As Ontario schools remain closed due to the COVID-19 virus, teacher-led learning within the area’s two English language school boards has begun in earnest this week.
Rose Burton Spohn, Huron-Superior Catholic District School Board (H-SCDSB) director of education, in an email to SooToday, stated all the board’s teachers have been asked to select a platform for online delivery of instruction, communication with parents of students and to link up with other board employees with whom they would normally work, such as early childhood educators and educational assistants, to make sure the learning from home process rolls out smoothly.
Burton Spohn said Huron-Superior teachers have, for the past two weeks, worked to put together digital resources and planning lessons for their students.
Teachers with the H-SCDSB’s curriculum and special education departments have also prepared materials and posted them on the board’s website for families to use with the help of the board’s communications department.
The board has also been working with Algoma and Huron-Superior Transportation Services (AHSTS) to deliver food items and digital devices to those who require them.
Burton Spohn stated approximately 500 Chromebooks and other digital devices were safely delivered to the doorsteps of families April 3 and April 6, anticipating more deliveries of digital devices and other supplies on Thursday, enabling students to be equipped with those items before the Easter weekend.
“Our Information Technology Department, senior team, school administrators, and school secretaries have all played a crucial role in getting technology into students hands in a timely manner,” Burton Spohn wrote.
A note from the board will be sent to parents at home soon, providing additional information about technical support for parents who may require it and about resources for students who do not have access to the internet at home, Burton Spohn added.
Meanwhile, Algoma District School Board (ADSB) officials have been communicating with parents regarding online learning, providing a link with information on the board’s website pertaining to course specific resources from March 23 to April 9, with new resources to be added each week.
An April 5 letter from the ADSB to parents states the board is “moving as quickly as we can to determine needs and how we can best provide learning materials for all learners...we will be prioritizing the access of technology to students, considering factors such as grade (graduating students will be first priority), special education needs and students who have no access to a computer at home.”
The ADSB stated it is committed to getting learning materials to students and families without internet access or with limited access to it in some geographical areas, including the delivery of educational packages with the help of volunteers, school buses, by mail or courier.
The provincial government has stated Ontario students won’t return to class until at least May 4, given the COVID-19 pandemic.