N.B. return-to-school plans to include blended learning, reduce congestion in high schools

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The province announced Thursday the return-to-school plan for students in grades 9 to 12 will include blended learning methods, which combine instruction in class and at home to ensure a safe learning environment.

The Return to School: Guide for Parents and the Public provides a detailed overview of what students, parents and guardians need to know before the return to school in September.

In a statement, the government said the schedule for high school students will vary among “the roughly 70 schools with students in Grades 9 to 12, depending upon their student population and the available space.”

Students at schools that have the space to implement proper physical distancing may be scheduled to attend class each day, according to the province.

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However, students at other schools may end up attending class, at a minimum, every other day in order to make sure physical distancing can be enforced properly.

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“All students registered in a class will continue learning full time and will collaborate with their teachers and classmates throughout the day, whether at school or at home,” the province said.

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When virtual courses are offered, the province said student attendance will be taken, including a check-in and followup for all students in the class.

“On the days they are not in class, students may learn remotely via Microsoft Teams, Desire 2 Learn or Clic.”

High school students to bring their own electronic device: province

To support blended learning, high school students will be expected to bring their own electronic devices to class, said the province.

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“This approach is intended to promote flexibility for students as they rotate between learning in school and learning from home.”

According to the province, the Laptop Subsidy Program is available to students from low- and middle-income families who require a laptop through the Parent Portal. Eligible families who have yet to purchase a laptop have two options:

  • They may purchase their own laptop and be reimbursed, provided the laptop meets the technical specifications.
  • They may choose to purchase a laptop through the department’s provider at a reduced rate, after taking into account the amount of subsidy for which their family is eligible. For this option, families will need to register for a special code through the Parent Portal.
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“Families which are not eligible for a subsidy are also able to receive the department’s special rate by purchasing a device through the program,” the province stated in a press release.

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To increase access to virtual learning for students, the province said students, particularly in rural communities, will also have access to alternate learning spaces that will be available in school or other community facilities.

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