CHICAGO (CBS) — Working full time and trying to make sure a special needs student is learning – it’s a tough task, and parents from Chicago to Northwest Indiana are worried their schools will not be able to provide the help they will need.
CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas on Monday showed us how some facilities are handling it.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Freezing Overnight
For the Martin family of Munster, Indiana, the kitchen is also the classroom. And that’s not always easy.
“I have two kids in special ed,” said Tracie Martin.
Martin’s kids were part of the local school district – the School Town of Munster. This year, she instead enrolled them in an online charter school.
“They have flexible online scheduling options,” Martin said. “We have great extended breaks in between session. I can watch a recorded lesson later.”
Martin asked Munster for extended breaks and recorded lessons that she could go over with the kids after her work day. But she said the district would not budge.
In fact, school rules dictate that e-learning families are not allowed to record the lessons.
“Six hours in front of a Zoom is difficult for any child to manage, but for children that have attentional issues or special needs children, sitting in front of a Zoom for more than a half an hour in a row is sometimes a huge challenge,” Martin said.
Meanwhile, some Chicago Public Schools special needs parents said they still don’t have clear answers on what their kids’ school days will be like and what kind of flexibility they will have.READ MORE: Emmett Till's Cousin Reacts To Conviction Of Derek Chauvin And Today's State Of Racial Justice; George Floyd's Brother Said Till Was 'The First George Floyd'
One mother said she was “literally terrified.”
An advisory board of parents recently took a survey that got 365 replies from CPS special needs students’ families. Many expressed concerns about how their kids will get support from classroom assistants.
The survey was not organized by CPS, but the group sent the results to the district last Monday.
“Why do we not have a plan in place at this juncture so that our children and families know how to prepare?” the mother said.
The survey also found families appreciated pre-recorded lessons their diverse learners could watch at their own place to complement live instruction. While parents wait to see if that will continue, CPS has announced an all-remote schedule.
Back in Munster, the district gave the families the option of in-person learning, but for Martin, that is another option that doesn’t work.
“I don’t think that’s safe,” she said.
The school superintendent in Munster said the district is making sure students’ needs are met, but they believe in synchronous learning to meet state and federal laws. We also reached out to CPS to see what they are doing to help special needs students’ parents, and we are waiting to hear back.MORE NEWS: Rev. Jesse Jackson After Chauvin Verdict: 'We Must Learn To Live Together As Brothers And Sisters And Not Die Apart'
The CPS parent quoted above said parents are being told they should get more details on their plans sometime Tuesday.