Giving Compass' Take:

• Samantha Smylie and Mila Koumpilova explains how remote learning places a life-altering burden on parents of children with disabilities.

• How critical is it that we find solutions for remote learning for children with special needs? What can we do to develop effective support systems for parents of children with disabilities during coronavirus?

• Look for resources to help support those struggling during coronavirus.

Chicago families started the school year by logging onto online classes last week. All parents are struggling to navigate remote learning, childcare, and work. For parents of children with special needs, those issues are magnified.

Chicago Public Schools has pledged this year will be better for students in special education. But it’s still unclear how the district will provide some services virtually — and the burden on parents is huge. Many are already overwhelmed.

One parent worries about going back to work without child care

Mary Ottinot is a mother of three children with special needs. Ottinot’s youngest child —who she asked Chalkbeat not to name — is a kindergartener with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, and cerebral palsy. She needs the most support with virtual classes, her mother said.

Before the coronavirus closed school buildings in the spring, Ottinot’s daughter had a paraprofessional to help her with class assignments, consultations with a speech-language pathologist weekly to help her understand how language works, and sessions with a social worker. Without a paraprofessional sitting beside her to help her click links or focus on classwork, it’s difficult for her to do her schoolwork.

Another issue that Ottinot faces is childcare. In addition to her 5 year old, she has children aged 12 and 15.

Ottinot is a nurse who cannot work from home and cannot go to work without having someone watch her children. Ottinot applied for her family to receive childcare from the district, which is operating childcare sites at six schools around the city. She said her application was denied.

“I can’t leave my daughter. I don’t even know how I’m going to go to work but I need to go back,” she said.

Read the full article about parents of children with disabilities during remote learning by Samantha Smylie and Mila Koumpilova at Chalkbeat.