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Edmonton school asks for tech, food donations during COVID-19 pandemic

Edmonton school asks for tech, food donations during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: It's been one week since the new normal began for Edmonton students. Community Reporter Morgan Black checks up on students, parents and teachers to see how they've taken to online learning.

It’s been one week since Edmonton students began online learning after the COIVD-19 pandemic prompted the cancellation of classes.

Now, educators are working to ensure kids have access at home to all the resources found at their school.

“In some areas of the city, it’s really easy to have your pick of a Chromebook, an iPad or sit at your parent’s desktop. In our neighbourhood, those choices simply aren’t there,” Bannerman School principal Tara Copeman said.

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Copeman said, in some Edmonton homes, three or four kids could be competing for the same device.

“Then it becomes ‘Whose turn is it to learn?’ We need to make sure all of our children have access to learning,” Copeman said. “Now [that kids aren’t at school], that’s not something I can control.
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“We want to make sure we can keep that technology equity. It’s critical for us to maintain that connection with students.”

Copeman penned a letter on March 31 to the Edmonton community, asking for donations of technology, food and various other supplies to distribute to those who may need it.

READ MORE: Alberta government releases plan to keep K-12 students learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

She came up with the idea after a conversation with a colleague at a different school.

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“We were talking about how different communities have different needs and different resources. We wanted to figure out how to connect the helpers with the people who are in need.”

The principal said response has been “overwhelming.” Numerous schools have shared the call-to-action to help facilitate more donations to Bannerman School.

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“It’s actually been amazing. We have had food, books, toiletries, gift cards donated. I’ve been keeping a running tally of everything. I am blown away by how this community responded.”

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She likened a child’s school to a community hub, where the relationships with various families allow educators to gain a better understanding of what each student may need.

“A really big piece of being at school is being able to see your teacher, say ‘Hello’ and ask for what you require,” said Copeman.

“We don’t want students to suffer because of things that are out of their control, like not having access to technology.”

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If you’re looking to help out your community, Copeman suggested reaching out to your local school administration.

“We have the capacity to collect these things. We have the relationship with families where we can call them and say ‘This is a safe place where you can come and pick these things up. We will take care of you.'”

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The principal said connecting with families and finding solutions for them is paramount.

“We are all one in this. We are going to need each other,” said Copeman. “As a school, we want to maintain that relationship with these students. So in September, when these kids come back…they know that we never left them.”

All schools in Alberta were ordered closed on March 15 in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.