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School for Deaf and Blind overcoming obstacles during pandemic

Updated: Feb. 1, 2021 at 8:23 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Students continue to return to the classroom with a different skill set than just a year ago.

At the Mississippi School for the Deaf and Blind the pandemic has intensified their efforts to learn new strategies to navigate and be successful.

“I was here three days and everything shut down,” said Mississippi School for the Deaf and Blind superintendent Donna Sorensen.

The north Alabama native and recent Montana transplant saw her students and staff rise to the challenge during the pandemic.

The visually impaired and hard of hearing student body is adjusting to life and learning during COVID-19.

“Whatever students needed we tried to find here on campus or ordered and get it and then delivered to the children to be able to access their education,” added Sorensen.

Senior Mary Enow of Jackson is deaf and has mastered distance learning but prefers on campus classes.

“Communication’s definitely less clear when we’ve got our faces covered,” said Enow. “So you have to sort of adapt to that and sure hands are clear, but the face is an important part of that so that’s another barrier we sort of experienced through COVID”.

During the pandemic freshman Torrence Peterson of Florence, who is visually impaired, won second place in the National Scholastic Achievement writing competition.

“Writing is a good way to express my thoughts, really help get my imagination flowing and help the world understand just how my mind, just how my mind thinks,” said Peterson.

There are 120 students, 80 are deaf and 40 are blind.

A third of the campus is learning virtually.

Inside a senior World History class it looks like many others across the state.

Dr. Lashawna Fant is visually impaired and has worked with students to identify learning strategies.

She is Teacher of Students of Visually Impairments.

Among her classes are Daily Living Skills, Transition and Employment and and others.

“It’s always going to be changes,” said Fant. “So I just have to adjust my mindset and do what I had to do to help these visually impaired blind children be successful”.

Many students have plans to go to college and become professionals, by overcoming the same obstacles their sighted and hearing peers are facing.

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