Online learning is a struggle for some students in Special Education programs

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CENTRAL SQUARE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Middle and high schoolers in the Central Square School District have been remote learning for about a month now. One parent with a child in the special education program says it’s been far from easy.

The district has received feedback from some parents who say it’s working well for their kids but for others, like Violet Martin, the district is working on improvements.

“It’s been extremely difficult and frustrating,” said Violet Martin. Her 11-year-old son struggles with reading, which she says makes up a good portion of remote learning.

“Reading for instruction, reading for direction, reading for everything, which makes it virtually impossible for him to do. I’m just literally watching him go from a high honor roll student to failing,” said Martin.

Her son learns in person once a week and Martin wishes it happened more often, but she doesn’t blame Superintendent Tom Colabufo, who says they’re all trying their best.

“The special education teacher can go into a breakout room and have one to one instruction with that child, and then they both go back into the remote classroom together,” said Colabufo.

The superintendent has a child of his own in the special education program and he says he gets it. “I know that frustration from both ends, not only as a superintendent but with my own child I want the best for them,” he said.

Students in the most restrictive special education programs can learn in person five days a week but Colabufo knows that may not be an option for every family.

For those who are still struggling, the district is looking into ways they can add more in-person learning, safely.

“Everybody is trying their best and we all want this to be in our rearview mirror, sooner than later,” said Colabufo.

I don’t blame the superintendent. I think he’s been given impossible restrictions to work with. I think a lot of it falls on the Governor’s shoulders and he needs to lessen some of his restrictions so we can get these kids back in school.

Violet Martin

Aside from the special education programs, Colabufo says the school year seems to be going well.

While they are trying to find ways to incorporate more in-person learning, they want to make sure they can provide consistent education.

“There’s a tipping point. You know, you wanna be able to bring in more students but then you also run the risk of the loss of continuity and consistency to be shut down for two, three, five days, a week,” said Colabufo.

Another thing on their mind: staffing.

Staffing is an issue. Teaching assistants will soon be used as substitute teachers as we’re seeing in other school districts and our county and in Onondaga County, because that’s a struggle right now. We have a teacher who has a cough or has a prolonged runny nose, or a stomach issue that day. Just like the students they have to go to the doctor, and if the doctor can’t give an alternative diagnosis then they need to be tested and that could be three or four days waiting for the results.

Superintendent Tom Colabufo

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