Schools creating specific plans for special needs students

Posted at 6:13 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 19:13:19-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Omaha Public Schools is sticking with their plan to bring students back two to three days a week, alternating each week.

But for special needs kids, they’re coming back full-time.

"We know that it is very important for our learners who need to be in school the most, to be in school every day,” says Dr. Cheryl Logan, superintendent of Omaha Public Schools.

Amy Rhone, Special Education Director for the state of Nebraska, says since students with disabilities have higher needs, missing classroom time could set them back even further.

According to Jenni Benson, a longtime special needs teacher, and now President of the Nebraska Schools Education Association, special education students have very different needs than the regular student body.

"The level of services can go from a five minute consult a day, to having a self-contained setting where that student is in a self-contained classroom, in a self-contained building,” says Benson.

Many area school districts will likely require masks when school returns, including OPS.

This caused one parent to complain during a June 29th OPS school board meeting, saying it’s not feasible for her kids.

"I have two fairly autistic, non-verbal boys, who cannot wear a mask due to their health condition,” says Avery Wallate, parent.

Rhone says other kids may struggle because their teachers and fellow students have masks on.

"Specifically students who are deaf or hard of hearing. They really struggle with not being able to read lips,” says Rhone.

Benson believes schools should enforce the masks requirement and can find ways to make it work with all students.

"There are things that aren't masks that are face covering, there are face shields, I think we can not just say, this isn't going to work. I think we have to say, what is going to work,” says Benson.

Due to the remote learning in the spring, and possibly more during the 2020-2021 school year, Rhone believes all students may be a bit behind.

"We're going to spend the next few years catching everyone up, that includes students with disabilities,” says Rhone.

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