PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Bouncing back and forth from virtual to 'in-person' learning can be extremely stressful, especially for children with special needs. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is a former speech pathologist who knows first hand the challenges these students face during the current health pandemic.

"Some services like speech therapy are a little more easily delivered on-line. Whereas, when you think about physical therapy or occupational therapy, it's a lot harder to do over a computer screen," said Hoffman.

Hoffman spoke to state lawmakers Tuesday about the need for more special education funding.

She said as more students return to the classroom, schools need more resources and on-site services. Right now, two special education bills are being considered at the state legislature. One would put $5 million in the state's Extraordinary Special Education Needs Fund. The other would pump more than $20-million into Pre-K programs.

"We know that having early education, early literacy, language helps with early identification," said Hoffman. "If any young children are presenting delays, we want to make sure educators and families catch that early so we can provide support early on."

Arizona's Family also asked Superintendent Hoffman if she's okay with so many schools going back to in-person learning, even though Arizona's COVID-19 numbers are still high. She said that every school is different, but she believes kids can safely return to the classroom if precautions remain in place.

Teacher cleaning a desk

"We need to continue with mask mandate," said Hoffman. "There's going to continue to be social distancing at schools. It's still going to look like education, teaching, and learning in a pandemic."

Hoffman also said that Arizona schools will be safer as the number of teachers being vaccinated continues to grow.

Jason Barry is best known for his Dirty Dining Report which airs Fridays at 6:30 p.m. on CBS 5.  He is also the storyteller behind CBS 5's Pay It Forward which airs every Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
 
 

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