Meghan Connolly Haupt
SARATOGA SPRINGS – On June 5, I cried happy tears hearing Governor Cuomo issue the Executive Order that school districts could offer in-person summer programs for special needs students. The pandemic has been challenging for everyone, but these kids really need the support and so do their families. Options for special needs kids to have peer interaction are few, and the stress on families is often unbearable, especially for those parents trying to hold down jobs.
I held hope that the Saratoga Springs City School District would do right by the community and create a program that met COVID guidelines while allowing the 91 students in the Extended School Year (ESY) Program a chance to grow. This program is for kids who need additional academic and social support in order to prevent summer slide…a very real issue. Nearly three weeks after the EO was issued and several attempts to find out what would be offered in Saratoga, parents still had received no word from the District. Finally, I was informed by the Director of Pupil Services that the summer program would be remote only.
Feeling like I had been kicked in the stomach, I listened to the excuses as to why the Saratoga School District couldn’t figure it out and waited another 3 weeks for details to follow.
Putting my sadness, skepticism and the feeling of defeat aside, I signed my daughter up for the program thinking that it was better than nothing. I was wrong. In order to fully participate, they expect my kindergartner, a 6-yr. old, to sit, with my assistance, through more than 2 hours of online classes each day between 9:00 am and 2:30 pm, leaving little time for real interaction and play, let alone my job.
All students deserve better than what the District has offered during this situation. The struggles are just exacerbated for special needs families. I’m left with little confidence for what the Fall will bring.
Meghan Connolly Haupt lives in Saratoga Springs and is a working mother of 2 children. After having spent her adult life in California, she relocated back to the Capital District to be near family.
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