Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Retooled approach for special-ed students brings surprising results during distancing era


Instructor Lauren Hirsch, top left, gives an occupational therapy session online during pandemic-era distance learning.

When Racheli Friedbauer, now 11, was enrolled four years ago in a Jewish special education program, it changed her life.

Due to a rare genetic disorder, Racheli has developmental delays and some medical problems, and she is extremely shy. But she thrived within the program, which is run by Sinai Schools, a network of special educational programs that operates within regular Jewish day school settings.

"It was an environment where she finally was comfortable, and she felt very loved and accepted for who she was," said her mother, Jill Friedbauer.

Then, in March, the coronavirus pandemic hit...

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