Making sure special needs students succeed in Green Bay area public schools

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – For special needs students within the Green Bay Area Public School District, learning during the coronavirus goes on, but through alternative means. Local 5 found out the district is doing what it can to keep students connected and involved.

In the Green Bay Area Public School District are 3,700 students enrolled have special needs. And Claudia Henrickson says teachers are determined to make sure they succeed in this time away from the classroom.

“It’s really trying to get them to understand that we still care about them, we’re still communicating with them, putting them on schedules, giving them structure,” said Henrickson, Executive Director for Special Education with the school district.

It has been just weeks since teachers developed alternative learning plans – after schools statewide were ordered shut because of COVID-19. And with no template on how to teach special needs students in the closure teachers have been forced to adapt.

“The teachers have been fantastic, the therapists have been fantastic, the number of people thinking outside the box is unreal,” Henrickson said.

Technology plays a huge role. Students are given devices to maintain contact with teachers and classmates, using programs like Google Classroom or Google Hangouts.

“Kind of looks like the Brady Bunch, so you can see each other and you can talk. Get a sense of normalcy. They get to talk to someone besides their mom, dad, brother and sister – and feel like they’re still part of a community.

Students are given packets with individual lessons that they go over with instructors.

“This is how we can modify it for you, this is what you need to do,” she said.

For the deaf there are sign language interpreters and closed captioning. For others talk-to-text software.

“Kids that do not write very well or type very well, they can speak into the computer, the computer will write and type for them,” Henrickson said.

Technology to keep all connected – helping students with special needs.

“We really are striving for equity across the district,” she said.

Henrickson says the learning plan is working because it is supported by parents.

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