House Committees review distance learning

The Minnesota Senate adjourned early Saturday morning, but the state House of Representatives is still at work.

Yesterday, education committees reviewed some of the problems of distance learning children across the state were having during the last two months of the 2019-2020 school year.

Parents and students brought up issues such as a lack of access to technology and broadband internet, teachers not communicating with their students and special education students getting left behind.

Marva Lynn Shellenberger said her son is on the autism spectrum and, thanks to an individualized education program (IEP), his grades had been significantly improving prior to COVID-19.

“In distance learning, his IEP was abandoned and his teachers were not making alterations to his learning plan,” she said.

“Mario, my son, enjoys the interaction of others. Sitting at home for him was like solitary confinement. … He would have benefitted from having a tutor or aide available, a study hall for help outside group instruction.”

Parent Ambar Christina Hanson offered this suggestion.

“One suggestion is that younger children be able to be on-campus, then middle school and high school students have some hybrid, because they can do a better job of self-regulation. Those with an IEP and those affected by opportunity gaps and language learning would also be more on-campus.”

More remote hearings are expected to be held today and will include teachers, social workers and others. The state department of education is expected to release guidance for the next school year in late July.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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