REMOTE SCHOOLING AND DISABILITIES: PERCEPTION AND ROLE OF THE FAMILIES DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC EMERGENCY
About this paper:
Conference name: 14th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 4-6 July, 2022
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:The remote schooling solutions implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic have certainly guaranteed educational continuity for a large part of the school population. However, several difficulties have emerged, some of which as a direct consequence of a lack of deep and widespread knowledge of the distance education approaches amongst the school personnel, others related to existing difficulties in the school.
The management of remote schooling has been rather complex, especially for children with disabilities and their families. In fact, the interruption of daily routine has had a strong impact on both the physical and psychological spheres of these children, since regular school attendance usually instills in them a sense of safety which is essential for their emotional development (Khushboo, 2020; Toseeb et al. , 2020).
In relation to the inclusion of students with disabilities, the Italian educational context has a long and positive tradition. Official data indicate that almost all pupils with disabilities are included in the ordinary school system, thus following an "inclusive system" model.
Nevertheless, national surveys (TreeLLLe Association et al., 2011; Istat, 2019) and empirical studies (Giangreco et al. 2012; D’alessio, 2013; Vianello et al. 2013, 2012; Zanobini, 2013) before the pandemic had already highlighted a series of critical issues that tend to create diversified forms of “micro-exclusion” of students with disabilities. Ianes (2014), for example, highlighted the “push” and “pull-out” phenomenon, referring to those situations in which there is a tendency to initially “push” the pupils with disabilities into the classroom context, but to pull them out after a while.
A study was conducted during the first phase of the COVID-19 emergency (March-May 2020) and a questionnaire was designed to investigate the impact of remote schooling in the family context. It contains 58 questions, some of which are closed-ended, and others in a Likert form graded differently depending on the type of evaluation required. More than 19,000 families answered the survey for a total of 32,000 children. In this paper we present the results specific to the 725 responses of families with children with disabilities, in relation to the context outlined above.
The results highlight several critical issues. Parents complained primarily about their children's fatigue during the remote schooling activities, mainly due to the lack of daily contact with peers. In fact, data show that in almost 40% of cases the relationships with classmates worsened, even if 39% of the respondents affirmed that there were daily contacts for didactic purposes and 37% affirmed that some collaborative learning activities was organized during remote schooling.
Some parents also stated that, despite the efforts made by the school and the availability of devices and Internet connection, remote schooling did not meet their children's educational needs in a satisfying way, neither in terms of learning, nor in the aspects of autonomy and communication.
In addition, remote schooling required a significant daily involvement of parents: 72% of children requested parental assistance to carry out the didactic activities.
The analysis of data gathered during the study has pointed out some critical issues that were already known in the literature even before the pandemic, confirming the need for specific training paths for teachers to reduce micro and macro exclusion phenomena.
Keywords: IE-inclusion, Special needs, Family Involvement, Covid-19.