Remote learning presents challenges for students with special needs

Local News
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DENVER (KDVR) — Remote learning can be difficult for both students and parents. For parents with special needs children, it can be even more challenging.

“I think this is going to be pretty difficult for him,” said Penny Dutka in regards to her son.

Dutka’s 4-year-old son James is just starting pre-school in the St. Vrain Valley School District.

James is on an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for his special needs. Given the difficulties he already faces, his parents aren’t sure how a remote learning plan will pan out.

“He’s only 4, so sitting in front of a computer screen is hard anyway,” Dutka said.

Some parents who have children in special education classes fear their kids might not only fall behind academically with remote learning, but they could also miss out on developmental milestones that are important to their individual growth.

In Thornton, Abbey Foust is concerned her 11-year-old son Christopher, who attends fifth grade in the Adams12 School District, will get confused by remote learning.

“This year is tough for him,” Foust said.

When Christopher attends school in-person he’s inside a classroom 75% of the time, but gets pulled out for his individual special needs groups the other 25%.

“I met with his special education teacher and asked, ‘What’s the plan? How does this work remotely?’ and so he said, ‘Well, he’ll have his classroom Zooms, but he’ll get pulled out of his classroom Zooms to come to my Zoom.’ I work all the time and so does my husband, so I’m trying to figure out how to explain this for an 11-year-old who doesn’t work on computers all the time,” Foust said.

There is no easy path, according to parents. They’re just working with their schools and special needs teachers as they move forward.

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