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Leon County Schools Announce Distance Learning Plans For Students With Disabilities

Charlien Gracia

Leon County Schools are working to continue special services and accommodations for students with disabilities during distance learning. The district plans to deliver these services through online videos, phone calls, and more.

Exceptional Student Education (ESE) will continue as Leon County Schools switch to distance learning. Teachers will touch base with ESE students and their parents starting Monday. The district's ESE director Cathy Shields says therapists will not go to student's homes to provide services.

"Our best option is that we have these groups of people teeming right now sharing videos, creating videos for their students individually. They're creating videos for each other to be able to share certain exercises," Shields says.

Meetings regarding individual education plans can be done over the phone or through online video conferences. The district will use Microsoft Teams to conduct the video conferences. Plans are underway for a tutorial to roll out for parents on how to use the platform. If a parent wants to get a hold of their child's individual education plan (IEP) it can be given to them through encrypted email and mail. They can also pick it up at the school. Assistant Superintendent Alan Cox notes that ESE students should expect multiple calls as schools work through the details:

"In these times, there's nothing that works better than communication. Especially if you get person to person and we're very committed to that," Cox says.

Teachers will continue offering accommodations, like extended time, to ESE students. Other services, including speech, behavioral, and physical therapy, can be conducted online and over the phone. The deadline for teachers to contact ESE students ends next Wednesday.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.