After months learning at home, students are in the midst of preparing to return to the classroom.
A return to the classroom is encouraged by the school boards, as in-person learning is the best model for educating children, according to Kurt Sacher, superintendent of schools for Chinook’s Edge.
“We know that in-class learning is the best option for our students, and where possible what we are encouraging, but we know there will be a number of parents who aren’t comfortable sending their kids back to school right now,” said Sacher.
Sacher says he and the team at Chinook’s Edge have been speaking with parents about their concerns and trying to alleviate them where they are able.
Where concerns still exists, and parents would prefer to keep kids at home for now, he says at-home learning will be made available.
Kathleen Finnigan, acting superintendent of schools with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, says at-home learning is different from homeschooling.
At-home learning means the student will stay enrolled with their school division, they will be taught the Alberta curriculum by a teacher in the school district. In this instance the parent is there to guide and assist the teacher.
Homeschooling on the other hand, has the parent act as the teacher, using the curriculum that best suits their family.
“I know a lot of parents are looking at home learning options, it is important to know it will look different from what in March,” said Finnigan.
Students in both school divisions will have the same classes and learning opportunities, whether they are learning from home or in the classroom.
“We won’t be using the same model that was used from March to June, it will be to whole course load,” said Sacher.
Both Sacher and Finnigan expect they will see teachers continue to use resources like Google Classroom to sustain learning moving forward, but expect different teachers will be in charge of at-home learning.
“It is unrealistic to have teachers do both in class and distance learning at the same time moving forward,” said Sacher, adding the adding workload would lead to mental health problems and teacher burn out.
Both school districts are looking into their options for at-home learning and are developing a plan for students moving forward.
Parents from both school districts have been given a form to fill out about returning to in-class learning, which will help develop plans for at-home learning.
“We as a school division have the responsibility to help our students learn. We want to find a way to make face-to-face learning work, but will look at our options to best help our students,” said Sacher.