School Divisions continue to update on COVID-19 planning

Saskatchewan Rivers School Board director of education Robert Bratvold answers a question at the 2016 AGM.

With schools closing and class suspended indefinitely both school divisions in Prince Albert continue to communicate amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Both the Saskatchewan Rivers School Division and Prince Albert Catholic Division communicated where they knew they stood to parents in their divisions.

“Please know that our teachers and staff are distressed by the sudden suspension of classes and the loss of daily connection with your children, but they are anxious to support students in their learning over the coming weeks. Many students will have received learning resources from their teacher already, but we have been asked by the Ministry to wait before we do further work on how we support learning while classes are suspended,” Saskatchewan Rivers board chair Barry Hollick said in the letter.

The Saskatchewan Rivers Division has activated its Business Continuity Plan and most of the school division operations will be paused except for essential business services. In a similar letter the Catholic Division also announced that they are under the Business Continuity Plan.

Schools in the division are officially closed from March 20-27. In an emergency contact the Education Centre. The letter explained that there may be some division staff in schools after March 27 with classes remaining suspended indefinitely. The schools in the Catholic Division and the Catholic Education Centre are closed from March 20 to 29 because employees were instructed by the Ministry of Education and Govermment to have a 10-day isolation period. Although there was no announcement, it is believed that the regular meeting of the Catholic School Division on Monday, March 23 is canceled.

Sask Rivers explained that families are not expected to deliver home-based education to ensure students meet outcomes.

“However, we know that parents are a child’s first and most important teachers. Time spent with your child reading and talking about the book has a wonderful impact on a child; cooking together and measuring ingredients is great for developing number sense in young children. Talking with your child about their interests and concerns will help your child feel settled and comforted during this challenging time.” the letter stated.

Sask Rivers explained that they are working actively with the Ministry of Education to plan for continued learning opportunities for students and will have information in the coming weeks. According to NDP leader Ryan Meili in a conference call from his home on March 20 sometime in April there will be more online delivery of programming.

“And we’re really happy to hear that we know that the teachers are working hard to prepare that. They’ve been doing a ton of work in this last week to get ready for the final day. Report cards have been going out, etc. and now they’re working to make sure they stay connected with their kids in their classes,” he said.

Meili wants to see more technological support. The Meili family is well adjusted for any of this .

“ Abraham, our eight year old will be able to participate in his Grade 3 class. We’re getting the emails from (the teacher). She’s ready to go with the classes starting very soon.(The technology is there) so they can even see their other classmates in their homes. That’s exactly what we need to see,” Meili explained.

Unfortunately everyone is not as fortunate and may not have technology available due to financial situations.

“I would really like to see the government make it clear that t they’re going to work with SaskTel and make that technology available.

“Just as anybody right now, we’re telling everyone, don’t go to the office. If you need help you phone, you email. What do people do who don’t have phones, or computers at home? We need to make sure we’re working with our with our crowns, to have a process through which people can apply and get technology quickly, so that they can continue to participate in the things that we’re now asking them to distance themselves from,” Meili explained.

A provincial committee has been formed to look at ways to provide learning supports for students. That committee is said to be delivering its recommendations soon.

The Sask Rivers letter explained the current direction from the Ministry of Education is that every student will receive a final grade based on their current grade, and students will progress to their next grade level next year. Every student who is eligible to graduate from Grade 12 this year will graduate.

They are also still waiting to learn the details about how marks, high school credits and transition to post-secondary will work.

The Catholic Division also posted a COVID-19 Guide for Parents and Caregivers.

-With files from Peter Lozinski