Special Education in a Post-Pandemic Era
By Guest Author, May 1, 2021
There are new ways to support and retain related services providers with remote solutions—and help them serve your students continuously.
Many school districts were abruptly pulled into remote learning during the nationwide school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Districts providing services to students with special needs found themselves especially unprepared. During this challenging time, PresenceLearning has had the opportunity to work with many districts, large and small, supporting administrators and SPED directors with access to our network of 1,600+ service providers, training their own staff to provide remote services through our Teletherapy Essentials program, and providing access to the PresenceLearning award-winning platform, designed by clinicians for clinicians specifically to serve K-12 students with special needs. School administrators and special education directors have reported back to us several benefits to remote solutions including solving critical personnel shortages, employee retention, enhanced productivity,https://www.pwc.com/us/en/library/covid-19/us-remote-work-survey.html increased therapy time, and student engagement. And we’ve heard from the service providers as well.
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I had been a clinical director for a nonprofit in California for my previous job. I did a lot of training online with school staff around the areas of inclusive education. And I realized the impact I could have working remotely—I could see more people, there’s less commuting, there are myriad reasons. I found PresenceLearning and began to speak with them, and I spoke to a number of other therapists. As someone who lived in California and dealt with traffic, I was really ready to have a job where I didn’t have to get in a car. That was my initial impetus—I just didn’t want to commute anymore.
Create Flexibility to Work From Home
An October 2020 Gallup poll found that about two-thirds of people working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic want to continue to work remotely. With the world waking up to the benefits of remote work, schools need to embrace innovative staffing solutions to ensure that their most talented clinicians and other staff members remain engaged in working with the students who need them most. Personnel shortageshttps://specialedshortages.org/about-the-shortage/ have long plagued special education programs in schools. Innovative schools are already adjusting their mindset to institutenew, remote employment opportunities for their existing staff, and to attract more talent to help fill open positions. With a teletherapy platform, district providers and other members of the school team can serve students from any location—and schools can retain beloved and knowledgeable team members who have moved away or now prefer working remotely. Reports show that the payoffs of flexible remote options in the workforce broadly include satisfaction and enhanced productivity among employees.
One special education leader commented that their teletherapy platform “took a lot of concern off the table, in not having to worry about the human resources side of things. In terms of retention, it also gives our service providers and teachers another option—in serving their students online,” said Melvin Diggs, executive director of Chatham County Schools’ Exceptional Children (EC) and Academically or Intellectually Gifted (AIG) programs for the past two years.
A PresenceLearning school psychologist reports, “The students enjoy the interaction via teletherapy as they are so adept with technology. I am also able to easily work with multiple students in one day since there is no commute time in between school locations. The PL platform lets me maximize my time for the benefit of more students.
Increase Time With Students
Administrators are seeing another benefit of a teletherapy solution—with the teletherapy solution eliminating travel time, service providers who can now serve multiple schools without wasting valuable time on commutes. Mike Lowers, M.S., executive director at Central Kansas Cooperative in Education, has found that he has been able to re-allocate his cooperative’s travel budget to support enhancing his teletherapy program. Watch Integrating Teletherapy Into Your Service Delivery Model to learn more about Mike’s approach to providing services remotely.
And because related service providers working remotely spend less time in the car commuting between schools, they have more quality time to spend with students in therapy. In addition to the student benefits, this maximizes service providers’ productivity and overall job satisfaction. It’s no wonder that many of them wish to continue to work remotely, at least part of the time, post-pandemic
Prepare for the future
Special education therapy services can be—and already are—delivered remotely. The schools that embrace this approach are likely to be the ones that win the battle for employee retention. Get ahead of the curve now, and get your school prepared for the future that awaits!
Request a consultation to learn how PresenceLearning can help you retain your employees in a remote work environment.