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NPR News

COMIC: How A Teacher Tackled Pandemic Fears For His Students With Disabilities

It's been a year since teachers were handed an unprecedented request: educate students in entirely new ways amid the backdrop of a pandemic. In this comic series, we'll illustrate one educator's story each week from now until the end of the school year.

Episode 8

Daven Oglesby, a special education teacher for kindergartners to fourth-graders in Nashville, Tenn., explains what a typical day in the pandemic is like for his atypical classroom.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

"Some of my students may have autism or Down syndrome or intellectual disabilities. What looks like small progress to others — getting a kid to tie their own shoes, for instance — is a big deal."
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"We were remote from March through September, then in person until November, then back to virtual until February. And for my students, transitions are tough."
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"Many can't wear a mask to school due to autism, a sensory-processing issue or sensitivity to something touching their face. So I was concerned for my students to come back into the classroom, even though virtual learning wasn't really happening. I was concerned for their safety, and I still am."
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"Many of my kiddos are nonverbal, so how do they communicate whether they want to go to school or not? I'm not sure if they know what a pandemic is, why we were out of school or what wearing a mask means."
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"The toughest part has been how to adjust their schedules and lessons to where they're still getting an appropriate education during the pandemic, but also staying relaxed and calm. So my goal is to make their days as easy as possible, so they can focus on gaining functional life skills."
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"I want to make sure they're getting the skills, the care, the love they need, first. Then I can teach them what they need to know to function in a classroom."
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" ... and, ultimately, not need me."
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