Combining Online and In-Person Learning Could Put Disabled Students Even Further Behind
Educational software tools just caught up to their needs only to be disrupted by staggered in-person learning.
The sudden change to online-only learning was already placing unfair burdens on students with physical and cognitive disabilities, but a switch to a model of some virtual learning with some in-classroom days could disrupt carefully built routines and workarounds at this point. Opening schools too soon also puts students who are immuno-compromised or have a disability that makes them vulnerable to the virus at far greater risk as well. Students often had trouble using regular laptops and education technology or software other students did both because of physical and cognitive learning disabilities. These tools were simply not made to accommodate many disabilities, but the tech world is responding and attempting to give special needs students workarounds and necessary software patches as well as modified hardware. However, some students do need in-person instruction to help with attention problems and physical limitations. Switching back and forth doesn't allow these students to develop a steady routine, one they were just getting to as full-time remote learners. It is also a logistical hassle for kids, parents, and school districts. Not only do these students need more attention while learning in-person and virtually, some require special transportation to and from school. Blended learning schedules may be a challenge in that regard. Some disabled students are also just at high-risk for illnesses in regular times, more so during the pandemic. Opening schools too soon without clear and robust safety measures could be putting them and their families at risk for a host of medical issues.