How one special needs school is keep their kids on track during the coronavirus

Posted at 1:36 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 13:36:38-04

While the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we educate our children, teachers are helping parents and students as they adjust.

Today, we show you how one school for special needs students is facing pandemic challenges while making sure their students don’t fall behind.

“I miss them a lot and I want them back,” said 15-year-old Peter Bradford, who has Down syndrome.

His special education plan at Great Heights Academy includes academic, social, emotional, communication and life goals to make sure he’s staying on track, but for a student like Peter, there is no virtual program that can replace everything he received when he attended school in person.

“It’s hard on Peter because he’s a very active boy. He likes sports. He misses his special olympics, his baseball, so it’s been rough on him. He does miss hiss teacher, he loves all of his teachers,” said Peters mother.

“In the IEP, we face greater challenges in the part where it’s independent skills, life skills where we need to teach them fine motor skills if a child has difficulty writing. We’re not there there to physically use our strategies,” Khia Lopez, Founder of Greater Heights Academy.

When schools closed in March, the biggest challenge the charter school had to overcome was helping parents find the time to help their kids.

“They have to work from home and they have to do their thing but then a typical classroom would run from 8-3. So the way we were able to overcome that challenge was I had some of my teachers working as late as 5 or 6 o clock at night, so that they can still get their academic time in,” said Khia.

Khia says parents have the option to choose from online, hybrid or on-campus courses, but if they choose to do online, she’s going to need the help of a parent or an applied behavior analysis therapist.

“If they want to do the online, we need the parent or ABA support at home so that they can sit with their child. We will provide the instruction but we just need to make sure that they’re sitting in focus.

Khia said they’re following CDC guidelines to make sure students and teachers are safe for this upcoming school year, including offering smaller class sizes.

If you’re interested in learning more about IEP’s offered at Great Heights Academy, you can call 786-773-2285.