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Disabled students in Turkey welcome a return to in-person education

Disabled students in Turkey welcome a return to in-person education

The coronavirus outbreak changed the habits of millions of students in Turkey and the world. With schools switching to distance education and amending the rules for in-person education, schools and students tried to adapt to these changes. For hearing impaired and visually-impaired students, it is altogether an extra challenge. Not surprisingly, they welcomed a return to in-person education earlier this month.

Going to school is a blessing for students confined to home amid the pandemic. Certainly, masks and having to wait outside the school to have their temperature checked every day are stifling in this new normal. Nevertheless, they hope that in-person education will prevail in the end.

For now, they attend school in classrooms with up to five people at a time and in limited hours, as a measure against potential infections. Cengiz Polat, principal of Kemal Yurtbilir Middle School for the Hearing Impaired in the capital Ankara, said 94 from among 100 students have attended the school since reopening on March 2 and that they took every measure possible, from ensuring all students wear masks to hygiene and social distancing. Polat told Anadolu Agency (AA) on Tuesday that the education is the same as before but masks, and a new staple of pandemic-hit daily life, sometimes become problematic. He noted that teachers had to find ways to boost participation in classes as masks covering their mouths hindered communication.

Mehmet Ertuğrul, a physical education teacher at the school, says they decided to repeat the same class a few times more for students and largely relied on sign language, to overcome the challenge the masks posed. “Some students can read lips while others have no hearing at all. It is difficult for both them and us and we hope masks will soon be gone,” he said. “We need transparent masks,” Melek Köse, one of the students, suggested.