MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Parents of students with special needs are doing what they can to prepare for the upcoming school year.

Amanda Garcia is frustrated and concerned with the uncertainty. Her daughter, Macy, is in elementary school in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district. Macy is non-verbal, non-mobile and on a feeding tube.

She loves school, which for her is about speech therapy, physical therapy, and the one-on-one attention she receives.

“[The district doesn’t] offer any hope for offering the services my daughter needs specifically,” Amanda Garcia said.

School also gives Macy human contact outside of her immediate family.

“She thrives on that touch, that feel, so you touch her hand or arm, let her know you’re there,” Amanda Garcia said. “She can see, but she reacts with that physical touch.”

She fears what Macy will lose in a masked or partitioned classroom, let alone distance learning.

Marcia Blakeman, also in the district, feels the same.

“My kids just don’t learn sitting in front of an iPad,” Blakeman said.

Her sons, Jack and Wesley, are on individualized education programs for anxiety and emotional and behavioral accommodations.

“My kids do require structure,” Blakeman said. “My kids do require having someone next to them who can guide them through each class.”

Garcia and Blakeman are both waiting for answers on how the school year is going to work.

“It’s not a matter of being angry with them,” Blakeman said. “It’s frustrating because of the unknown.”

Janet Fimmen, the district’s director of special education, sent parents a letter that said, in part, “We continue to refine our plan for special education students across the continuum of services … The information gathered during focus groups, as well as ongoing shared ideas and concerns, assist us in developing these plans.”

She promised more details by August 10.

Garcia says she’ll unenroll Macy if the school can’t provide the services and close contact that Macy needs.

“We will figure out what homeschooling looks like,” Garcia said. “I don’t know what that will look like. I really don’t know what that’s going to look like for her.”

The Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan school district has announced it will use a hybrid model where students divided into two groups will each go into school twice a week.

David Schuman

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