LRSD to provide laptops, food to students’ families in need

FILE - A grade 6 student takes part in a virtual school session with her teacher and classmates. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means schools across the province are rethinking their approaches to education, but one Winnipeg school division is putting a new focus on what its families need during the crisis.

Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) superintendent Christian Michalik told 680 CJOB his division sent out surveys to students’ families, with the goal of helping fill the gaps in some key areas.

Michalik said the division will provide laptops to homes that don’t have computers so students will be able to stay in touch with their teachers and complete home assignments.

“We’re not waiting to finalize the survey results, so we’ve had a couple of hundred laptops readied for students, and we know that number is going to grow in the coming days,” Michalik said.

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“We also know that without a connection to the Internet, it’s going to be challenging, so a laptop alone isn’t enough.

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“We’re also going to learn, in a more precise way through this survey, the number of families that don’t have the Internet, and we’re working on solutions there as well.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Winnipeg School Division working on plan to let students pick up locker contents

Michalik said providing parents with educational tools to teach their kids from home during the pandemic has been a challenge on its own.

“We’ve got to be really mindful as educators in the design of the learning, to not overburden parents with an instructional challenge.

“Families are challenged enough just responding to this pandemic … and so in all our efforts, we also have to be thinking of everyone’s well-being and the social, emotional needs of not only our learners, but families as well.”

Louis Riel School Division superintendent Christian Michalik. Louis Riel School Division

Another aspect of the survey is an attempt to learn about food security among families in the division. Michalik said that the division was already helping some students with nutritional needs in schools before the pandemic, and that the current situation is serving to highlight some of the inequities across the city and province.

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“I have amazing colleagues who have been working on putting together a collective community effort around food and getting food to homes,” he said.

“Rather than having families come to schools, we’re going to reverse-engineer that and have our bus drivers deliver laptops and food and learning materials to homes.”

Click to play video: 'Students, parents and teachers adapting to abrupt end to the school year'
Students, parents and teachers adapting to abrupt end to the school year

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