Teaching Special Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic




DRESDEN (August 14) – There are currently over 600 students who are involved with the special education system in Weakley County for this year and that close to 520 of those will be in-person with the rest opting for online options. There will be over 30 teachers to work with students in the special education system. There is over 70 facility that works with students in special education which includes, bus monitors, speech and behavioral workers, social workers, and school physiologist.

Supervisor of Special Education Deborah Perkins stated that each student normally has an IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) meeting at the end of every school year. These meetings are for a team of teachers, parents, and other specialists to discuss the needs of the student and make changes for the upcoming year. Because of the classes going online last school year, these meetings were not able to happen until late July and the beginning of August.

This year in the IEP meetings the student's team discussed with parents not only about the needs of the student this year but also a plan for distant learning if classes go online. Every student’s plans for the upcoming school year and plan for distance learning is different. This is from each student has specific needs.

Perkins stated that in a made-up scenario, a student with a speech impairment who is taking online classes could have many different options. The student could have the option to use the same online learning platform as other students. The student could have speech therapy online through a live video or could be done in person. This decision would be decided on during the IEP meeting.

“There are a variety of options which are dependant on the child’s needs and the family's needs on how those services are done,” Deborah Perkins stated.

For students that have in-person classes, these students will continue to learn the courses required for their grade level. Some students could have a change in their class schedule. For students with a learning or behavioral disability will continue the services needed. Perkins stressed that no student will be turned away with a speech, learning, behavioral, or any other need. Teachers will also make sure that all students have a positive emotional and mental attitude when returning to school.

If classes must move to an online setting, all teachers and special education workers will continue to report to school as normal. They will work through using the computer to provide the services needed for each student. Parents are also being given information about services and recourses for their children.

All students’ health will continue to be the top priority for all teachers this year. For special education students, some might have a sensory issue and wearing masks might be an issue. Perkins stated that wearing masks is something that each family discussed with teachers during the IEP meeting.

Most schools will be trying to have the same educational experiences for students this year and special education will be no different.