Some concerned about in-person instruction for children with disabilities

Some concerned about in-person instruction for children with disabilities
The first group of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students will transition to in-person learning next week, and about 1,200 students with disabilities will be back in the classroom Tuesday.

CHARLOTTE — The first group of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students will transition to in-person learning next week, and about 1,200 students with disabilities will be back in the classroom Tuesday.

Education reporter Elsa Gillis spoke with a teacher about her concerns and with a district leader who can’t wait to see students back.

“We are thrilled -- thrilled to be able to bring them back,” said Ann White, associate superintendent of Exceptional Children.

Content Continues Below

She said a learning environment that is not remote is necessary.

There will be safety protections beyond wearing a mask, which she knows some students can’t wear.

“A new cleaning protocol, attestation form, symptom screening,” White said. "We’ve also got the isolation room. We’ve got a protocol for handling positive cases. We’ve got the PPE that’s necessary.

However, some teachers are concerned.

A teacher, who did not reveal her identity, said she and many of her colleagues believe their safety is not being fully considered.

“I completely get that children with special needs need to be in-person,” the teacher said. “Teachers have families, and we have concerns about being safe, and we want everyone to be safe, and it shouldn’t be limited to just your child.”

She said she thinks the move to bring students back is being rushed.

“If it’s not safe for everyone, then it shouldn’t be safe for anyone,” she said.

Gillis brought up those concerns with White.

“That makes me really, really sad,” White said. “After speaking with doctors and nurses and our health contacts, I feel really confident that we are meeting every level of safety for our teachers.”

White said the district has worked tirelessly to address staff concerns.

The teacher Gillis spoke with is also worried about how safety protocols in school, such as keeping students in one place much of time, will affect learning.

Gillis also asked White about students with complex medical needs that would make social distancing nearly impossible.

Teachers in that type of learning environment will have the same PPE that would be at a medical facility, White told Gills.

>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the pandemic -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.