Parents struggle with decision to send children back to school if classrooms reopen

Others say their children with special needs need face to face instruction

VIDEO: Parent of child with special needs wants kids back in class

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Many parents are anxiously waiting for Lowcountry school districts to finalize their plans for reopening, but others have reservations about sending their kids back to inside classrooms this fall.

What many parents and teachers alike don’t want to see is that schools choose one model for reopening classrooms, then they have to change things in the middle of the semester.

Parents say consistency is important for their kids who lost traditional class time and instruction because of COVID closures last school year, but they question the rush to return.

“I think the people making these decisions need to have been in a classroom…as in teaching in a classroom and understand how that works. I think a lot of the things being proposed are asinine. It’s just crazy,” Berkeley County parent Ansley Hammond said. “I think my big thing is concern, safety for the teachers, but mental health is huge.”

Other parents say their children need to get back in their classrooms in August because of their special needs.

Nicole Poole said her daughter Charlotte has regressed since classrooms closed. Digital learning platforms have not worked for her 8-year old with special needs.

“I do not ever want someone to have to put their own health in jeopardy just to educate children whenever there is an alternative, by any means, but I definitely want people to remember that special education is just that. It’s special. It’s hands-on. It’s patient-driven,” Poole said.

Nicole said weighing the pros and cons of sending her child back to school during a pandemic is similar to the choices she struggles with every day concerning Charlotte’s health.

“While I fully understand the concern, unfortunately this for us is everyday life,” Poole said. “That may sound depressing. It may sound very sad, but those are the cards we were dealt when our daughter was diagnosed and born with special needs.”

The consequences for not returning to classrooms this fall could mean more for children like Charlotte.

“She is unable to sit and focus on things that are so crucial to her learning,” Poole said. “She’s unable to get those services, so for us, because she is in a mild to severe MSD classroom that is self-contained, I feel comfortable sending her back to school,” Poole said.

Nicole feels confident in the safety measures school leaders are considering, but Berkeley County School District leaders are still finalizing plans for next school year.

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