Edmonton students resume classes, but not at schools

First day of home schooling for many Edmonton students
WATCH ABOVE: Spring break is over and students are back to the books. There are no lunch boxes, backpacks or agendas, but there are familiar faces: teachers working hard to keep the doors of learning open from a distance. Lisa MacGregor has more on the first day back to school for students stuck at home due to COVID-19.

Monday marked the first day back to school for many Edmonton students following the spring break that wasn’t.

Outside closed Edmonton and area schools, there were no students in sight and all that was present was simply an eerie silence.

Students are back to learning, however, they are simply doing so virtually — and from home — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mother of three Michelle Henderson is balancing working from home while helping her kids continue their education. She said her kids’ teachers are helping.

“They were so excited to see their teachers on video,” Henderson said.

“The teacher let them know a schedule for when they can jump on calls so that everyone can join in together… [and] they can actually see their classmates.”
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Tim Cusack, the assistant superintendent of learning services innovation for Edmonton Catholic Schools, said the school board is treating this week like the start of a new school year.

“For all of us, it very much is a pivot from what we’ve come to know and love of our traditional school climate to more of a remote learning stance,” Cusack said.

“Having a routine at home is comforting for children. That’s why communication is really key… kind of that first day back reconnect: ‘How was your spring break? Here’s where we are.'”

Both the Edmonton Public and Catholic school divisions are working to help provide families with the tools to learn from home.

Janice Aubry, Edmonton Public Schools’ director of curriculum and resource supports, said the situation varies per family in terms of what’s needed at home.

“In some cases, though we do have to provide a little bit of technology support — possibly signing out Chromebooks for families — [it’s about] making sure they have access to internet, or at least paper and print resources,” she said.
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Teachers are finessing or learning new online skill-sets to deliver the courses and projects.

“I’ve spoken to a lot teachers who are really excited and ready to go ahead with this new environment, and it’s a new area to learn and to grow in,” Aubry said. “I think when we all emerge from this, our students and our families and our teachers will probably be looking at teaching and learning with new eyes.”