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Lethbridge students back in the classroom after weeks of online learning

A photo taken inside Sister Annata Brockman Catholic School in Edmonton on Sept. 2, 2020. Eric Beck/ Global News

As a mother of four, Share Thomas says she’s been able to see how Lethbridge schools — from kindergarten to high school — cope with the changes of COVID-19 restrictions first hand. 

With her children back in online classes this week, she says it’s been a much smoother process than the initial transition.

“This time around has been a lot better than spring of last year,” Thomas said Tuesday. “We’ve gotten so much information. Especially from the elementary school teachers. They’re unbelievable in the things they’ve been able to do and how clear they’ve been on what’s expected. The high school and the middle school have been great too, making sure parents at least have resources and people to talk to.”

Read more: Lethbridge schools hurry to prepare for switch to online learning

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Lethbridge schools hurry to prepare for switch to online – Nov 25, 2020

 

Alberta Teachers Association President Jason Schilling says that the added ease for parents and students equates to overwhelmed teachers, who continue to work unprecedented overtime hours, and report continually high levels of stress and exhaustion.

“That [reported] exhaustion percentage has been mid- to high-90s throughout the entire pandemic,” Schilling said. “And so teachers are doing a lot of that extra work to make sure that the school year runs smoothly. And that’s why we keep saying they need more support because I worry about the sustainability of the system.”

He says they’ve heard from teachers who share the concerns of parents and students — worrying that in-person classes could at any time be shifted back to online in the upcoming semester without warning.

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“We want schools to stay open,” he said. “We want to be in schools with our students.”

Read more: 9 out of 10 teachers say they face violence, bullying in Alberta schools: ATA survey

Thomas says she’s noticed the difference in her children when switching between online and in-person learning.

“As they’ve been physically in school, their marks have been fine,” Thomas explained. “Their confidence and their energy levels have been good. But the second they get taken out I’ve seen a dramatic drop in especially high school marks. I don’t know how those high school students do it, I think it’s been the hardest on them.”

Read more: More than 80% of students in the Lethbridge School Division will learn in-classroom: parent survey results

But she says she’s grateful for the teachers keeping things rolling through it all.

“I know it’s 30 times harder for them doing it online than it is in person,” Thomas said. “So I’m sure grateful for them.”

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