Class is now in session for all school districts in Coachella Valley as Desert Sands Unified School District begins their first day of school via distance learning. NBC Palm Springs spoke to a parent who had concerns about distance learning for her children with special needs saying her biggest fear is her kids will fall behind.
For children with special needs going to school was never easy, what may seem like simple milestones requires years of world and a lot of hands-on support. With instruction beginning online in every local public school district, parents fear their child will experience a backward slide.
“I have two kids with special needs, one is severe and the other one has autism, and I was really concerned about the severe child because it was a little bit hard last year with the distance learning with him, to reach him,” said Lori Enroth, Desert Sands Unified School District Parent.
Governor Newsom recognizes the unique challenges these families face, and that online learning simply doesn’t work for everyone.
“Governor Newsom did announce that he is looking at California schools, even those on the monitoring list will be able to provide small group and one on one instruction for our students with disabilities and other students with acute needs,” explained Laura Fisher, Assistant Superintendent of Desert Sands Unified School District.
“The guidelines we put out recently afford the ability for districts to make a determination for those with acute needs to allow in-person instruction, even with the broader guidelines we put out,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.
School districts are waiting for more guidance on how exactly they can apply for these small group programs and they expect answers sometime next week. In addition, the Desert Sands Unified School District has announced a new virtual program to help students with special needs.
“This is a program that is coming out of the united kingdom and it is specifically designed to support our moderate-severe students with more significant cognitive delays particularly in those areas that are more difficult to engage within an online format,” said Dr. Charity Plaxton-Hennings, Senior Director of Special Education, DSUSD.
The district wants to stress to parents that this is an unprecedented time and they don’t expect perfection.
“What counts as attendance is not only them participating in their class is what which is what we want, we understand with some of our students with disabilities that can be a challenge, so there are other ways they can attend through completing an assignment,” added Fisher.
And for families that need help in any way, the district stresses that parents should reach out to case managers. For more information on all programs, you can visit https://www.dsusd.us/ or call the DSUSD tech hotline at 760-238-9815.