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UTLA Pushes Back Against Opening Campuses For Students With Disabilities And English Learners, Citing Safety Concerns

 Hollywood High Teachers Assistant Yolanda Franco conducts class remotely on September 08, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Hollywood High Teachers Assistant Yolanda Franco conducts class remotely on September 08, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

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LAUSD didn’t kick off the school year in classrooms like they had hoped due to continuing health and safety concerns brought on by the coronavirus. Teachers, students and parents are trying to manage online instruction. But for some students with learning disabilities, online schooling has been a challenge. 

Many have argued that an online learning environment poses great difficulties for students with disabilities and their parents, who have transitioned to being more hands-on in their child’s learning experience. These students don’t have access to necessary and helpful resources online as they would in a traditional classroom setting. The LAUSD Board and parents were hoping they would be able to compromise and allow some school campuses to reopen for limited in-person classes and one-on-one services for students who are disabled or are learning English. But the United Teachers Union Los Angeles (UTLA) is pushing back against the idea, expressing concerns that the September 14th goal to reopen was too rushed. They say the planned reopening date was not enough time to ensure safety for teachers and students. UTLA acknowledges that in-person classes are a more beneficial learning experience, especially to those who struggle with learning disabilities. But given the health and safety circumstances of the coronavirus, a return to classrooms is not doable.

Today on AirTalk, we discuss the challenges students with disabilities are facing with online instruction, in-person classroom safety for teachers and students, and what can be done to more can be done to help those students with higher needs. Are you a parent of a child with a learning disability?  Are you a special education teacher? How have you converted to online teaching?What has helped you? Would you be in favor of small, in-person classes if the option presented itself? Are there resources you wish were more available to students with disabilities? Call us at 866-893-5722.


Gloria Martinez, a vice president for the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), the LAUSD teacher’s union; she has been a special education teacher for 19 years

Lisa Mosko, director of special education advocacy and educational rights for Speak UP, a parent advocacy organization; she also serves on the Community Advisory Committee for Special Education at LAUSD