Regina school boards pleased with fall semester of online-learning
REGINA -- For the last three months, students, teachers and parents have had to adjust to a new normal: online-learning.
Online-learning was presented as an option for parents when school divisions announced their return to classroom plans over the summer after school was cancelled in the spring.
The Regina Catholic School Division (RCSD) has 17 teachers working with more than 360 students in elementary school as part of their online-learning program.
"It was definitely a big learning curve for the teachers and for the students, learning that tech environment," Amy Sanville, online learning principal with the RCSD, said. "Things are going really, really well and we’re seeing some good connections being made and some good learning happening."
RCSD had been doing online-learning with high school students for the past 12 years, but it was a synchronous model where students worked independently.
"In the elementary, we had to think different," Sanville said. "Students are connecting with their teachers every single day and there’s a combination of live lessons and content that’s built into the program."
Sanville said the division has been pleased with the results.
"The teachers are working hard to make those connections with students and the students are making friends from different schools they would have never met before," she said.
The program hasn’t been without its issues, but Sanville said they’re adapting.
"We’re learning and changing as we go," she said. "As we see the learning needs in our school, we’ve been able to add a guidance councillor, we have a teaching assistant, an instructional assistant added."
The Catholic School Division said it has seen parents reaching out to move to online-learning for the next semester, but space is limited.
"Our first conversation with them is to reassure and talk to them about their base school and safety and guidelines we’ve put in place and most will end up returning to their school," David Magnusson, superintendent of educational services with RCSD, said.
"Our schools are safe, with the increase in cases and the increased number of schools being involved, what we have not seen to this point is transmission between students."
The Regina Public School Division has 2,300 students, including 1,800 from kindergarten to grade eight, taking part in their e-school over the fall semester.
The Division said it has seen an equal amount of families making the move to e-school for the next semester as there has been heading back into the classroom.
"We prefer, and I think a lot of the families who have experienced both prefer the in-classroom learning, it’s a more successful way of doing it," Terry Lazarou with Regina Public Schools said.
Lazarou said one thing they’ve noticed over the first few months of e-school is the importance of a mentor or parent being home with students during the day, especially in kindergarten to grade five.
"The learning requires that someone is there to support, supervise and provide any assistance to the younger grades," he said.
Lazarou added Regina Public Schools has been pleased with what it’s seen out of the online-learning’s first semester.
High schools in Regina were moved to level three of the Safe Schools Plan last month, which brings a hybrid of in-class and online-learning. Both school divisions say they haven’t considered moving elementary students to level three at this time.
FAMILIES CONTINUING TO ADAPT TO ONLINE-LEARNING
Mariel Harvey decided the best thing for her daughter Honnete Gauthier was to keep her home at the start of the school year.
"I didn’t feel that it was safe for her to be with her peers at 30 children a class," Harvey said.
It started out well, however Honnete attends a francophone school in Regina and Harvey said it was difficult to help her with her school work due to the language barrier.
"Her French was lacking, so I want her to get the best education that she possibly can," Harvey said.
Honnete was also becoming distracted during the day and it eventually led Harvey to make the decision to send her back to the classroom.
"It was kind of boring because I have all these things around me that I want to do," Gauthier said.
With the rising COVID-19 case numbers in the province over the past month, Harvey doesn’t feel comfortable with her daughter going to class and has made the decision to keep her home again until after Christmas.
"I don’t think our government has our best interests and as a mother, you have to make the choices that have your child’s best interests at heart," she said. "It’s really hard to fathom that we can only have five people in our homes, but we’re permitting children to go to class with 29 other students."
Harvey said she’s still deciding what’s next for Honnete.