Schools throughout Saskatchewan have not forgotten about their students.

That’s the message being shared as aclearer picture of how the 2019-20 school year will play out begins to take shape.
According to Chris Bruce, a Kindergarten teacher at Kopahawakenum School on Flying Dust First Nation, students now have the opportunity to continue their learning at home via homework packages and more.

“With my students, I have been delivering homework packages to them at home,” Bruce said. “I leave it on their front step, while some parents have been picking it up outside the school.”

In a recent letter to parents, Bruce explained this further, adding the need for students to maintain their studies during the COVID-19 pandemic is crucial.

“While schools are closed, we as teachers at Kopahawakenum School are committed to ensuring your child continues to learn at home,” she noted. “We are asking for your child to do homework for one hour a day from Monday to Friday, while Saturday and Sunday is optional.”

Examples of homework assignments the younger students can work on include math sheets, printing assignments, journals and more.

“We are keeping parents informed by texting or calling them,” Bruce added. “We have also created classroom Facebook pages, while the older students are using Google Docs to complete certain assignments.”

Teachers returned to work March 30, at which time staff conference calls were held to determine what steps to take next.

“Students will still advance to the next grade level based on their final mark (at the time of the school closures), but those who take part in these at-home assignments have an opportunity to bring that mark up,” Bruce said. “A number of students are already taking part, I think because they’re bored and they really do miss school.”

A similar solution is currently being developed at schools throughout Meadow Lake and area, including Carpenter High School where principal Trevor Gerwing said teachers reached out to students last week.

“The Grade 9 home room teachers made calls to the parents of their students, while we had a team of people who called all the Grades 10-12 students to figure out which classes they would like to continue learning in,” Gerwing said. “This week, the teachers are busy making plans around what the delivery of this continued learning will look like. This is a huge change from anything we have ever seen before. It’s not going to be seamless or flawless, but it’s important to continue however we possible can.”

Gerwing also reiterated Bruce’s comment about students still advancing to the next grade level.

“Every student gets at least a 50 per cent overall assessment based on their current grade,” he said. “Their marks cannot go down, but this (continued learning) will give them an opportunity to improve their marks.”

In addition to this, CHS has turned to social media for what is being described as a virtual spirit week. It kicked off Monday with students and their families encouraged to post photos of themselves in CHS clothing, while the rest of the week featured unique themes of their own.

“This whole COVID-19 situation can be psychologically hard on everyone, so this is just one way of letting the kids know we’re thinking of them and we care for them,” Gerwing said. “It makes CHS more than just a building and more of an overall idea we can all still believe in.”

by Phil Ambroziak