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ASD working to meet needs of special education students through online learning

ASD said all students will begin school on Aug. 20 with eLearning.
ASD said all students will begin school on Aug. 20 with eLearning.(WJHG/WECP)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 3:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Anchorage School District announced Friday it will begin the school year with eLearning five days a week and that is no exception for students with special needs.

According to Cindy Anderson, ASD’s senior director of special education, the same rules for in-person learning will apply to all students. ASD said that, because the municipality is at a “high-risk” model, all students will be online learning. Anderson said if the risk level changes, in-person learning would be available.

“Our goal is to protect the family, the students, and our staff,” Anderson said. " If it’s low or medium risk, they would be coming in. So absolutely, we would still be doing the face to face. The hard part is we’ll be using PPE, cleaning, distancing, and really working with our students to learn in a different way.”

While students learn online, Anderson said parents will be working closely with school case managers to individualize education for their children.

“We really have to look at how to be flexible and creative in the learning,” she said. “Having a little more time over the summer to build some robust lessons and curriculum, we’ve enhanced our resources and brought some additional curriculum that will help support the instruction.”

Anderson said parent training will also be provided online.

Currently, ASD is completing some in-person evaluations of special needs students, according to Anderson.

”It’s usually one at a time,” Anderson said. “The student comes in, there is a plexiglass shield that is used. There’s PPE, extensive cleaning, we don’t bring in groups of students.”

Kaleb Kuehn, a life skills special education teacher at West High School said, like all parents, online platforms are not always easy to navigate.

“It’s hard because you’re working,” Kuehn said. “And then you have something like this that impacts everything. I think it was really difficult for families because we have students that require such intensive needs.”

Kuehn said the district is doing its best with curriculum and decision making.

“It’s not comfortable for everybody, but we’re gonna continue to work through it,” Kuehn said. “And I have pretty good confidence that we’ll be back.”

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