How has Covid Impacted Special Education Students

There are currently 11 special education students going in-person to Robinson Tuesdays through Fridays. “The kinds of students that are currently back in school, not all of them can communicate their feelings and needs, and the joy that you could see when they walked in the door and saw their teachers that they hadn’t been able to see was like something I can’t even describe,” said Jen Krempasky, special education department supervisor. “All I could see was basically this reunion that happened six feet apart in a safe way but everyone was just so happy.”


Through a program called Partnership, Robinson students have a class with special-ed kids to help build their social skills. “I know that it’s hard for a lot of them because what they get out of school is that social interaction, and they’re lacking that. It can be really challenging and frustrating for them,” said Georgia Sherman. She also stressed the importance of having classmates and teachers turn on their cameras so the students could see who they were talking to. 


The start of the shutdown came as a shock. Jenna Potoker, a Partnership member said, “During the beginning of the shutdown, it was difficult for everyone and we handled it the only way we could, by trying to understand the new normal. It was very confusing and scary for everyone.” She also explained the difficulties for the students with the shift to virtual classrooms. “There was a hard time with technical difficulties and understanding the new learning platform.”


During quarantine, special education students had to adapt to a virtual learning environment. “There’s a lot of benefits to a virtual environment whereas there’s also a lot of areas for growth,” said Krempasky. “You can’t have the same level of interaction or that interaction looks different. We never want to allow this pandemic to in any way impact students receiving their special education services.”


In an interview with Tufts Now, Leandra Elion, an expert in human study development, said parents are having to take a bigger role in their students’ education. “It’s another hat for parents to wear. They have become the school, the teachers, the lunch monitors, the school nurse, the recess monitor, and now they’re also becoming the researcher as they try out different routines,” said Elion. 


During the online school period for special ed students, teachers also reported getting to know the families of the students better. “I think what it has led to is increased engagement and collaboration between families and teachers because the parents are right there helping their students’ login and so when you often would only connect with family on back to school night the teachers are now seeing the families on a regular basis,” said Krempasky. 



Nelson, Angela. “How COVID-19 Has Affected Special Education Students.” Tufts Now, 29 Sept. 2020, 


Jargon, Julie. “How a Boy With Autism’s World Turned Upside Down When Pandemic Shut School.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 3 Nov. 2020,