Parents Struggle to Help Students With Disabilities at Home

As the coronavirus increasingly spread across the country, school districts took different approaches to learning. Some decided to postpone school until it could be in person. Others created material with their lowest-performing students in mind. Others decided not to use virtual methods at all.

In Florida counties like Flagler County, all of the instruction is virtual, and in Volusia County, families without access to technology or the internet had the option to get paper packets of instructional materials, but they’re generalized. The online materials allow for more specialized instruction. 

Liz Kolb, a professor of education technologies and teacher education at the University of Michigan, told USA Today that online learning and virtual instruction can increase gaps in equity. And learning to bridge those gaps takes time.

That’s what Katie Kelly, a civil rights attorney from Community Legal Services of Mid-Florida, has seen with her clients. As the Volusia and Flagler counties school districts try to provide services virtually or prep parents on how to do it in the meantime, Kelly said the resulting system isn’t fair for families who are entitled under federal law to free, equitable education.

“None of this is free or appropriate if you’re having to do the work of a teacher, and none of this is free or appropriate if you’re having to educate your child by yourself,” Kelly said.

The directors of exceptional student education in Volusia and Flagler counties both explained that they did not expect significant disruptions in the services they were providing to students and families. Some evaluations must be postponed, and some services modified. Overall, they expected to rise to the new challenges caused by the pandemic.

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