TUCSON, Ariz. — Lessons in this special education program definitely look different.
“So, we have the whole class, all the aides come on, I come on and we sing songs together and we say good morning. It’s just a way for us to come together. and then the rest of the day I do small groups no more than three or four kids at a time.”
Victoria Arredondo, or Ms. V as here students call her, sits at a computer in an empty classroom inside Mission Manor Elementary School.
“It’s really difficult for our students,” Arredondo said.
To make remote learning possible for her students, Ms. V is working very closely with parents.
“Basically be the aides that we normally have in the classroom and they are sitting there one on one with the student and helping them through,” Arredondo said.
When it comes to an online classroom, everything is on a case by case basis. Some parents say instead of progressing, their kids are actually going backwards.
“A lot of parents said they feel like their kids are regressing. So, we're seeing behaviors that they never used to show before like aggressive behaviors or they are starting to have accidents."
Then there are students who don’t have help at home.
“The hardest part is not being able to reach the kids that don't have an adult there to help them out and not being able to help the parents that are single parents or working parents,” said Arredondo.
Some kids have been able to adjust.
“Then I have other kids that have acclimated just fine to being home all the time and doing it online and they're used to the schedule."
A schedule is crucial for kids with special needs.
“I feel like we've found our flow. We've found a routine for the most part. Parents know how to get online know how to turn assignments on google classroom,“ Arredondo said.
In October, hybrid learning is scheduled to begin and that will bring a whole new set of challenges.
“One thing that I’m nervous about is because a lot of kids have regressed, I don't even know if we'll be able to get to academics the first few weeks that they are back.
Ms. V will most likely have to reteach classroom routines and introduce news ones like washing hands and wearing masks.
“That's going to be something difficult to enforce especially with our kids who have sensory issues. They don’t even like wearing name tags when we take field trips, so how are we going to enforce that."
Some parents like April Marie Cruz-Moran are sticking with remote learning.
“We’re just not ready to send her to school at the moment. Just with the virus, we don’t want her to get sick,” Cruz-Moran said.
“I just hope everyone stays healthy, not just the students, but ourselves as well all the adults that are coming here, putting ourselves at risk,” Arredondo said.
Many parents are forever grateful for that.
“I just want to take the time to thank Miss V. Thank you so much for being such a great teacher and for all your work that you put into it the passion you show with your students. You’re caring and your kindness,” Cruz-Moran said.
Hybrid learning begins October, 19th for the Sunnyside School District.
Parents still have the option to keep their students in remote learning.
Ms. V said at least 6 parents in the special education program are thinking about sending their kids back into the classroom.