How schools, parents are handling at-home learning for special needs students

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson
Published: Updated:
Collier County ninth-grader, Sophie. (Provided to WINK News)

Homeschooling can be hard, especially for parents who have never done it before.

But what about parents of special needs children? They’re used to their children getting special one-on-one instruction. Now, they have a Chromebook instead.

”Sophie would be one of the ones that would be considered at risk; she has a lot of other health issues being a child that does have special needs,” said Sophie’s mother, Rachael Voyda.

She says the ninth-grader is safer at home right now.

“I just explain to her there’s something going on right now, people are getting sick,” Voyda said.

Sophie’s big smile says it all. You can tell she likes school and will probably miss it.

“That’s the most difficult part,” Voyda said. “She asks every day about her friends, Mrs. Lins, which is her one-to-one assistant.”

Since Sophie is non-verbal, her family relies on services the Collier County District offers.

”It’s sad because she’s had a lot of great development this year, more so this year than any other year,” Voyda said.

To keep up with that progress, Collier Schools says they will update daily exceptional learning lessons that parents can follow online.

“You can see for kindergarten through grade two, we have numerous activities for kids to do this week,” said Dr. Peggy Aune, associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Collier County schools. ”A number of our students, however, students with significant disabilities, may need another pathway and with that in mind, teachers have designed individual learning plans.”

Charlotte County is printing and designing lesson plans for students who can’t use a Chromebook or computer and Lee County has a video presentation that lays out their plans for ESE students.

“I know we’re going to struggle,” Voyda said. “I say by the end of this week…with me having to be the teacher and mom.”

All schools promise teachers will be in close contact.

Collier County Schools also distributed iPads with approachable apps that students are used to using at school. They say this may help students develop a routine.

If they haven’t reached out to you yet, click here for the contact information.

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