That silent scream being heard across School District 43 today is from parents because of uncertainty about resources and plans for student instruction after spring break.
One local group that is helping to make a difference, however, is the non-profit Learning Disabilities Society, which is signing up parents whose children are learning disabled for one-to-one online support for a fee.
The non-profit has operated for 50 years in B.C. and currently has about 120 clients but that number is expected to grow as more parents whose children have learning disabilities sign on during COVID-19 pandemic.
“We hope it helps parents that, for an hour or two, a child can be working with one of our instructors and know their [child’s] education is advancing while taking some pressure off parents in providing the full picture of education,” said Rachel Forbes, LDS’s executive director.
Called RISE at Home (for Research Informed Individualized Student Education), it is taught by trained instructors who have experience in working with children with learning disabilities.
The program is only available for those students in kindergarten to Grade 12 who are suspected of having or have been diagnosed with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorders and others. It can help with numeracy and writing skills, among other things.
Fees can be up to $67 an hour but bursaries are available for qualifying families based on income.
Once accepted into the program, students will be connected via an interactive program with an instructor who will help them do exercises, worksheets and other work so they don’t lose ground on progress they’ve already made.
“It’s a very interactive platform that allows for the student to participate with instructor who can bring in other resources such as work sheets and videos.
Until now, RISE was available at a learning centre in North Vancouver and east Vancouver, as well as a few public schools in Vancouver, with programs running after school and Saturdays. Now, RISE Home will make the same program available online.
“Kids with learning disabilities, not necessary in all subjects but in some subjects, they’re not at grade level and any disruption in this situation puts them at risk of not following through on their learning,” Forbes said.
According to a provincial government FAQ about K-to-12 education during the pandemic, students in Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Port Moody, and elsewhere in B.C., with diverse learning needs will also get help via learning resource teachers and education assistants as classroom teachers roll out programs. In its FAQ, the Ministry of Education stated school-based teams will continue to work with students with diverse learning needs on their independent education plan goals.