Rural Georgia School District Adopts Online Speech Therapy

Fannin County Schools in Blue Ridge, GA, has selected PresenceLearning to provide online speech therapy and other special education-related services for K-12 students. The district now has approximately 30 students in grades K-8 using online speech therapy.

Fannin County is located in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountain Range, approximately 90 miles north of Atlanta. Its rural location made it difficult for Fannin County Schools to find qualified SLPs. When the district had not filled its fourth SLP vacancy within a four-month period, it began looking for alternatives. After speaking with individuals at Union County School System, Fannin County Schools’ Special Education Specialist, Heather Finley, and its Director of Student Services, Betsy Hyde, decided to move forward with online speech therapy, despite both SLP and parent skepticism.

“We previewed PresenceLearning with our district SLPs last spring, and we were all reluctant to try it,” said Finley. “We heard that online therapy worked really well for Union County, but we felt an on-site therapist was better. Parents were also concerned that their students would not receive the attention they needed.”

To combat this reluctance, Fannin County Schools chose students who only had speech issues to use the online therapy. The district also invited parents to come into the school and participate in a simulated online speech therapy session. After implementation at the beginning of the year, the feedback has been positive.

“The PresenceLearning SLPs have been great about gathering information, communicating with teachers and our SLPs, and being very responsive and compliant with timelines,” said Finley. “They are very efficient in IEP meetings and very informative to the parents. And the parents are happy to hear that their children are engaged, focus and getting the support they need.”