Some special needs parents say COVID education options present development challenges

Written by on August 31, 2020

Some special needs parents say COVID education options present development challenges

By Chloe Nouvelle

August 31, 2020

Photo | Chloe Nouvelle / WLVR

When schools closed in March many parents became teachers overnight. But for those who have children with special needs, virtual learning presented a real-world challenge. 

And as WLVR’s Chloe Nouvelle reports some parents say they fear they’re losing valuable time to help their children develop.

Sammy Campbell Has autism spectrum disorder. He’s fourteen and heading into ninth grade at Bangor Area High School. His mom Caterina says she struggles keeping up with his virtual assignments, along with her other children’s too. It was too much for her alone. 

“I feel Sammy’s education was not being met. And it wasn’t because of the school district. It was because I couldn’t handle it. I couldn’t handle educating three kids.”

She says it wasn’t an easy decision, but she’s Sending Sammy back to school in-person this fall.

“School is there for the education piece. But when you have a child on the spectrum, it’s also there for the social piece. And he’s missing all of that.”

But for other special needs parents, Like Nikki Huggan, going back is not an option.

“It takes a village at school to do what my son especially needs,” said Huggans.

Her son Gavin is eight and about to start third grade. He’s immunocompromised and has a progresive muscle disorder. 

“He’s in a wheelchair at school for part of the time. By the time he goes back with all this lack of services, he could be in a wheelchair much more of the time at school, which already makes him different.”

Huggan is going to keep Gavin at home for now. But she says she’s worried about his education down the line.  

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently announced 20 million dollars will be sent to schools to help fund special education through the pandemic.

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