Poway Unified School District

Checking in With Special-Needs Students Who Are Back on Campus

Some special needs students at Mesa Verde Middle School in the Poway Unified School District returned for in-person learning last week


Some school districts in San Diego County are giving students with special needs the first opportunity to come back on campus in small numbers for in-person learning.  

"It’s going great," said Lauren Felker, who teaches 7th- and 8th-grade special-needs students at Mesa Verde Middle School in the Poway Unified School District. “My aides and I are happy to have them back, and students were so excited to be back with each other, to be with all of us…. We’re sort of like a family.”

There are 10 students in Felker’s critical-skills class, some with autism, some with Down syndrome, and some who have intellectual disabilities. They need one-to-one support or two-to-one support, hands-on learning and direct instructions with a specific curriculum, Felker said. Learning virtually was a struggle.

"Being at home and doing this virtually is really, really difficult," Felker said. "They need either a parent sitting there just to get them logged onto the computer [or] a parent who really has to sit with them all day to facilitate learning.”

At Mesa Verde, there are partitions on the desks that are 6feet apart, and specific times set for hand sanitizing. and students and teachers wear masks. 

Felker said the students know what is at stake. 

“They’re totally on board, they understand,” Felker said. "They all wanted to be here. We basically were counting down when they could be together again. So, they are all thrilled to be here, they’re willing at this point to do anything safety-wise so we can all stay together."

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