Schools making changes to protect health of children with intellectual disabilities

Pittsburgh, Pa. — When children return to school this fall, some students, including students who have intellectual disabilities, will notice major changes in their classrooms.

“Routine and structure is at the top of our priority when we develop our educational programs. Our students thrive from that,” said Billi Jo Huffman, who is the chief school administrator at The Day School at The Children’s Institute.

You can customize your WPXI News App to receive Allegheny County news alerts. CLICK HERE to find out how.

According to Huffman, the pandemic has been difficult for children who have special needs.

At Huffman’s school, families have two options for their students to enroll in this year: a virtual program or a hybrid model.

Huffman explained to Channel 11 what students and parents can expect if they choose to participate in the hybrid program.

“The desks are more widely spread out throughout the course of the classroom. The students have the individual materials on their desk, ready for them when they are in here,” said Huffman.

But the protections don’t stop at social distancing. Teachers will have plexiglass to place on desks, which is very important to protect students who have difficulty wearing face masks.

“The teacher would be on the side and they would still be able to have some close proximity with the instructor, but sill have that boundary between the two of them,” said Huffman.

The school has also ordered clear shower curtains to divide classrooms, as well as clear masks to make it easier for students to see the facial expressions of their teachers and classmates.

“Our students are so very unique and so vastly different from each other that it’s going to be a case by case basis,” said Huffman.