The Lloydminster Catholic School Division is still offering supplemental learning for students until the end of June.
The Government of Saskatchewan recently announced students won’t be returning to classrooms this school year. LCSD Director of Education Nigel McCarthy says they hoped to see students in their halls again but safety is a priority.
“It’s sad but we understand there are a number of people working very hard on plans dealing with the issues during the pandemic. We have to trust that those decisions are the best possible during this time.”
About 90 per cent of LCSD students took part in supplemental learning when originally offered at the beginning of April. McCarthy says they’ve managed to maintain that number of students since closing their facilities.
“It’s not a scenario that we expected in September or even in February but it’s the partnership parents across the city have had with all of our schools that’s really made this work for our kids and helped all the children remain connected.”
McCarthy says the partnership has exceeded his expectations when they first set out their supplemental learning plans. He mentions that there has also been significant growth in one-on-one sessions between students and their educational assistants and teachers.
A particular highlight for McCarthy during these changes were the times he was able to read to kindergarten classes.
“I’ve been able to go into a couple of classes and read a book here and there. It’s a wonderful part of the job that we get to do and finding ways to do that even in virtual education has been a gift.”
McCarthy mentions he’s heard good things from teachers saying the educational framework has given them more opportunities to be creative and try new things. Feedback from parents and students has also been positive.
“Students can work at their own rate through the week and they have a lot of visibility of what they might need to accomplish. They might be doing it at different times of the day or they might be getting together in groups to work on what’s been put in front of them.”
LCSDs supplemental learning plan won’t be seeing any changes but McCarthy says teachers do have some freedom how to teach their lessons.
“The only changes are the evolutions in how teachers are delivering the material. There’s no change in the mandate in supplemental learning or from the province at this time. The structure will be consistent through the end of the year I expect.”
How schools will look and operate are still unknown as the provincial Response Planning Team continues to explore different options. The decision could be anything from only remote learning, a blended approach or a full return to the buildings with COVID-19 protocols in place.
“We’re preparing scenarios for all three of those eventualities as are all school divisions. We have to try and think through all scenarios because I don’t anticipate in the next few weeks that I’m going to know which of those three things are going to happen in the fall.”
Discussions between LCSD, LPSD and the province are still ongoing for what graduation will look like this summer. McCarthy says he hopes to share some news in the coming weeks.