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COVID-19 and Special Needs Education

These are tough times for everyone. In a matter of weeks, one tiny, airborne virus has managed to wreak havoc all across the world. With countries now taking more serious preventive measures (such as "stay at home" measures), now once bustling streets are now empty, store shelves are barren, and the scariest part, hospitals are overflowing. More than the actual illness itself, COVID-19 has single-handedly managed to turn the world into a dystopian movie while submerging humankind into murky waters filled with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. Absolutely unbelievable.

One institution that is struggling in the midst of this crisis are schools. Now, as schools across the country are closing due to COVID-19, educators are scrambling to put together new lesson plans to ease students into online learning. Will "e-learning" happen for the rest of the school year? No one knows. Only time will tell. As teachers make their new curriculum, they face one daunting question: what do school closures mean for special needs students?

With the transition to e-learning, it is expected that every student should have access to the same amount of learning, resources, and help as they would if they were at school. The following are list of curriculum questions that educators are facing with regards to special needs education:

  • How does online learning a good source for all kids to get an enriching education?

  • How does online learning affect the way therapy is given?

  • How will physical/occupational therapy be given? Is it expected of the parents to do so? If so, how will parents be trained?

  • Is it even fair for online learning to take place if some students have an inherent advantage to learning/accessing material than others?


These questions have no easy solution. Across the country, different school systems respond to these questions differently. Some schools, like in New York, are putting special needs kids first and planning the rest of the curriculum around them. Other schools are considering to not do e-learning all together. With such inconsistency of curriculum across the nation, one might argue that 2020 students do not have a proper education. But again, only time will tell.

With all said and done, it takes every single one of us to stop the spread of COVID-19. Please, dear readers, take care of yourselves, practice social distancing, and listen to what doctors and government officials have to say. If we all do our part, this crisis may end sooner than we think.

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