There’s something not discussed often enough. While writing about the pandemic, we’ve talked about housing. We’ve talked about education. We’ve even talked about the potential effect that lockdowns and virtual learning could be having. Recently, Texas A&M received a grant to research virtual learning and its effect on students in rural areas. In areas where there is limited broadband or access to computers, there have been effects on literacy rates.
We may not know the complete affect that virtual learning had, especially combining it with lockdowns and a global pandemic, especially among low-income communities. However, while all of that is true, there is an especially vulnerable group not often enough discussed. That group is students with disabilities or special needs. These students received special accommodations when they are in the classroom, however, once learning became virtual, they struggled during the pandemic.
Students with special needs, especially ones from low-income communities, faced increased vulnerabilities in these educational settings. This exact issue is what a new program at Touro College aims to address. It’s why we’re happy to hear that a grant from the Carvel Foundation was awarded to fund this new initiative.
Students With Special Needs May Benefit From New Initiative
Last year, the Washington Post wrote about how special education students were losing critical skills during the pandemic. Services that helped these students with their specific needs were canceled, or not adjusted properly. Under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, these students are supposed to be guaranteed services tailored to their specific needs. But because of the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual learning, many students lost access to these services. There are multiple reasons for this, and the pandemic is something that society at large hasn’t had to deal with in over 100 years to this extent.
Parents are not always equipped to replicate these services, especially as it pertains to virtual schools. This is an issue. Many students still in a hybrid situation or virtual learning are still severely affected. These situations are where this new program is hoping to help.
Here’s What This Program Will Do
The Carvel Foundation awarded a $45,000 grant to the program. This initiative, offered through the ABA program at The School of Health Sciences, is a two-pronged, 12-week program. The program will utilize technology to provide eligible parents with essential tools that they need to work through potential obstacles at home. This program will also focus on increasing independence and enhancing social skills for these children. (Author’s note: This sounds similar to The ‘Life Skills‘ Program offered to students with disabilities in-school)
This program will be free of charge for eligible families and will include training videos. In addition, families will work with a team consisting of a Touro student intern and a licensed supervisor who will provide 12 customized virtual pieces of training for parents and children.
Hopefully, students will be able to gain access to these services, and more as more schools begin to return to in-person learning. These kinds of programs can help both students and their families, especially during such a crucial time. We hope this initiative gives the help needed for students with disabilities and special needs, and recognizes there’s so much more that needs to be done.