Students with Red Deer Public Schools began their online studies Monday after a week-long hiatus following school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bruce Buruma, director of community relations, said it was a good first day with a lot of the district’s 11,000 students connecting with their teachers.
“Students have been challenged being away from classes. It’s just not normal to be in this type of situation, so bringing students back to learning is a really important way for them to try to get back to a little bit of normal,” Buruma said.
“We’re tracking how engaged students are and who we are connecting with, and who we aren’t. There’s no doubt that there’s going to be adjustments that happen.
“Right now, our focus is on the core subjects — language arts, mathematics, science, social studies. As this becomes prolonged, if that is the case, then we will start looking at other ways of providing other subject areas.”
He said depending on a student’s grade level, they will receive information through email. They may participate in an online platform called Google Classroom, which allows teachers and students to share files.
And they could take part in virtual meetings for small groups to engage. Laptops have been made available to students who need them.
Last week, teachers worked collaboratively to prepare for online learning. Schools remain open to staff, with many working at schools, and some working from home.
“We want teachers to be available to students and parents. We have laid out an expectation on the amount of learning provided every week. We’re not on summer holidays. We really still want students to be focused and engaged in learning,” said Buruma.
Buruma said the education minister has told Albertans that students will proceed onto their next grade, but it’s still important they work from home to develop the skills and knowledge to move on.
“We know that students won’t necessarily be fully up to speed when they start their next grade. But this is an important way they can at least be closer to that point.”