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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – A Huntsville mother has been carrying the burden of unemployment and educating her two boys during this pandemic.

Her youngest son is on the autism spectrum. For him, virtual learning comes with challenges. For Sharita Humphrey, it’s breeding frustration to be a teacher without any instructional background to educate a special needs child.

It’s a struggle

Without teacher aides working with her son in person, remote learning has become a frustrating experience for Humphrey to handle at home alone.

“It’s been really, really hard trying to do the online learning because it’s a whole lot for him,” Humphrey said. “He doesn’t understand how to type in different things on the computer.”

Her son has missed 12 assignments since Tuesday.

“The tools that they have at the school, I don’t have here,” Humphrey said.

Everyone’s trying to cope

Humphrey said she has been in contact with Huntsville City Schools about her struggles, but the district is also trying to cope with changes during this pandemic.

In a statement, Huntsville City Schools Spokesperson Craig Williams said the district is continuing to provide specialized learning programs and accommodations for families.

HCS will continue to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the best of the district’s ability during periods of school closure that result in a transition from traditional to blended learning. Specialized instruction will continue to be provided as well as accommodations and related services through alternate methods to address students with specialized learning plans, including Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans.”

Huntsville City Schools Spokesperson Craig Williams

Adapting to change

“I need an aide to come and help me. Somebody that’s been with him for a while,” said Humphrey.

The school is helping students via email, video chat and over the phone, but for Humphrey, the school closure — on top of not getting a paycheck in five weeks — has been stressful.

“They kept asking me how I was dealing with it,” Humphrey said. “Yeah, I’m frustrated. Not only with this, but not receiving unemployment, trying to figure out how I’m going to pay my bills.”

Working through it

As far as those missed assignments, administrators say they’ll continue working with students to complete course work. Grades won’t be negatively impacted during this crisis.

Parents with questions regarding special education should contact the Department of Special Education Services through Huntsville City Schools.