How is everyone today? I'm not sure how I am feeling, to be honest!
It is looking inevitable that schools will not be reopening for the remainder of January What remains to be decided is whether it will be an extension to the school holidays, or will parents and teachers be facing into home learning and remote teaching again.
Ideally, I would love to see schools remaining open for children with special needs. The extended school closures last year were incredibly challenging for all of us, but especially so for families of children with ASD or other additional needs. The routine and structure of school is so crucial for these children. However, I am unsure of how to do this in a way that will keep staff, children and their families safe at a time when case numbers are so frighteningly high.
An added challenge is how difficult it can be to social distance and follow safety guidelines in a special education setting. Some children will not tolerate adults around them wearing masks and visors. Others need intimate care and help with eating/toileting. Lots of them need lots of hugs, hands on help and deep pressure. Some will lick, chew and mouth objects around them. Some children will spit and smear. It's a minefield, and I wish I knew the right thing to do.
I think it would relieve a lot of pressure on families if the additional days were taken from the school holidays - cancel February midterm break, take one week holidays at Easter instead of two, and run schools into the start of July if needed. Having to work from home and help children with schoolwork is so challenging for families, especially if there is more than one child in the household and limited access to devices.
If remote teaching is what is asked of us, I know teachers and SNAs will rise to the challenge. We were all caught on the hop last time around, but now, we have all had a chance to upskill and reflect on ways to engage our children online.
I have been trying to keep busy the last few days... it's how I cope with anxiety and uncertainty! I have been working on a Padlet site to share resources, ideas and links to educational and sensory activities that might be suited to children with autism or other special educational needs to use at home. I will also be uploading free visuals, schedules and social stories. I will be updating it regularly, so if you come across a resource or a link that you think would be good, please tag me or send it to me so I can share it with everyone else!
Let's all try and help each other through the uncertain days ahead.