During the district closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers, therapists and staff in the Socorro Independent School District Special Education department have adjusted their services to provide teletherapy for their students throughout the sprawling district.
District officials share that all members of the department have been going “above and beyond” to ensure students are receiving therapy, support and services they need to be successful with instruction and in daily life.
“Even though we are shut down it is not going to stop us from providing as many of the services as we can to our students,” said SISD Special Education Director Richard Ortega. “We want to make sure the students get to take advantage of the services as much as possible, along with their regular instruction.”
While students have been participating in the Remote Learning Academy, services such as speech therapy, music therapy and physical therapy also have been available.
“As a district we want to make sure students are not only keeping up with their academics, but also with their related services,” Ortega said. “We do not want our students to digress.”
Even though it has been a new challenge for families, parents have been extremely helpful in guiding their children through teletherapy sessions at home, Ortega said.
“There are times that the transition has been difficult due to struggles with the technology involved,” said Ronald Baker, father of a second-grade student at Sgt. Jose F. Carrasco Elementary. “But my son’s teacher has been very helpful in assisting us in overcoming the obstacles and I think we are on a fairly productive track at the moment.”
Baker, whose son receives speech therapy twice a week and music therapy once a week, said the learning models available in Team SISD have been appropriate and helpful.
“It is extremely important to us that he doesn’t languish or regress, and so to have these lessons available means a lot,” Baker said.
Employees in the special education department are working hard to adapt to the new form of teaching and learning and are striving to alleviate the workload parents have suddenly inherited at home.
“We are trying not to bombard our parents because we know it is a stressful time, but we have been pushing out as many resources as possible and our parents have been so receptive,” said speech language pathologist Amanda Paredez. “We know they can be a bit overwhelmed, but we are offering our support to all of them as best we can.”
The SISD educators have been working one on one with students from home via teleconferencing apps and are keeping in touch with parents via email, phone calls, texts, and other apps such as Remind and ClassDojo.
Through consistent communication, teachers and therapists have been able to continue interaction with students and engage them to maintain objectives and reach goals.
Paredez said despite the challenge of not being able to be with students in person, the special education department has developed creative ways to better engage with students via teletherapy and continue the best possible experiences for students. In addition, the proactive outreach and consistent communication have been helpful and beneficial for students, parents and educators.
“For me it’s been a learning experience and is something that I think we can walk away from feeling successful,” Paredez said. “I love being able to see my students and working closer with the parents has been rewarding.”