DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — COVID-19 has affected many aspects of the community, and education is no different.

Last year, many schools took an online approach to learn to try and minimize the spread of COVID. For many students, online learning was an adjustment and made school more difficult.

But for students with special needs, the challenges they faced made learning more demanding.

“With our most severe students, those students require close interaction, so we had to come up with a way to interact with those students, but at the same time keep them safe,” Houston County Schools Director of Special Education, Dr. Misty Freeman said. “For our students who went virtual, we had to provide services on an individual level and make sure we close the learning gap for those students.”

Freeman says that face-to-face classroom instruction is the best learning method for most students with special needs, but the pandemic made that style of learning difficult.

“A lot of our students who are in special education they are our most immune-compromised students, and it’s not always the best situation for them to be in school with the pandemic,” Freeman said. “But we prefer for them to be at school. That’s the best situation for them.”

With the new school year in full swing, Houston County Schools is making sure to take the necessary precautions to ensure all their students with special needs remain safe.

“We do understand that some of our special education students can no tolerate a mask, so we try to meet the needs of the students and meet them where they are as far as safety,” Freeman said.