Mom concerned about sending son with special needs back to school amid rising COVID-19 numbers

Special needs parent and doctor address concerns about schools reopening

LEESBURG, Ga. (WALB) - A mother who has a son with special needs spoke with WALB News 10 about her concerns about sending him back to school during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Andrew is 6-years-old and he has Down syndrome,” said mother Danielle Roberts.

Danielle is getting ready to send her son Andrew to kindergarten in the Lee County School System.

Andrew was a little shy during our interview Tuesday but is ready to get back to school in the fall.

She wonders if schools will be able to keep students and staff safe from COVID-19, especially her son, Andrew, who needs a little extra care in the classroom.

“Are the schools gonna be able to accommodate those? What provisions are being made for that?” asked Danielle.

Danielle believes school systems are putting plans in place but wonders if staff will follow through on them throughout the pandemic.

The Lee County School System wrote on its website that it has multiple safety measures in place to stop the spread of the virus.

“The situation with COVID 19 and the decisions that schools need to consider continue to evolve. The safety and health of students, staff and community are and will continue to be the priority as we look to the start of a new school year,” the website states.

The school system said it is working closely with public health officials.

The Lee County School System plans to open up on Aug. 7 and is offering two options for students, according to its website.

Students can start the school year virtually or in person.

Dr. Charles Ruis, the Georgia Department of Health Southwest Health District director, has concerns about schools opening back up.

“The teachers aren’t all quite so young and some of the teachers and other staff members have chronic illnesses and that’s concerning,” said Ruis.

Ruis said he is concerned for students but believes they will be much less vulnerable to severe illnesses and bad outcomes compared to the general population. He said their typically healthy immune systems will help combat the virus.

Dr. Ruis believes state and local education leaders are making effective plans to keep COVID-19 out of schools.

Which helps give peace of mind to moms like Danielle.

Towards the end of the interview, Andrew warmed up to WALB News 10′s Bobby Poitevint.

“Can you look at him (Poitevint) and tell him bye?” Danielle asked Andrew.

Andrew with a waving arm said, “bye” as he looked just past the camera.

“Bye, that will work,” laughed Danielle

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