Rural > Jason Choi School
Iowa City, Iowa Age: 12 / Grade: 5 Disability Type: Autism (nonverbal)
Jason Choi
Iowa City, Iowa Age: 12 / Grade: 5 Disability Type: Autism (nonverbal)
scene 1

Getting to school

Jason gets to school on the school bus and has his temperature checked before entering.

Fall is a bunch of misses--survey that goes to dad's spam filter--doesn't check email.
Assigned the i-Ready screener that Jason doesn't complete. He is unable complete on his own. The clinician that would normally do a Fall check-in is working fewer days per week and doesn't get Jason scheduled.
Start of school, right after Labor Day
I hate riding the bus. I don't want to go to school.
Bus Driver
Every day, I have a lot of issues with students taking off their masks, sitting next to each other, etc. They don't know better, but I'm worried for my own health...
School Nurse
The temperature checks in the mornings are especially hard for some of our students with attention, awareness and control issues. It takes at least thirty minutes every day to get in.
scene 2


Jason's classroom is set up with several distancing and sanitary precautions.

Child study team meeting. PE is great, but behavior is getting in the way of academic progress. Autism specific (ASB behavior screener) screening with a school staff member.
competency-based conversation about skills development with the father.
I don't like the feeling of fabric on my face. It's itchy and I feel trapped.
Special educator
I'm really worried about how this virus might be spreading in a class where many students are constantly taking off their masks or need to be in close physical contact with our aides.
Trusted adult/ One-to-one aide
I love my students and we've built a great relationship of trust but I also have a wife and young child who I don't want to potentially expose to coronavirus.
Special educator
I've started using social stories to explain to students why these rules are in place. They've been very helpful...
A month later...
A teacher at Jason's school tests positive for COVID-19 and the entire school has to switch to remote learning.
scene 3

Taking classes from home

Jason takes his online class at the kitchen counter with his dad's supervision.

Switching to remote learning means a huge technology learning curve for Jason, his dad, and his teacher.
There's too many squares on the screen- I don't know where to look.
Since my power plant had to shut down and I lost my job, my wife started working and I stay home and supervise. I can't leave Jason to take classes on the computer by himself, but I'm much less familiar with all the technology than my wife is...
Special educator
I'm significantly older than the other teachers at my school. Teaching via video call is very difficult for me with my hearing aid, and I'm no tech wiz either.
scene 4

Disability meeting

Jason and his dad have to meet with his disability team online to rewrite his disability

Start of second quarter, a few weeks into remote learning
All of this is new for me. I've never gone to an disability meeting before and I'm not familiar with any of the platforms we have to keep up with...
Disability Coordinator
Having to rewrite disabilities for all 120 of our students receiving special education services means our workload is through the roof right now ...
Jason's school begins offering weekly tech office hours for parents and families.
The tech office hours have definitely helped me to sort through the different software I have to set up for Jason.
scene 5

Occupational Therapy

Jason uses an at-home sensory kit in the place of his usual occupational therapy appointments

Start of spring semester
The place where Jason gets occupational therapy has been shut down since the start of the pandemic. It's hard to replicate the physical activities over a video call, so his therapist sends Jason sensory kits biweekly.
Jason normally goes to occupational therapy twice a week and it helps him get his energy out. Without that release, it's been tough for him to channel that energy...
Occupational Therapist
It's almost impossible to replicate the physical release you get from therapy, but our hope is that the sensory kits will allow students to address their sensory and tactile needs on their own...
When I get scared, I squeeze the ball inside my kit and it calms me down.
scene 6

PE Online

Jason takes his P.E. class online which helps him get some energy out

Mid spring semester
A statewide resurgence prevents Jason's school district from reopening in person as they had initially planned.
Jason’s P.E class is the only chance he gets to move around and release some pent up energy. His teacher has done a really good job of keeping the kids engaged...
PE coach
I was having trouble figuring out how to replicate the feeling of P.E. online but I discovered that games like freeze dance that get kids moving but don't feel like work are really helpful...
And that's my story, See other stories: