Students with special needs may have to make more adjustments this fall

Plans for students with special needs

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Many schools have adopted a virtual or blended model for the upcoming school year.

So how will students with special needs be accommodated this fall? Many schools are still trying to iron out the kinks of how they will accommodate students with special needs. In fact, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey said this is an area about reopening schools where we struggle the most.

But school leaders in St. Clair County and Bessemer said they are doing their best to meet the needs of all students.

As many schools look ahead to the upcoming school year, those who have adopted remote learning models say students with special needs are top of mind.

“What we try to do is assure parents that we will be following the IEP to the best of our ability and if they are fully online, there will be some changes to the current IEP because most of the ones that are currently written are for a traditional setting,” explained Superintendent of St. Clair County, Mike Howard.

But it’s not just IEPs school leaders need to be concerned about. Students who depend on schools for occupational and physical therapy may have to make even more adjustments.

“And so we’ll provide opportunities for off-site visitation and maybe a mutual meeting place to provide those services and there will also be opportunities for the student to come to the school in order to receive some extra services as well,” Howard said.

“We will provide training to the parents and then if the parent decides that they want the student to come to the school, we’re looking at options for that,” said Director of Special Education for Bessemer City Schools, Dr. Renee Holley.

Some, if not all, of the OT, PT and speech therapy will take place online.

Dr. Mackey says that’s difficult to grasp.

“You know, if you need physical therapy there’s a difference in having a physical therapist in the room working with your legs than getting a physical therapist Zooming into you,” said Dr. Mackey.

“Vulnerable children whether they’re children with special needs or our English Language Learners, the children with mental health needs, those are the ones that keep me up at night because those are…they’re very difficult, struggling situations,” Dr. Mackey said.

School leaders said in-home visits will be limited because of safety concerns.

Teachers are being offered personal development classes to be ready for the upcoming year.

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