In Person Learning Resumes At Arizona’s Gateway Academy.

Teachers Ready To Help Autistic Students Recover From Post COVID Trauma Following Months Of Isolation.

(PHOENIX) Making the transition from on-screen learning to in person classroom learning can be especially challenging, even traumatic, for many autistic students as they re-learn socialization skills that may have been tragically lost when COVID forced schools to close last school year.

Gateway Academy, the Valley’s top school serving Twice-Exceptional students (academically capable and diagnosed with a level 1 Autism Spectrum Disorder) resumed in person learning on Monday July 12.

Its faculty and staff have spent the summer getting ready to welcome back its students with an emphasis on restoring those critical and needed socialization skills. It also stands ready to help new students, who could benefit from Gateway’s unique approach.

Gateway Academy’s Executive Director and CEO, O. Robin Sweet said, “While mandatory school closures and on screen learning were needed to slow the spread of COVID, the unfortunate side effect for autistic students was the loss of some important socialization skills. We are eager to serve new students and welcome back our current students so they can recover, regain skills, and thrive.”

Gateway helps students overcome these challenges using a variety of strategies including:

  • Positive Behavioral Approach
  • Compensation strategies
  • A student teacher ratio of 10:1
  • Accommodations for the student’s academic strengths/struggles and social gaps
  • Lessons in Time-Management and Organizational Skills
  • Extra time on tests
  • Reduced homework

Gateway Director of Education, Chris Perea said, “COVID challenged us all. Prolonged isolation can often exacerbate the challenges faced by students with autism. It’s tragic but not permanent. We are eager and ready to get these students back on track.”

When schools were ordered closed because of COVID last year, Gateway was prepared as it had recently invested in remote learning technology and a new curriculum with an online component. And while those innovations were critical in addressing academic progress, they could not replace an in person environment needed to attain and advance socialization skills that often elude autistic students.

Sweet added, “Our school has twin missions, giving students the academic skills to achieve their collegiate and career goals, and giving them the social skills to lead fulfilling and complete lives. We refuse to let the effects of the pandemic stand in the way of either.”