At the beginning of the stay at home orders some families, mine included, saw it as a time to re-group, slow down, go to the beach. Some families of children with special needs panicked and then got into a routine. That was weeks ago. We are about to complete the 6th week of school closures and many want to know when this is going to be over.
Most common questions I’m asked, as an ed. consultant/advocate, are “can the school make me be a home school parent?”, “how does my child get distance learning when I can’t get him to sit down to pay attention”, and “what can I make the school district provide?”. We are in un-chartered waters and I can not emphasize that enough. Some schools, such as on-line charter schools, were better prepared for this. Some NPS schools, such as Winston, figured it out right away and their students are getting the 4 hours/day of instruction, online. Others are getting piecemeal lessons or independent study (packets sent home weekly) and not distance learning. I’m also seeing disparity among what teachers are providing within schools. For the first time parents are seeing that, too, since they are now in the classroom.
To answer some of the questions–no, the school can not hold you to teaching your child’s lessons online. I suggest that you come up with a routine that works for you, supplement what the school has sent with activities and materials that work best for your child, and document (keep a list) of what you’ve done. If watching a Zoom for class meetings isn’t beneficial, let the teacher know and ask for suggestions. If possible, ask for the teacher to do it on facetime 1:1 with your child or to make a youtube video (since they love watching videos) instead of Zoom or Google. To answer the question “what can I make the school provide” –it’s tricky as these are times when everyone is being asked to be reasonable and schools may not be held to the same standard via distance learning as they are in a brick and mortar building. Offer suggestions of what works for you; talk to your case manager or program specialist. Ask for more, but do it reasonably. That means that for the meantime, school is in the home and you are being asked to facilitate the lessons. In making lemonade out of lemons, this is an opportunity to document how your child learns and will allow you more valued input when you sit at the IEP table in the Fall.