CPS remote learning proves challenging for parents, children with special needs

"I don't believe my child is getting anything out of this."

Sarah Schulte Image
Friday, September 18, 2020
Remote learning proves challenging for parents, students with special needs
A Chicago Public Schools family is speaking out about how they are trying to navigate remote learning for their child with special needs.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public School students are out of classrooms for now, and while we've heard of a lot of challenges with remote learning, not all of those challenges are the same.

One family is now speaking out about how they are trying to navigate a return to learning for their child with special needs.

Through an iPad, Antwuan Staton's teacher speaks to him in class. While the 13-year-old may look comfortable, learning from a screen has been extremely challenging for him and his parents.

RELATED: CPS parents frustrated with remote learning 1 week into year, schools work to track down absent students

"I feel like I'm an overworked non-paid CPS employee at this point."

Antwuan has cerebral palsy. He is non-verbal and has many physical limitations.

"Trying to keep a diverse learner still for those hours, we do get breaks, but this is almost impossible to keep his attention," said Antwuan's mother Tameeka Chalmers.

Chalmers said a parent must be with Antwuan the entire school day.

She said his remote activities have included a typing class and a scavenger hunt, which are two things the Jane Neil Elementary 8th grader is not physically capable of doing.

RELATED: CPS 1st day attendance rates down 10% 1st day of remote learning compared to last year

"I type. I do what they say. I went through the house to find different items, I try to be the student," Chalmers said.

But Antwuan's parents say they are beyond frustrated.

"As frustrating as it is, we know we have to do what we have to do as parents as we fight through this," they said.

The family has voiced their concerns to the school's principal but said the principal says there is not much she can do. Chalmers also said no one from CPS headquarters would return her calls.

She blames the District and the Chicago Teachers Union for not coming up with a better plan for diverse learners, like her son.

RELATED: Chicago Public School students, teachers return to virtual learning

Brenda Delgado Als had to reorganize her home to and make sure her three children were connected for online-learning on the first day of school.

Chalmers said her son needs in school learning.

"With the small amount of diverse learners in each class, I believe it can be done in a safe way," Chalmers said.

But the Chicago Teachers Union is not ready to return.

"We want to make sure that buildings we enter and classrooms that we are in with the students are going to safe for everybody," said CTU organizer Jim Cavallero.

RELATED: Chicago Public Schools launches new website to help parents prepare for 1st day of school

With a video that worked intermittently in science class and a teacher who dismissed school at noon, Chalmers said she is doubtful this way of learning can go on much longer.

"I'm going to do it as long as I can, but I don't believe my child is getting anything out of this," Chalmers said.