Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Assemblyman Simcha Eichenstein, State Senator Simcha Felder, and Councilman Kalman Yeger joined together to pen a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza last week, demanding action for special education students and providers.
In the letter, they discuss the urgency of providing accommodations for special education students to receive one-on-one services in a safe manner. The letter states: "Distance learning had a severely detrimental effect on all students, but for those who require one-on-one direct services, it has been devastating. As many schools opt to offer a partial or fully virtual learning experience in the upcoming school year, it is critical that the Department of Education permits and provides for one-on-one, in person services at home through contract agencies, Related Service Authorizations (RSAs) and SETSS authorizations (P4) for services including para professionals, special education teachers and related service providers."
Indeed, parents have reported significant setbacks in their children's development, as young students struggled to adapt to remote learning without the individualized attention that typically helps them focus and thrive at school.
The letter from Deutsch, Eichenstein, Felder, and Yeger also highlighted the plight of special education providers, who haven't been paid for billed hours in six months, since the start of the pandemic. (Delays in payments to providers has been an ongoing issue for many years, but the pandemic has exacerbated the situation.) Many of these providers worked with their students virtually during that period, to offer some sense of normalcy for children during a difficult time. "It is unfair and unrealistic to expect people to work for free, particularly at a time when COVID has left many New Yorkers struggling financially. Ultimately, the children will be most profoundly affected if their providers are unable to continue to work."