“You know, with therapies, and all the different things that are involved, or can be involved, COVID-19 really highlighted those cracks,” said Joel Davis, a parent of a special needs daughter.
Davis said he’s lucky to live in a district that allows students to learn in-person. However, other families are missing out.
“We’re not professional occupational therapists, we’re not professional speech pathologists. You know, you have to get master’s degrees, and go to school for those things, and it takes years of practice to even be good at it,” Davis said.
State Rep. Rebecca Dow (R-District 38) and Rep. Liz Thomson (D-District 24) have called on the state to look for solutions.
“We may not have the right training, we may not have the right support, we may not have the right specialized highly-qualified staff in each district, but COVID has definitely compounded that,” Rep. Dow said.
“We need to think big. We’re talking about a moonshot for education and for special ed. We’re talking about maybe we can jump over an ant hill and whatever it takes to make sure that something changes, finally, I will do,” Rep. Thomson said.
State Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said it’s an issue they’re trying to address.
“No one will dispute the fact that it is much harder to provide services in the remote environment and that IEP teams, when they come together and meet have had to look at the provisions of what would usually be done in-person get done online,” Stewart said.
Lawmakers said they’re working in groups to come up with a comprehensive plan and hope to have new legislation supporting special education come January.