What a difficult time for students! As a parent, grandparent, former assistant superintendent, and principal, I am disheartened to see some public schools open and many still closed. I cannot rationalize why private schools in my own community are open and yet the public school on my block is still closed for daily instruction.
Virtual and hybrid instructional programs severely limit the instructional venue for all students because that relationship between student and teacher is curtailed or eliminated. The teacher/student relationship is the foundation for effective instruction. How easy it is for students to “pretend” that they are part of the educational give and take in a classroom when they are on Zoom? This is true when classrooms operate during a regular school year, but significantly worse during virtual/hybrid instruction.
What a disservice to our students. This is especially true for students with learning challenges. Special needs students require intense one-on-one instruction by specially trained educators. This is challenging work, but essential to ensure the development of effective literacy and math skills. Students with learning challenges need trained educators to traverse their very challenging road. Learning disability specialists, physical therapists, speech pathologists and occupation therapists must meet with students on a regular basis to simultaneously creative a strong educational relationship and to provide them with effective strategies for success.
With the new federal infusion of funds to education, and with educational voids this year, we must ensure that qualified instructors are trained to meet learning challenges throughout the calendar year. We must schedule comprehensive summer programs to help special students meet their challenges this summer through comprehensive academic programs that infuse instruction with recreation. Services should be offered throughout July and August daily so that students begin to recap the instructional time that was eliminated or curtailed this year.
Gerald Kirshenbaum, a retired educator of public and private schools, is the CEO of Call Associates, a special needs advocacy firm. For more information, 201-214-8325