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Teaching in a pandemic, what comes next?

Decision on county by county classifications expected Friday.
Teaching in a pandemic
Teaching in a pandemic(WABI)
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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BREWER, Maine (WABI) - The preparations for going back to school are well underway across the state. State officials continue to focus on striking the balance between safety and delivering an effective education..

What about teachers who work with students with specialized needs? TV5 recently sat down with one.

“All the kids that I work with are deaf or hard of hearing and they have speech and language needs,” said Brittany Bubar, who is a speech pathologist.

She works with about ten kids across different Maine counties. Last year, just as for everyone else, those lessons started coming from home and over a computer.

“Imagine trying to read lips with a mask on it’s pretty much impossible,” said Bubar. “There are special masks with clear windows that kids who are reading lips can see lips. When your voice is being heard through a computer you can hear the perception of what you’re hearing or sound. It’s crucial to have another person sitting on the other end which is typically a parent or another caregiver . To help with, was that the sound target that we’re looking for. Then hearing me, it can be perceived a little differently and me hearing them is also perceived differently. It’s pretty tough.”

Bubar says she would prefer to be back face to face with students, but safety is paramount. She worries about what extended time out of classrooms will mean for kids.

“It’s not impossible to deliver services virtually,” she explained. “Obviously we are doing it. Some kids are maintaining progress. I am seeing a little bit of regression but that’s due to a lot of different factors.”

As she mentioned, the students she works with typically have a parent or caregiver assisting them during the lesson. A one-on-one that lasts 30 minutes, twice a week.

Not every family has that person.

“The whole issue is not the parents who are involved and are doing the classroom works with their kids. It’s the parents who are not putting the effort in,” she said. “It’s not necessarily that they aren’t putting the effort in, it is that they have other things going on. They have a full-time job. And they have a house to run. It’s a lot. I’m working part time and my husband for works full-time. Our little boy is supposed to go to preschool in the fall l... i’m not so sure I want his first experience to be like this so it is something we need to consider.”

The Maine Department of Education is slated to share it's county by county color designation's this Friday.

That’ll guide schools about whether to pursue in-class instruction or remote learning.

Hopefully, it will give families like the Bubars more information about what heading back to class will look like.

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