(WGGB/WSHM) -- Many parents are calling our School Authority hotline, worried about their children with special needs not getting enough resources to succeed this school year.
"Hi, my name is Teresa. I have a grandson that is special ed. He has autism and a learning problem and that’s not where it ends. The parents both have learning disabilities, so for these parents like this, that have children with special needs, I think that this is crazy that they are not putting these children in school the whole time," said a frustrated grandmother in Chicopee.
She reached out to our hotline concerned her grandson, who goes to Bowe Elementary School, is falling behind with remote learning.
"The kids need an outlet and that’s the school. It’s bad enough they got out earlier last year due to the pandemic. Now, this is more chaos," the grandmother continued.
Western Mass News spoke with Chicopee Public Schools Director of Special Education Andrea Stolar.
“Right now, we are in the process of making sure we have connected with everyone and if parents are struggling, please reach out to us," Stolar explained.
The district’s website also has resources for parents to help with remote learning.
Stolar told Western Mass News that students are returning to the classroom in a phased approach.
“We have our next phase coming in on October 5 - our Pre-K students, our kindergarten students, grade 6 and grade 9, so all those transitioning year students coming in,” Stolar noted.
The same concerns are being voiced from parents in Springfield.
“Their health and well-being is as important to us as any other student in the district and so we would not consider bringing special education students back into the classroom if we didn’t feel like it was a safe place for all of our students,” said Springfield Public Schools spokesperson Azell Cavaan.
The district is working to provide more resources for parents and caregivers, including special training sessions.
However, one Springfield parent, who wished to remain anonymous, said her daughter is struggling at home.
"They can't expect the non-verbal child to sit there for eight hours and give it it’s all...I don't see my daughter benefiting from this homeschool learning,” that parent explained.
Cavaan said parents should talk with their child's teacher if they have questions.
“Any concerns you have, any resources you feel like you still need, talk about that with your student’s teacher and they are liaisons to the district and to the special education directorial department to make those needs get met,” Cavaan noted.
Western Mass News also spoke with Westfield Public School Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski to see how the school year is going as some of their special ed students returned to the classroom this week.
“In some cases, it is certainly more difficult for those students to learn on a remote environment. They need the personal interaction, so bringing them back sooner is better…We know that they learn differently and they learn better in an in-person environment,” Czaporowski said.