Survey Suggests Schools Experienced Both Challenges and Successes During Pandemic

I have been frequently asked what I thought was the impact of remote learning on our students. I have numerous thoughts but minimal data to support my views other than data from IEPs. So, I was very interested in the results of a naturally distributed survey to explore how classroom-based early childhood personnel delivered remote services to younger children with disabilities and their families during the early months of COVID-19.

Many of the findings were similar what we experienced:

  • Services switched to more indirect services, providing coaching and support to parents and families, as they have become the provider or teacher.
  • School goals shifted to home goals based on families’ priorities and interests in functional activities.
  • Social goals were difficult to achieve due to lack of peers unless there were siblings in the family.
  • The frequency of virtual services was determined based on duration of session. Often there was a reduction in service minutes. For example, we found that for the child who had a 30-minute session, it was not realistic to expect a 3 to 5-year-old to sit for that length of time in a teletherapy session.

We also found there were some very positive outcomes:

  • It was a great opportunity to partner with the family and show them strategies that we use in the classroom to help support their child.
  • Families were receptive to remote coaching and committed to working with their child at home.
  • Increased engagement with families during online IEP meetings. In fact, we are going to maintain online IEP meetings as an option for families.

Certainly, there were a mix of successes and challenges. However, what we learned over the past two years has made us better prepared to conduct remote sessions, should they be necessary, in the future.

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