“There was frustration on our children and there was frustration as parents,” mom Sheri Rumblad said.
It wasn’t but just three months ago mom Sheri Rumblad’s son’s learning from the American School for the Deaf was entirely virtual.
“Sometimes he would be with an instructor and the technology wasn’t keeping up with the rate of the sign so everything was very blurry,” Rumblad said.
If the technology wasn’t enough of a challenge, mandatory mask requirements posed a language barrier for her son who is hard of hearing.
“All you really see are eyes, you can’t even tell if somebody is smiling if they are angry if they’re sad, it’s very hard to gauge that,” Rumblad said.
But when students and staff return to school this fall, they’ll be wearing these clear masks that allow them to see the mouth and improve their communication.
“With American Sign Language, facial expressions movements are a tremendous part of ASL grammar and communication,” ASD Executive Director Jeff Bravin said.
Bravin says there are 150 students that attend the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford. So far, about 60% of families surveyed say they plan on sending their students back to the school.
The school has students from both in and out of state, some who have been living and quarantining on campus since March. Those students will eat in separate areas and class sizes will continue to be limited to the six student semi-circle set-up they’ve always used.
“That’s typical for communication access where everybody can see each other and work together,” Bravin said.
Students who choose to learn virtually will use Zoom and Google Classroom through both live remote and pre-recorded video.