.”

They have about 4,300 special education students, and Guillen says a good number of them have chosen to learn remotely.

She says there will be challenges, like learning how to use their PPE and how to practice social distancing.

Another challenge will be enforcing the mandatory mask order.

“If you have a child who is in special education, their ARD committee will address that and make a plan if wearing the mask is a problem,” said Guillen. “If you have a child who is receiving 504 services, who can’t wear the mask because of a reason, the 504 committee will deal with that individually to make a plan.”

However, AISD says they will do whatever is best to support the families.

“I just want people to know we’re ready to do whatever we need to do to support the families decision,” said Guillen.

Hereford ISD’s back to school guide states all accommodations will remain in effect and that parents can schedule meetings to review them.

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