Chicago Public Schools

Parents of Kids With Special Needs Face Difficult Choices During Pandemic

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With the coronavirus pandemic still raging, parents of children who require “Individualized Education Programs” due to developmental challenges are concerned that education plans being put forward won’t be enough to keep their children from falling behind.

Many of those parents feel trapped between a rock and a hard place, including Evelyn Perez-Horita. For her, remote learning is a concerning option because of her daughter’s attention issues, but going back into a classroom setting could also pose unique challenges.

“It’s going to be rough on kids anyway, but for a kid with significant challenges, what are we going to do?” she asked. “If we go back to school, she’s not going to wear a mask because she chews on it, and (if she’s at home) she is all over me even right now.”

If Chicago Public Schools choose to go with a remote learning model to start the year, many parents, including Melissa Macek, are concerned because of the struggles they had in getting help for their children earlier this year when the district switched to online learning.

“It’s gonna be up to the parent, and that’s what’s unfortunate,” she said.

Her daughter also has an “IEP,” and says receiving support from CPS was challenging when the pandemic first hit.

“I haven’t really heard anything that they plan to do differently for kids with IEP’s this fall,” she said. “It makes me really skeptical that they know what to do from a remote learning standpoint.”

Both Macek and Perez-Horita hope that CPS will hold a virtual town hall meeting just for students who require IEP’s, so that parents can voice their concerns.

“I think we definitely need to be at that table,” Macek said.

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