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Coronavirus: Winnipeg teacher offers home-schooling advice, support to anxious parents

Manitoba schools will remain closed indefinitely for the remainder of the school year. Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press

A Winnipeg teacher says parents shouldn’t stress over having to teach their kids at home as schools remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Melissa Champagne, a Grade 6 teacher at École Robert H. Smith School, is trying to figure out the best way to keep her class engaged while classes are cancelled.

“One of my biggest struggles is trying to figure out what’s pertinent, what’s appropriate right now for learning,” Champagne told Global News in a video chat on Tuesday.

The French Immersion teacher has two school-aged daughters herself and is assigning work from the perspective of a parent.

Her class gets a daily checklist which adds up to about two and a half hours worth of assignments. Most of it includes recommendations for physical exercise and the rest she wants her class to be able to do independently online, which she said isn’t out of the ordinary for a Grade 6 class.

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“I think that they are getting to that point where they can be a little more independent, so this week we’re trying to set systems up that way,” she said.

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“Teaching them how to use their email so they can email me, teaching them how to submit assignments properly on Google Classroom so they can kind of do some of those things on their own.”

Champagne understands many kids will need assistance which could cause extra anxiety for parents in an already hectic situation. She encourages parents to create their own structure that fits their lifestyle.

“If those due dates don’t work for you, that’s okay,” she said.

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“If you can sit down and do a little bit of reading with your kids at some point and that’s all you do, that’s going to be just fine.”

On March 31, Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen announced Manitoba schools will remain closed indefinitely for the remainder of the school year.

At that news conference, Goertzen said the possibility of kids going back to school will depend on orders under the Public Health Act.

Champagne said parents shouldn’t be worried about their children being too far behind when school is back, even if they’re having trouble keeping up with the work at home.

“This three months isn’t going to undo major learning for students,” she said.

“Teachers will meet their needs and we know that challenge is coming and we are prepared for that. That’s our job.”

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