Nebraska Schools Garner Praise for Delivering Online Therapy to Students with Special Needs

PresenceLearning, a leading telehealth network of live, online special education related service providers, recently named Norfolk Public Schools in Norfolk, NE as a winner of its 4th annual Awards of Excellence.

The awards recognized 12 educational organizations nationwide for their outstanding organizational leadership, teamwork, and improved outcomes in helping students with special needs succeed.

Norfolk Public Schools is a Class A school district in northeast Nebraska, serving approximately 4,300 K-12 students.

When the district was short an SLP and was unable to fill the position for the 2016-17 school year, Mary Luhr, the district’s Director of Special Services, decided to partner with PresenceLearning to provide online speech-language therapy services. Five online SLPs began working with approximately 55 students from two of Norfolk’s elementary schools that year.

“Our students are excited to attend their online therapy sessions,” said Luhr. “We were concerned with students staying on task during sessions, but they are really engaged with the online SLPs.”

Now in its second year of the program, the online SLPs conduct live, ongoing direct therapy services with approximately 80 students via PresenceLearning’s secure online therapy platform. They tailor sessions to students’ language disorders and articulation needs outlined in their IEPs, and are able to incorporate students’ academic work and interests. Just like the district’s onsite SLPs, the online SLPs participate in IEP planning, meet with district staff and students’ families to discuss student progress, and conduct assessments. The program attracted the interest of nearby districts experiencing therapist shortages, and Luhr shared Norfolk Public Schools’ experience and success with her colleagues.

“We have great communication with our staff, students’ families, and the online SLPs, and our Customer Success Manager is fantastic,” said Luhr. “She formally meets with us on a quarterly basis and she frequently touches base to make sure the program is running smoothly. The level of service we receive from PresenceLearning is amazing.”

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