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Portland mom says return to in-person learning should have been sooner for son with special needs

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    PORTLAND, Oregon (KPTV) — Many Portland Public Schools’ students have been returning to in-person learning for the first time this week, but some parents feel it’s a little too late and can’t make up for the time lost by remote learning.

Sonia Landi’s son thrives on consistency.

“My son is on the autism spectrum,” said Landi. “He has developmental delays, speech delays, and a learning disability.”

“So yeah, a mix of everything basically,” she continued.

Landi said when school abruptly closed last March, it wasn’t easy on him.

“First of all, this change happened too quickly for him to digest,” said Landi. “But basically, he was always disappointed because he thought he was the only one who was kept home.”

Like most other PPS students, the now fifth grader, has been learning online since the beginning of this school year. For that entire time, his mom said he hasn’t interacted with anyone in his virtual classroom.

“It’s just a total refusal,” she said.

Landi said she’s spent the school year trying to figure out how to get him back inside the classroom earlier.

“In my opinion, prioritize children with disabilities who are not doing well with online education,” she said.

She said that wasn’t able to happen and now he’ll be heading back to school when all fifth graders return to PPS on April 5.

“It would make sense that he would be allowed earlier, because it would be a more quiet environment than bringing him back to school when all kids are going back to school, because this I already know will paralyze him and will scare him, because he’s not social anymore,” said Landi.

She’s thankful he’s going back though and that it’s right around the corner.

“I have a lot of sympathy for these children, because they have been working hard,” said Landi. “I see that with my son.”

“He tries to learn, even though it’s not the right condition and yeah, I’m very concerned about their future, because he lost one year of his education,” continued Landi.

FOX 12 did reach out to PPS. A spokesperson wrote, “Since Limited In Person Instruction (LIPI) was solely based on volunteer staff, we had a small amount of students able to participate. Participation was based on attendance and engagement for most of the LIPI supports. LIPI did not replace core instruction or any special education services that continued virtually this year. No student received less services if they were not served in LIPI. All students continued to receive all of their core instruction and IEP services virtually during the LIPI time period. Now that hybrid is happening, we are very excited to open our schools to all students, including students with special needs. They will receive all core instruction, support and services as determined in their Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), either in a hybrid setting or will continue virtually, based on parent choice.”

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