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For the millions of people in this country, life is changing rapidly as the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread.

Like so many schools across the country, Oak Hill Schools are closed until at least the end of April, forcing students to stay home. In an instant, parents have become teachers, tasked with teaching their kids remotely. This task is a difficult one for any parent. But when you are a parent of a child or children with special needs, the bar is set even higher.

This ripple effect has caused dozens of parents of children with special needs to end up in uncharted territory. Breaking routine can cause a series of behavioral outbursts.

Even before the news of school closures broke, Oak Hill School feared that students might not be returning to their classrooms for a period of time. Staff predicted behavioral backlash from students, if they were going to be sent home due to a shift in their daily routine. They immediately stepped up and began providing distance learning opportunities for their students. Distance learning is different for each child, depending on their need. Some classrooms are teaching via live Facebook feeds. Others are providing virtual lessons.

Oak Hill School has also found ways to digitally provide crucial therapy for their students. Providing speech and occupational therapy to help with learning difficulties and attempt to ease behavioral outbursts. As well as daily contact with staff. Teachers, social workers, and administrative staff are making it part of their routine to check in on each student and parent to offer virtual help and stick to the student’s personalized routine as best they can.

Students with special needs are not the only ones struggling during these challenging times. Their parents are trying to figure out how to balance working full time from home with teaching and supervising their children 24/7. Which adds another complicated layer to the equation.

Many Oak Hill School families are beginning to run out of vital resources, as they are single parents with no coverage, and unable to bring their children with special needs to the store, due to their vulnerable health conditions.

Oak Hill School staff was able to collaborate with the Oak Hill Camps & Recreation program to use their commercial food source to start providing food to families who are unable to access it. Parents are contacting Oak Hill School social workers with lists of essentials, and the social workers can safely coordinate care packages of food to be delivered to their home. A true testament to program collaboration during this trying time.