Coronavirus: B.C. teachers scramble to organize at-home learning as spring break ends

B.C. parents facing uncertainty with classes suspended after spring break
Parents who would normally be getting ready to send their children back to school are facing uncertainty as to what will happen next week. Richard Zussman reports.

The B.C. government has launched a website to help parents continue their child’s education at home, as spring break comes to an end but the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The Keep Learning BC website was announced on Friday afternoon, where parents will find ideas for everyday educational activities, links to free learning resources, guides to maintaining routines and staying safe online, and mental health resources.

School districts around the province are trying to figure out remote instruction for kids of all ages, abilities and computer access, as spring break ends March 27 but in-classroom instruction remains on hold to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

The Vancouver School District will start to reach out to parents next week, after officials sent a letter to parents outlining plans to keep their kids learning.

READ MORE: B.C. suspends K-12 classes indefinitely amid coronavirus pandemic, says economic help coming

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“For Vancouver students, school will not be the same. As you know, in-class instruction is suspended. This means there will be a fundamental shift in school services and supports for students,” the letter reads.

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“Teachers and support staff will need time to prepare and plan for what that looks like and how to carry out the plans to support students. One of our top three priorities is to establish ways to maintain supportive connections between home and school.”

Parents across B.C. should expect to hear from their own school district by the end of next week.

Teachers and administrators are still expected to be at schools if they can do so under B.C.’s public health orders. They’ll continue to be paid a full salary through the end of the school year.

“The school system will be functioning. People will be doing their jobs. They will just do them differently,” Education Minister Rob Fleming said.

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Schools will also serve as childcare space for essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as health workers, first responders and grocery-store workers. Parents looking for such childcare should contact their school’s principal.

The province is leaving most of the planning and decisions to individual districts, but has produced a fact sheet online with the most frequently asked questions.

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As for students with special learning needs, the government says it will ensure they get the same level of education as everyone else.

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“For students who were receiving specialized supports (e.g. physical therapy, occupational therapy) on-site, school district and independent school teams have been asked to consider alternate service delivery models where feasible,” the face sheet says.

The Learning Disabilities Society of Greater Vancouver launched the online RISE at Home program this week, which provides one-on-one at-home instruction to kids with learning disabilities. It will be available on the society’s website on March 30.