UK schools will be reopened from June 1st, according to the Department for Education. Special education schools have expressed fears of early reopening.
The UK accelerated efforts to reopen the economy and schools will have unforetold consequences on special education students. The guidance released by the government has been silent on how to incorporate these students in classes.
For special education students, learning entails more than teachers conducting lessons through dictation and questions, personal interactions matter. Building relationships with these students is a fundamental part of establishing connections that are needed for an effective lesson.
Special education schools dilemma
However, the guidance released by the government on school reopenings made a single swoop for all students. There were no considerations that some students need special attention in classes.
How different students are handled in a class was also ignored. Social distancing, for instance, will be very hard to implement in a special school. The idea of personal space is almost nonexistent for these students. They also require interventions that are not compatible with social distancing.
Although special education teachers are able to handle the lack of personal space and interventions needed, the coronavirus crisis has upped the ante. The transmission from students to teachers and vice versa is now a concern. The health impact of the virus to these students may also turn catastrophic, as some special education students suffer from pre-existing conditions.
Need for caution
Teachers realize that there is a need to return to normal as soon as possible. However, there will be a huge price to pay, including the spread of coronavirus, if the schools are hastily reopened without making considerations to health factors.
The UK government has already announced that schools will reopen early June. The reopening will be done in phases, depending on which grade students are in.
Teachers are worried about the government plan and are nervous that the guidance plan may end up not working. The government has not indicated the need for personal protection equipment, something that has become a major concern to teachers. This, coupled with other factors, has also led to some teachers union calling for the postponement of school reopenings in June.
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