COVID-19’s Effects on Special Education

3 Min Read

COVID-19 protocols have had dramatic effects on special education, making learning a bit challenging for many students. Students in special education programs often require specific help provided during in-person learning sessions that are very difficult to provide remotely. Learn more about how the pandemic has affected children in special education programs.

COVID-19 has been difficult for all students, but especially difficult for students in special education programs. Remote education keeps children safe from the spread of COVID-19, but can make their learning experience harder. These children were sometimes left without the resources provided at school that they needed to succeed.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to remote learning also proved that special needs families can be incredibly resilient. These families fought for their children to receive the kind of education that they deserved. Parents worked with teachers to find new ways to communicate, schedule classes, and help children achieve their goals.

Special educators learned and adapted along with students. When teaching remotely, it can be difficult to connect with special education students as body language and eye contact are incredibly helpful when working with children with disabilities. Educators have worked hard to help special education students feel included.

How Have COVID-19 Protocols Affected Special Education?

Every student has had a change in their daily routine throughout the past year and a half due to COVID restrictions. Special education students and students with disabilities can heavily rely on routines and in-person learning. When many schools shut down, lots of special education students were adversely affected by the change. The loss of a daily routine and critical special educators made remote learning even harder for students and parents. Let’s take a closer look at how COVID-19 protocols adversely affected special education.

Disruption in Daily Routine

One of the most important things for children is to establish and follow a daily routine. This routine helps to ground children by letting them know what to expect each day. Without a daily routine, children in special education programs can get flustered and frustrated, causing a negative impact on their studies.

Loss of Paraprofessionals

Special education students had access to speech therapists, occupational therapists, behavioral assistants at school. When schools started doing remote learning, it was much more difficult to schedule remote learning sessions with these professionals that required hands-on work. Limited access to these professionals and their curriculum can cause problems with improving a child’s development. This puts extra strain on parents and caregivers to provide similar services during learning.

Remote Learning

During the pandemic, parents became teachers at home. They often did not have the technology or the resources needed to provide their children with a similar learning experience. This led to a decline in student performance and attendance.

Families and teachers were able to adapt to remote learning as time went on. Educators refined their remote learning schedules and practices to meet the needs of students. Parents of children in special education programs found strategies that worked for their child’s needs to ensure they got the education they deserved at home.

Back to School 2021: How to Support Your Child

Parents and caregivers should encourage their children to embrace the 2021/2022 school year whether they are still learning remotely or heading back to school. The past year and a half has been difficult, but it is important to stay positive during these unprecedented times.

Here are some tips for going back to school for the 2021/2022 school year:

  • Know your child’s schedule. Some schools are fully remote, some are hybrid, and some are fully in-person. Keep in mind that schedules may change as pandemic conditions change so you should be prepared.
  • Don’t assume that your child will be learning remotely or staying in-person for the entire school year. Being flexible is a good strategy.
  • You want to work with your child to build confidence so that they feel they are mentally prepared for each day.
  • Make sure you build relationships with your child’s instructors.
  • Understand the strategies that special needs educators use.
  • Keep your child engaged. You need to ensure that they are focused and prepared for instruction each day.

With the proper support, your child can have a fantastic school year. Despite the pandemic, there are still opportunities available for learning and educators are improving their remote strategies all the time. Special education programs can provide your child with a tremendous educational experience this year.

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View 4 Sources
  1. Catherine Ullman Shade, PhD, and PhD Janice Ware. “Making Special Education Work for Your Child during COVID-19.” Harvard Health, 26 Oct. 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-special-education-work-for-your-child-during-covid-19-2020102621189.
  2. “How Covid-19 Has Affected Special Education Students.” Tufts Now, 29 Sept. 2020, https://now.tufts.edu/articles/how-covid-19-has-affected-special-education-students.
  3. Long, Cindy. “What COVID-19 Taught Us about Special Education.” NEA, https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/what-covid-19-taught-us-about-special-education.
  4. “Supporting Students in Special Education through COVID-19.” Reading Rockets, 13 Aug. 2021, https://www.readingrockets.org/reading-rockets-nea-guide/supporting-students-special-education-through-covid-19.