School District of Philadelphia opens six in-person testing centers to help 600 students with special education needs
The school district, like the city, is on the slow road back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Philadelphia has 21,000 special needs students with individualized education plans or IEPs.
On Jan. 14, School District of Philadelphia Superintendent William Hite, along with his several administrators, announced that the district will now have six specialized areas for students with special education needs to assist them with completing assessments amid the city’s slow journey back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The establishments, called Specialized Services Regional Centers, opened their doors on Jan. 25. The free program has supervisors guide participating students through their assessments, and will also provide free school lunches.
“We remain focused on strengthening educational supports for our students with special needs while schools remain virtual,” said Hite. “Opening these centers is a crucial next step to help us evaluate and meet their needs during these challenging times.”
The long-awaited programs have been in dire need since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which students were forced to adjust to online learning.
Some have been able to, but many others have been left behind without proper home guidance and supervision
“Parents, teachers, administrators, and staff have continued to adjust and be creative to best support our students with diverse needs,” Hite said.
The new programs will be able to hold approximately 600 students in Philadelphia.
The centers will also provide flexible hours for families that have been working during the pandemic, and have no other way of finding childcare support.
Students who need help are able to get in contact with facilities that strategically scattered around the Philadelphia area.
The six centers are:
- West Philadelphia High School- 4901 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19139
- Arts Academy At Benjamin Rush- 11081 Knights Rd, Philadelphia, PA 19154
- Martin Luther King High School- 6100 Stenton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19138
- Thomas A. Edison High School- 151 West Luzerne Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140
- Strawberry Mansion High School- 3133 Ridge Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19132
- Creative and Performing Arts High School- 901 S Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Families have to provide transportation for students, but if they are in need of assistance, they can inform an instructor before an assessment is planned.
Ongoing plans on providing students with transportation are still in discussion.
The qualifying students will need to take a rapid COVID-19 test prior to participation in the program. They will also have to take an assessment test, which can last up to three hours.
The staff will then decide if the students need extra help with homework assistance.
They will also have to wear face masks and social distance.
“After they are tested, students will be escorted to the appropriate classroom where they will meet their assessors,” said District student health medical officer Barbara Klock.
The centers will also provide free weekly testing for students.
“Assessments will include school therapy assessments that are necessary to complete and finish revolution and reevaluation reports for students who are thought to be eligible for special education support and service,” said District Deputy Chief for the Office of Specialized Services, ShaVon Savage.
The district began the assignment of looking for students who qualify, but if anyone feels that their child can benefit from the program, they can apply on the district’s website.