HCS families with special needs students concerned about upcoming school year

Horry County parents concerned about reopening plans for students with special needs

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Horry County families are anxiously waiting on the finalized plan for what school will look like for their students in the fall, but for some families whose children have special needs, this sentiment is felt strongly.

Lindsay Turbeville, an Horry County Schools mom, has a young son who is on the autism spectrum, along with being diagnosed with ADHD. She said her son has had a one-on-one aide for several years and transitioning to an environment of virtual learning was difficult.

Robyn Kelly, who works with children with autism in Horry County, said is not an uncommon response. She said since the spring experience of going virtual, parents have expressed concern over how effective that could be in the long run.

“It’s causing a loss of routine for a lot of our kids,” Kelly explained, who is the director of Clinic Services for SOS Care. “It’s causing a lot more behavior problems and skill regression - is what I’m seeing in my kids - because they aren’t in a routine; they aren’t getting their typical educational services. They’re still getting ADA, so the parents are grateful for that because that’s still some sort of routine. But we can’t fill in the gap for school.”

According to a recent reopening draft released by Horry County Schools, several instructional models are being considered, based upon the county’s disease spread. They include methods of full-time face-to-face instruction, hybrid instruction, and full-time distance learning.

For children with special needs, the drafted plan says “specially designed instruction and related services will continue to be provided for all models of instruction, as specified in students’ IEPs and in consideration of those models/schedules determined necessary for students without disabilities.” The document goes on to say that “students receiving these services may need to be considered for additional face-to-face opportunities when social distancing measures will allow.”

For Turbeville, the hope is that classes can resume fully face-to-face for her son.

“Our hope is that Camden is there five days a week. We know that there are going to be changes and precautions, and we are all for that, but we believe that he should be there five days a week, and be there with his peers, and his teachers and his aides - we’ve just seen such improvement there,” she said.

Earlier this week, the CDC published a document expressing the importance of children returning to school, saying that, besides one’s own home, “no other setting has more influence on a child’s health and well-being.”

Turbeville said she’s heard different opinions from parents whose children have varying abilities, but the hope is that all preferences be taken into account.

“Every child is different - I’ve learned that with my son and his disabilities,” she said. “I think that parents should have the choice as to whether their child is in school 5 days a week, or maybe part-time, or maybe they’re home full-time. I think they should have the choice.”

Horry County Schools is set to submit their final plan to the Department of Education following the next Board of Education meeting, which will take place Aug. 3.

Copyright 2020 WMBF. All rights reserved.