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Serving Students With Special Needs During Coronavirus: ‘No Easy Solutions’

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In California, more than 795,000 children qualify for special education services in school because of an identified disability. In many ways, these are the state’s most vulnerable learners.

But the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted the ability of many public schools to fully deliver on fundamental guarantees made to these students, whose disabilities range from dyslexia to hearing loss to autism.

One month after schools first closed their campuses, many parents report basic special education services still aren't happening. Services that have resumed look very different from what anyone originally planned. Even some experts say tracking students’ progress will be extraordinarily difficult.

Here’s how one LAUSD speech and language therapy teacher, who asked not to be identified by name, put it:

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There are no easy solutions here. I don't know how I am going to overcome the structural challenges of providing virtual support to that student. I don't think LAUSD does either. I don't think anybody truly does.

I wrote a story breaking down four of the biggest issues facing special education during the coronavirus crisis. There aren’t many definitive answers, but I wanted to outline a few of the questions.


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