Lincoln mom continues remote learning for son with special needs

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 7:37 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Lincoln Public Schools students head back for in-person learning Wednesday, but other students will begin remote learning Monday.

One of those students who won't be returning back to the classroom is Zach Coatney.

Coatney is in seventh grade at Pound Middle School. Since March, his mom, Becky Coatney, has served as his teacher at home, and she tells 10/11 this school year won’t be any different.

Zach is on the autism spectrum, and for him, dealing with change isn’t the easiest.

When deciding to do remote learning or not, Becky had to make sure he received consistency on a day-to-day basis. Since LPS uses Lincoln’s COVID-19 Risk Dial to determine how teaching will be done this year, the safest thing this family felt to do was to keep Zach at home.

"It's just really tough for him to maneuver through the school, sometimes, from class to class. Typically, he works from one classroom anyway," Coatney tells 10/11.

Because of his special needs, while in school, Zach doesn’t switch from class to class. He stays in one room, with one teacher working side-by-side with him. “So, that’s kind of similar to what we’re going to be able to do here at the house, and he’ll just have his one classroom,” says Coatney.

Another factor in Coatney’s decision is bus routes and how they’ll change this year. She says longer routes or if more kids are put on a route could pose challenges for her son.

When remote learning first started in March, Coatney says they had some challenges but feel more prepared heading into this semester.

Coatney tells 10/11 heading into this school year being more organized will make remote learning for Zach, and herself teaching him, much easier.

Coatney says she's grateful LPS gives families the option to continue with remote learning. She tells us the LPS webinars for at-home learning and having staff help with the adjustments have also been helpful.

As of now, Coatney is unsure if she’ll send Zach back to school for in-person learning later this year.

“If he’s really suffering grade-wise or for some reason, it’s just not working and we haven’t been able to work with the teams at LPS to get what we need done, maybe we’ll have to rethink that,” says Coatney, but adds that if his grades stay up during the first quarter, she may consider letting him return to the classroom.

After speaking directly with Zach, he tells 10/11 he misses his teachers and friends the most, but understands his mom’s decision and knows it’s to help keep him safe.

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