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Class of COVID-19: Some Special Ed Students Struggle To Communicate Remotely

Illustration by Camila Kerwin

On a cool evening in December, Denise Wilson scrolled through YouTube to find children’s videos for her 18-year-old son, Brady. She handed him his iPad and watched over him as he rocked his head to a tune by the Wiggles.

Their dog, Keefer, roamed around the patio looking for attention. But Brady was consumed with the song, forcing Keefer to lay her front paws on Denise.

“Brady, is Keefer the prettiest one in the family?” Denise asked.

“Yeah,” Brady said, nodding, briefly taking his eyes away from his device.

“Yeah,” Denise agreed, as they smiled at each other.

Last spring, the coronavirus pandemic forced schools across the state to shut down, and teachers to move their lessons online, which Denise said was a struggle from the start for Brady. He is among the nearly 15% of public school students in Florida who have a disability and receive special education services.

Find the rest of the story here.

'Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students' WJCT News 89.9 Special

WJCT News 89.9 will air the one-hour radio special on "The Class of COVID-19" on Friday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. It will also be streamed on and in the WJCT app.

'Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students' Jax PBS Special

WJCT-TV 7.1 will air the one-hour TV special on "The Class of COVID-19" on Monday, February 22 at 9 p.m. on antenna TV channel 7.1, Comcast channels 8 and 440. It will also be streamed on Passport and in the WJCT app. The special will encore on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at 5:00 p.m. is also running a portion of many of the stories.

WLRN education reporter Jessica Bakeman contributed reporting for this story.

This story is part of the Florida Public Media series, "Class of COVID-19: An Education Crisis For Florida's Vulnerable Students." Find the whole project — and sign up for our limited-run newsletter — at

“Class of COVID-19” is being produced through a partnership with the following public media organizations: WLRN (Miami), WGCU (Fort Myers), WFSU (Tallahassee), WUSF (Tampa), WMFE (Orlando) , WUCF (Orlando), WPBT/WXEL (Miami/Boynton Beach), WJCT (Jacksonville), WEDU (Tampa) and WUWF (Pensacola).

The project is supported in part by the Hammer Family Charitable Foundation and the Education Writers Association.

Robbie Gaffney is a recent graduate from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.