Beginning Monday, Saskatchewan teachers will connect with students remotely to offer voluntary distance learning during the novel coronavirus pandemic, Global News has learned.
A memo sent Wednesday from Clint Repski, assistant deputy education minister, said most school staff will be able to work from home, and teachers “should employ multiple modes of delivery as available to them.”
A Ministry of Education spokesperson said school divisions will communicate all information about learning options available to students and families.
Regardless of the division, grades will be divided into five groups: prekindergarten, kindergarten to Grade 3, grades 4 to 6, grades 7 to 9 and grades 10-12. Teachers would then adjust lesson plans based on individual students’ objectives.
Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) president Patrick Maze said the goal isn’t to “perfectly replicate” the classroom setting, but provide students with the opportunity to continue learning if they choose to.
“Everybody’s going to have to manage their expectations and understand that there is no one perfect solution,” Maze said in an interview.
Access to technology may prove problematic for some Saskatchewan students who don’t have computers or high-speed internet at home.
“There are all kinds of issues — even just with having different platforms that might not be compatible with what the teacher is using at school or from home,” Maze said.
The Ministry of Education also states that when it comes to high school students with additional needs, the “teacher/student support team” will create an individualized learning plan.
Specific instructions were expected for lower grades at a later date, while Repski’s memo gave specific information about students in grades 10-12.
Marks continue to be frozen at what they were on March 13, starting at a minimum of 50 per cent. Taking part in distance learning would allow students to improve their grades.
Available high school subjects include language arts, mathematics, science, social sciences, health education/physical education, arts education/practical and applied arts.
Provincial exams in the K-12 systems are waived for non-accredited teachers beginning March 13 through the end of June 2020. All course challenge requests would happen with a student’s teachers and school.
“The Ministry of Education will work with post-secondary institutions to ensure that these extraordinary circumstances do not prevent students from being eligible for admission to post-secondary studies for the upcoming school year,” Repski stated.
The Ministry of Education’s regular updates go out to members of a responsive planning team (RPT), including school division directors of education and board chairs.
The RPT also have representatives from the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation, Saskatchewan School Boards Association, Saskatchewan Association of School Business Officials; and the League of Educational Administrators, Directors and Superintendents.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers across Canada are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. In Saskatchewan, international travellers are already required to self-isolate for 14 days upon their return to the province.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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