School divisions developing alternate learning strategies for students
School administrations from across the province are working this week to develop strategies to ensure there are sufficient learning opportunities for their students after the provincial government announced on Sunday afternoon that all classes would be stopped indefinitely. The decision by the government came at the direction of Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health.
Prairie Rose School Division (PRSD) superintendent Roger Clarke, in a letter to parents sent out on Sunday following the announcement, said, “Schools will close indefinitely, but will continue to provide education, despite the current challenges.”
PRSD communications coordinator Angela Baron said administration was developing plans for the students which would be available later this week.
“We need to work out strategies and we recognize each child is going to be different. Some have Internet access, some don’t. Some have parents working, some don’t. There are so many variables that have to be considered,” said Baron. “We’re making sure students have the chance to progress and need to make sure all of our kids are supported.”
Clarke noted that teachers will be receiving direction from principals this week about developing plans to allow students to progress while learning from home and asks parents to start thinking about developing a schedule that sets aside time for studies.
“These are unprecedented times and education has never been offered in this way before. There will likely be bumps along the way, but we are committed to ensuring that Prairie Rose students have a successful school year,” he wrote in the letter.
Alberta Education minister Adrianna LaGrange said that while classes have ceased, all other school operations will keep going.
“School authorities are expected to continue their regular day-to-day operations and ensure the safety of our school facilities. We expect maintenance, capital projects, cleaning of facilities, and administrative work to continue,” said LaGrange.
At the same time, she provided words of encouragement for students and parents with regards to final grades and progressing to the next level.
“Now I know that student progression will be on the minds of both parents and students. We expect every student to receive a final mark and that students will progress to the next grade level next year. However, provincial assessments, such as provincial achievement tests will be cancelled as of this time. Diploma exams essential for post-secondary acceptance will continue. We are confident that every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate.”
As PRSD students adjust to learning from home, administration is trying to reduce the uncertainty for their students.
“We are trying to keep a sense of normalcy. The risk is low and we want to keep it that way. This is new territory for everybody,” said Baron.
Grasslands School Division superintendent Scott Brandt issued a written statement to parents on March 17, advising them of the classroom closures at their schools.
“I am very proud of our teachers and staff as they realize that learning and teaching is going to look different and continue to evolve. They are already discussing creative and innovative ways to end the needs of a range of learners in a variety of settings,” wrote Brandt.
“The province will provide clear guidelines for minimum levels of content, school jurisdiction will navigate “how” we engage students in the learning. At this time, we do know that we will be delivering content in multiple formats (ex. paper copies, electronic, etc.) for students who have different learning preferences or access to technology.”
More specific details will be provided over the next few days.