Kathleen Eisler says her son came home upset after hearing that two weeks into the school year, he was getting a new teacher and new classmates.
According to a letter he brought home on Thursday, his teacher is one of two from Harbour Landing School being reassigned by the Regina public school division to meet the demand for online learning during the coronavirus pandemic.
“You start students with the stress of new rules, new protocols, new procedures,” she said. “You talk about not mingling, keeping your cohorts small. And then two weeks into school, were going to displace 45 students into new classrooms?
“It just contracts everything that we’re trying to teach our children.”
Regina Public Schools director of education Greg Enion says staff reassignments happen every year once the board gets a sense of enrolment levels.
This year feels different because it is different with 2,200 students signed up to study virtually, Enion said.
“We had to make a decision to try to balance the class sizes at e-learning as well as balance our class sizes at our school levels,” Enion said.
Twenty-five teachers have been pulled from their in-class assignments across the school division’s 41 elementary schools to support the online courses.
Enion said they are in addition to the 28 the board hired with the provincial funding announced earlier this month to delivering e-learning. In total, 66 teachers are now working with students virtually.
Without the reassignments, online teachers would be left to grapple with classes of 50 to 60 students, he said.
The Regina Public school board’s average class size is 22. Its ceiling is 24.5.
Even with these reallocations, class sizes are still “at a quite acceptable level,” Enion said.
Saskatchewan Education Minister Gordon Wyant estimates 90 per cent of children have gone to school in-person. He adds that he has indication that many more students who are online learning right now could find themselves back in the buildings, once their parents are confident with what’s in place to protect them.
He noted that ongoing conversations around e-learning and that the province with the school division will continue to monitor and evaluate the effort.
While Eisler said she understands there are a lot of moving pieces with reopening schools, the communication around and timing of this move are frustrating for her family.
“I’m not really sure what the best solution is. I just think that better planning right from the get-go should have taken place,” she said.
Eisler said her son expected to meet his teacher and new class on Friday.
— With files from Global’s Connor O’Donovan