Division News Article

Getting ready for a new ‘First Day of School’

March 20th, 2020

Our school staff are extraordinarily dedicated professionals who care deeply about your children’s learning. They really miss being with them every day. They and the division staff have worked hard to prepare for a new ‘first day of school’ on March 30th.

Regarding continuity of learning

  • The division administration has directed school staff to use the last 5 days to prepare for instruction at a distance.
  • We do not expect students to do school work during Spring Break next week.
  • We plan to provide instruction beginning on Monday, March 30th.
  • Instruction will focus on the learning outcomes in Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, and Science.  
    • High schools may make an effort to offer other courses in grades 10-12

What will instruction be like?

March 30th will be like a new first day of school.  Students and teachers will need to learn how to interact and connect in a different ‘classroom’. The experience of successful distance education students tells us:

  • Go slow
  • Learn the structure and norms
  • Learn how to communicate in different ways, and allow time to practice
  • Start with manageable amounts of content that you understand
  • Students are not expected to be directly engaged in coursework for the same length of day as they would in a classroom setting

There will be a variety of approaches taken by teachers.  Their approach will depend on the grade level, the experience of the teacher, and the experience of the students.

  • Our teachers are learning to teach from a distance.
  • Teachers will communicate using phone calls, text and email, and digital face-to-face tools like FaceTime, Skype, and Google Hangouts/Meet.
  • You can expect teachers to be available during normal school hours. Check with your teacher for their individual schedules.
  • Some students will be able to do some of their work on devices.  Some of this work can be shared back to the teacher for feedback.
  • Some work will be done using hands-on, paper and pencil resources.  Students can return this work by taking pictures or scanning their work with mobile phones.
  • We are working on a variety of ways to provide students with individualized supports as well.
    • Counsellors and support people continue to be available.
    • SLPs and OTs are exploring how to support individual students.

It is important to repeat that there will be a variety of approaches taken by teachers.

Alberta Education’s Guidance

Alberta Education has released new guidelines to direct how students will learn while in-school classes are cancelled due to the provincial health emergency.

Please refer to the news release: Continuing student learning.

See also this list of Questions and Answers from Alberta Education.

How can parents help?

  • Students who work from home benefit from supervision and monitoring by adults.
  • Help them to set up schedules.
  • Create a specific space for your children to do school-work.
  • Help your child communicate with their teachers about struggles and or barriers.

What about tests and exams?

  • Alberta Education has declared that Provincial Achievement Tests (grades 6 and 9) are cancelled.
  • The March 20 news release from Alberta Education stated that Grade 12 Provincial Diploma Exams are cancelled. They also state, “Under special circumstances, students can request to write a diploma exam.”
  • The March 20 news release from Alberta Education stated “Teachers will be responsible for assessing a student’s progress and assigning a final grade. School authorities have committed to ensuring parents are consulted and kept informed of how assessment will be determined in this unique circumstance.”
  • For reasons already described, assessment will look different across different grades and it will be different from teacher to teacher.

School Playgrounds are closed temporarily to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission

The week ending March 20th

  • Teachers spent the week gathering together supports and resources in preparation for a different way of providing instruction to students
  • Schools arranged for parents and students to pick up materials
  • Schools gathered information about the availability of online connectivity and devices

Other information

  • Grade 12 students may be anxious about completing graduation requirements.
    • We have been assured by the province that students in this situation will be well supported.
    • Where possible, schools will work with high school students to complete their courses to the best of their ability, providing a final mark and awarding credits.
    • The details of how course completions will be credited to them is forthcoming.
  • It is too soon to make a decision regarding graduation ceremonies, but based on the guidance from the province, gatherings of large groups are not advised.
    • This decision will be made in due time and communicated as soon as it’s made.

Supporting our staff

The health and safety of our staff is very important to maintaining continuity of education. As such, we have implemented a plan allowing our employees to work from home. To be clear, we are not directing them to work at home. It is an option. We anticipate that some staff will choose a combination. Either way, school staff will continue to connect with students.

Where possible and reasonable, school administration have reorganized teacher assignments to bring equity to work loads. We are also creating a specific webpage through which teachers can access tools, ideas and training materials for teaching at a distance.

Visit our COVID-19 Information landing page to see all information and updates:

COVID-19 Information