MANTECA (CBS13) — School can already be a bear for little ones, but add distance learning into the mix for preschoolers with special needs and there’s a whole new set of challenges.

“They would just reject, reject the whole idea. They would have a meltdown. They’re very finicky in that point. They want the interaction,” said mom Cherie Brimhall.

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That’s why her boys, six-year-old Noah and four-year-old Jeremiah have new tools. Manteca Unified School officials expanded their focus, now making sure preschool students with special needs also have a device for distance learning.

“Giving them the ability to have that one-on-one interaction with their teacher or speech therapist or occupational therapist is critical especially during this time. You know we can send packets home but that doesn’t really help when you can’t see what’s going on with a particular student,” said Special Education Director Jody Burriss.

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“This is very different than the first time around. We had it more as a crisis mode and our children did not already have any devices.  So, it was really difficult,” said teacher Kimberly Cunningham.

Cunningham works with preschool students with special needs at Stella Brockman Elementary School. She says face-to-face interaction is critical.

“I have visually impaired students so we’re working on vision support, we’re working on occupational therapy support. We need to be able to see the therapist to know what the therapist wants to implement the parents to be able to see the therapist,” said Cunningham.

“I like being guided by the teacher, let’s do this, let’s do that.  I like that communication,” said Brimhall.

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There are nearly 100 special needs students in the Manteca Unified School District. After struggling through distance learning the first time around without a device, now every one of them has a laptop to be able to see their teacher.