HWDSB Family Thanks Staff Members for Supporting Students with Special Education Needs
As many students prepare to return to physical school buildings, it is important to shed light on the HWDSB students and staff that never left.
During this remote learning period, some students with pervasive special education needs or those engaged in treatment programs have continued with in-person learning. They have been accompanied by a team of dedicated staff members that have gone to great lengths to support their students.
One of those students is Sofia of Rousseau Elementary School. She has cerebral palsy and global developmental delay, which makes learning at home a difficult task.
When Sofia’s family learned of Ontario’s decision to move to remote learning, there was initially a bit of anxiety. Her mother, Patricia, has employed various strategies to prepare Sofia for online learning, but had no luck.
“Sofia couldn’t be in front of an iPad,” Patricia explained. “She can’t understand what the teacher would be asking. She would constantly grab at the iPad and start screaming and having outbursts.”
With both parents working and her grandmother already watching her two siblings, it became apparent that Sofia’s needs could not be properly met outside of a school setting. Thankfully for the family, plans were made to allow the young student to attend school through one of the self-contained classes that remained operational through the remote learning period.
Sofia has been attending Tiffany Hills Elementary School, where a team of staff is able to support her and many other students who are unable to learn from home.
Patricia noted that her daughter “thrives on routine”, making the experience at a new school a potential challenge. The unfamiliar faces and setting could have been difficult for Sofia to face, but her family saw a completely different result.
“It’s been amazing,” said Patricia. “Sofia absolutely loves it.”
Patricia was quick to note that an Educational Assistant who has previously worked with Sofia is currently working at Tiffany Hills. This established relationship helped Sofia feel at ease during the transition into a new environment.
“It has made a world of difference because Sofia has that comfort level,” Patricia told us. “Even with the mask and all the protective coverings, she saw her and Sofia’s entire body started vibrating in my arms. She was so excited.”
When asked if she has a message to the HWDSB staff members who continue to support our students in special education programs, Patricia kept it simple.
“For everyone who worked to open up these programs, my entire family says thank you,” she said with gratitude. “What it was doing to us at home was unbelievable. It affects the kids, so home life wasn’t great. It’s calmed down the entire house.”
HWDSB would also like to extend an enormous thank you to the countless staff members for the positive impact they have had on our families. Even though many school buildings were empty over the last few weeks, in-person learning was able to continue thanks to all of you. Students like Sofia are lucky to have such a dedicated support system that looks out for their best interests.