Saskatoon Public Schools
Overall, how have you changed your model to continue delivering training/instruction to students?
When things return to normal, will you be keeping any of the changes you’ve made to providing training/instruction?
From the start of the pandemic, Saskatoon Public Schools has remained committed to making decisions with the safety of students and staff members as the priority. With the lockdown of schools in March, our school division had to swiftly move to remote learning. This meant not only setting up our more than 2,600 staff members for working and teaching from home, but to support our more than 26,000 students and their families to adapt to learning at home. A shift this massive would have normally required a year’s worth of planning, but our school division did it within two weeks.
The pandemic has led to the full implementation of K-12 education through our Online Learning Centre, which previously only offered courses from Gr. 10-12. This was another massive shift in our work but one that was made possible through the innovative thinking of our educators and operational support of our information services staff. Online learning, especially for our youngest learners, relies on the engagement and support of families at home. While every school day includes a few hours of synchronous learning with the teacher, there is an equal portion of activities and assignments for students to complete on their own. Through online learning, and the experiences of our in-school teachers making connections with families virtually, our school division has a greater understanding of parent engagement in their child’s learning. Unquestionably, this is an area that Saskatoon Public Schools hopes to build on as we consider our post-pandemic operations.
How have you adapted to deliver some of your more “hands on” programs in light of COVID restrictions? With the reopening of schools in September, every aspect of school operations that staff members would do by rote needed to be reimagined. Staggered recess and lunch times were scheduled, school assemblies were conducted via Zoom, lessons moved outside, hand sanitizer took up residence beside pencil sharpeners, and virtual connections to families were fostered. Different ages of students provided different challenges. However, the return to the routine of the school day and to connecting with classmates and school staff has been overwhelmingly positive for students.
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