By Dale Woodard on November 26, 2020.
The Lethbridge School Division is making the necessary adjustments following the Government of Alberta’s announcement of mandatory restrictions for schools on Tuesday as COVID-19 numbers in the province continue to climb.
Starting Monday, students in Grade 7 to Grade 12 will move to at-home learning.
Students and staff will have their scheduled Christmas break following the last day of class on Dec. 18 and the first day of class on Jan. 4 will commence as scheduled with at-home delivery.
Grades K-6 students – including Early Education Program – will continue in-person learning until Dec. 18.
Following the scheduled Christmas break, classes will be delivered at home using online delivery from Jan. 4-8.
As of Wednesday, all students will resume in-person classes Jan. 11.
“The province has instituted some health measures (Tuesday) and some of those restrictions apply to the school community,” said Lethbridge School Division superintendent Cheryl Gilmore Wednesday morning. “We have put some communication out on our website so parents are knowledgeable about what will be happening over the next little while and in communication to our staff. For us, I think it’s fairly straight forward in terms of what we need to do. Grades 7 to 12 starting Monday are no longer in school and learning will occur at home.”
Gilmore said for some schools, Monday will be used as a transition dayÊto make sure families are connected with technology and if there are a re-assignment of teachers due to different scheduling.
“Those parents will know from school communication if their classes will be starting on Monday or Tuesday. For some of our schools it means logistics in reassignment and just making sure our students have navigated all of the technology,” she said.
For middle schools, Grade 6 students will continue to be bused to school.
“For our elementary and early-learners, kindergarten to Grade 6 after the Christmas break their classes will be at-home learning for one week following the break,” said Gilmore. “The first day of that, Jan. 4, will be non-instructional in terms of direct teaching because our teachers will be trying to connect with families and students and making sure everyone is set up. Then the Tuesday through to Friday they’ll be set up.”
Gilmore noted the flexibility of the school division staff from Grades 7 to 12 in changing instructional delivery.
“Some of those teachers have experienced at-home learning and online teaching because they’ve been quarantined with their classes. For some, they experienced it in the spring and certainly we’ve been providing support and professional learning. But for some schools it will take this Monday to get the logistics in place and make this move.”
As for the province’s decision on Tuesday, Gilmore said she has no judgment about health measures.
“They’re the health system and they’re the experts,” she said. “I believe our school systems have been doing incredibly well. I can say up to this point — and not to say it won’t happen – we haven’t had any in-school transmission of COVID-19, that any cases in our school have been from community and classes quarantined as such.”
The division announced Wednesday that Gilbert Paterson Middle School is has been placed on Watch status with five COVID-19 cases.
A noteworthy point of Tuesday’s announcement was optionalÊdiploma examsÊfor high school students and staff for rest of the school year.
Students and their families can choose whether to write an exam or receive an exemption for the January, April, June and August 2021 exams.
“That’s a good news story for our students, that students would have a choice of writing their diploma exams and those count for 30 per cent,” said Gilmore. “I say it’s really good news for our students because there has been a variance of interruption for students whether or not they’ve been quarantined. Certainly, our teachers have tried to make instruction as seamless as possible with online learning when that happens.
“But at the same time the variance in how we’re delivering instruction of classes looks different. I think it’s good our students can have a choice. Certainly, our young men and women in our high schools have enough stress as it is in terms of making sure they’re meeting the class outcomes and completing their courses. The teachers are in a good position, they know their students and we have the classroom assessment piece to determine final grades.”
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