Southern Ontario students with special needs returning to in-person learning
Published Saturday, January 9, 2021 7:12PM EST
KITCHENER -- While most students in Southern Ontario are buckling down for at least two more weeks of online learning, students with special needs will be returning to the classroom.
Jason and Cameron Chard, who are both severe on the autism scale, are just two of the many students who will be back to in-person learning on Monday.
"To learn, for them, is one on one with a teacher or an EA at school," said their mother Sandra Medeiros.
She and their father Ryan Chard add that the in-person learning will bring much needed stability and routine back into their lives.
"They're asking every morning 'school, school, bus, bus,'" said Ryan.
Despite the smaller class sizes though, the parents say they still have safety concerns for their children, like how they're unable to understand masks and don't want to wear them.
"They don't physical distance and they can't really do that," said Medeiros.
Special education teachers who spoke to CTV News echo these statements, say their students are the most vulnerable learners, and if it's not safe to send every student back than their students shouldn't return either.
"There will be a special education teacher, there will be a number of education assistants and other support workers at each side," said Patric Etmanski, president of the Waterloo unit for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association (OETCA). "I don't understand why this couldn't have waited a week or two until hopefully the numbers turn around and go the other direction."
University of Waterloo social development studies professor Kristina Llewellyn is calling for more resources in special education.
"If it's not safe for all students, maybe we need to be looking at other things to support special education learners," she said.
Llewellyn adds that the government and school boards listen to teachers and parents for the best guide and proper protocols to take on the first day of school.