As Mass. Issues Fall Special Education Guidelines, Parents Describe Challenges

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Mona Roy's 19-year-old son, Aloke, has autism and lives in a residential program in Randolph, Massachusetts.

"We were separated, I think, for 130 days," said Roy. "He couldn't come home. He's really mostly non-verbal, he didn't fully understand."

She also has a 16-year-old son with special needs who attends Lexington High School.

She knows being in school would be the best for him to get the attention he needs, but she also worries about his health in a crowded environment.

"Every parent will say we want our child to be safe," said Roy. "On the other hand, if my choice is to keep him at home so that we're all safe, and he doesn't get the kind of education he deserves, then what am I doing to him as a parent?"

The challenges are exacerbated these days for parents with children who have disabilities.

State education officials released new guidelines Monday for school districts to follow in the fall for special ed students.

"As a mom, I find it really scary because right now, we have no answers," said Brendalisse Medina, whose son is on the autism spectrum and attends a school in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood.

The bottom line is that districts are being told to prioritize in-person learning for kids with special needs.

"It's been really rough because he thrives in structure," said Medina. "And he thrives in knowing exactly what's happening, so predictability is really big for him."

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