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Saskatchewan high school seniors rejoice at return to in-class learning, worry about learning gaps

Click to play video: 'High school seniors discuss learning gaps during COVID' High school seniors discuss learning gaps during COVID
WATCH: At home schooling has been a big learning curve for students during this pandemic. It's also greatly impacting their mental health, so it's no surprise some students are happy to be back in class. Taz Dhaliwal speaks to local high school seniors about their COVID-19 education experience. – May 4, 2021

Talia Allingham has always been an exceptional student, making the honours list year after year, but this year — her final year of high school — she’s unsure as to whether she’ll be able to achieve that same feat.

“I struggled academically with [remote learning], just because I am an in-person learner,” said Allingham, a Grade 12 student at Michael A. Riffel Catholic High School in Regina.

“Even with my academics and my ability to focus in the classroom, I struggled severely with the focus and motivation,” she added.

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Read more: COVID-19: Regina Catholic school students ask officials to re-think transition to in-class learning

Students with the Regina Public and Catholic School Divisions returned to class on Monday.

Although Allingham will be graduating this summer, she’ll be taking a year off before moving onto post-secondary education for what she calls a much-needed breather. She’s also hoping to “fall back in love with education,” after experiencing a tumultuous academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allingham says some of her friends in university have chosen to drop out because of all the ups and downs caused by an uncertain academic year, and she wants to avoid being in the same predicament.

“Mentally, it’s been hard to look to the future and to see what’s out there, because we don’t know what’s going to happen day-to-day and I know I’m taking a year off, simply because I can’t do online university.”

Allingham and her friend Zander Tait — who’s also a senior at Riffel High School — say they welcome the return to school since it’s a more conducive learning environment for them.

“I’m a very hands-on learner … just being online has been a lot harder to manage, like waking up and not having that wake-up call,” Zander said.

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Click to play video: 'Mental health tips to get you through virtual learning' Mental health tips to get you through virtual learning
Mental health tips to get you through virtual learning – Jan 11, 2021

Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation says learning gaps caused by remote education mean teachers will have some catching up to do during the next school year.

Read more: Regina kids reflect on how COVID-19 pandemic has changed their lives

“Teachers will need to circle back and make sure gaps are addressed as much as possible, given with the resources we have and the abilities we have to identify those gaps,” Maze stated.

“And that’s not just PK to 12 teachers, that also includes university teachers,” he added.

Despite all the pandemic curveballs, Allingham says this experience has made her more resilient.

“It’s been a blessing and a curse,” she said. “I think it’s prepared a lot of students to understand that life isn’t always going to be what you set it out to be, and I think that’s a huge lesson to be learned.”

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