Giving Compass' Take:

• Samantha Smylie, at Chalkbeat, discusses the varying gaps in learning for students in Chicago's remote special education programs.

• How can we make sure students in remote special education programs receive the same support as their peers? What are you doing to remove gaps in remote special education in your community? 

• Look for vetted funds to support. during. the pandemic.

As part of a summer program for children with disabilities, Nicole Abreu’s daughter, a rising third grader at Jahn Elementary on Chicago’s North Side, has been able to receive speech language therapy, services for the visually impaired, and help with her assignments from both a teacher and a paraprofessional.

Her experience hasn’t been perfect. While she has had some access to a social worker through assignments, they haven’t been able to have teletherapy sessions. But Abreu has had a far better time getting the necessary special education services for her daughter than Anna, a mother of a rising fourth grader with dyslexia.

Anna has been acting as both a mother and a special education classroom assistant to get her son to focus on his schoolwork. Her son is currently enrolled at a therapeutic day school in LaGrange, in a southwest suburb of Chicago, through Chicago Public Schools.

“His teachers are just expecting everything to be done on zoom. To be quite honest that doesn’t work for my son. It’s overwhelming to him and he doesn’t learn very well,” Anna said.

Students with special needs have been particularly hard hit by school closures in Chicago during the coronavirus pandemic. Vital services, many of which can only be done in person, disappeared for weeks when campuses shuttered in March — and some students weren’t able to access them for the rest of the school year.

The experiences of these two families — which show how difficult it has been for schools to serve children with special needs outside of the school building and just how wildly such services can vary by individual school — spotlight the challenges ahead as Chicago starts the year remotely.

Read the full article about remote special education by Samantha Smylie at Chalkbeat.