Some parents in Prince George’s County, Maryland, say they've spent thousands of dollars to address challenges they’ve faced with online learning for their children.
Carmella Long's 9-year-old son has autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. When Prince George's County closed schools and moved to online learning in the spring, he was shut off from some of what he needed to learn.
“With all of the children adjusting, learning how to use the technology, it became nightmarish,” Long said.
She said she spends $1,100 a month in therapists and tutors supplementing what he lost.
“I am at my maximum of being able to provide anything else,” she said.
Ronnetta Stanley, who advocates for special needs children through her nonprofit Loud Voices Together, says distance learning created major learning gaps.
“For some students it worked well, but for the larger majority it did not work well because a lot of students did not receive the necessary services that they would receive in the school setting,” she said.
“I've probably talked to over 60 parents myself about their concerns and trying to make sure that we adjust those concerns in our plan,” Prince George’s County Public Schools Director of Special Education Trinell Bowman said.
The Prince George's County school system is hosting a series of online town halls for families focused on training and closing gaps discovered last spring in all areas including special education.
“We’re hoping to bridge that gap for parents, so that they’re not purchasing things out of pocket, that we’re, as a school, now able to provide that because we have a plan now,” Bowman said.
The system also will share how to access new support for specialty programs like dual enrollment and AP.
Kia McDaniel - Coordinating Supervisor Specialty Programs
“We’re doing professional development for all of our new and returning teachers on best practices and online instruction,” said Kia McDaniel, coordinating supervisor of specialty programs.
Long and Stanley said they're excited to learn about improvements made.
“We need to make sure that we are supporting everyone and creating an environment that is conducive for all to be successful,” Stanley said.
Wednesday evening's virtual town hall focuses on specialty classes like Montessori and language immersion. Thursday's will focus on special education.