AUSTIN, Texas - Children being left behind is a fear many families have especially those with special needs as schools prepare for virtual learning in the fall. The Texas School for the Deaf, like most central Texas schools, will begin classes online.
Superintendent Claire Bugen said when COVID-19 caused schools to close in the spring it was tough. However, Bugen guarantees online classes will be significantly upgraded in August.
The public institution purchased a learning management system that will help coordinate instruction material, attendance, and be a better communicational vehicle for parents.
“We are anxious to get our kids back on campus. There is no substitute for in-person learning,” said Bugen. “We need to get our kids back on campus and focus on the whole child, mental health issues, social, emotional issues, we need to assess learning gaps and determine how we are going to remediate those in addition to moving forward.”
TSD accepts students from across the state serving about 7,000 people who are deaf or are hard of hearing.
Till September 8th there will be no sports, no extracurriculars on campus, and no residential housing. Bugen said when the campus does open back up they’ll have health and safety protocols in place to mitigate the spread of the virus.
Virtual learning will cause students to experience some loss.
Bugen emphasized the need for in-person services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and independent living experiences. “There’s no question that in-person learning is what is best for students with special needs," said Bugen. “At the same time this pandemic has people responding differently to it and that’s why I think our state is doing the right thing by allowing parents to make the decision. We really have the responsibility to accommodate both.”
TSD sent out a poll to parents midsummer and anticipates sending another one out to gauge how many parents plan to have their child return to on-campus instruction.
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