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Coronavirus: Calgary public schools plan for return to assignments after spring break

Calgary public school families will have more details on continuing their child’s education during the coronavirus pandemic after the upcoming spring break, administration has said.

Last Sunday, under the recommendation of Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, in-person classes at Alberta schools were cancelled.

Since that time, school board preparations have been underway as thousands of families juggled the idea of home-schooling, working from home and balancing childcare needs.

According to the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), K-9 families were provided an email Tuesday that outlined steps they could take in the upcoming two weeks to help manage home learning.

“Class cancellations are unusual and challenging events.  During this short period before spring break, we encourage families to maintain a balanced and consistent routine for children; including regular sleeping and eating times, breaks for activity and outdoor time, and healthy boundaries on screen time. After spring break, additional learning resources and activities will be shared to support students in learning,” the email, shared with LiveWire Calgary by the CBE, said     

“Children are naturally curious learners and there are opportunities at home to engage their learning. We have created a webpage that offers a variety of educational ideas to support literacy, numeracy and wellness at home for this week. The resources are meant as suggestions only. You may choose to use the links and activities as needed over the next few days as more long-term educational programming is considered.”

Teachers have told LiveWire Calgary that this is the general message they’ve been given, but that communication has been slow. Many have been catching up on marking, classroom cleaning and updating student notes.

Teachers have also told us they’ve been given the go-ahead to begin communication with families in preparation for the resumption of classwork after spring break.

High school core classes in online portal

According to the CBE, Grades 10-12 classes will have core classes available on the Brightspace (D2L) system. This system allows teachers to provide lessons to students through an online portal. The students can submit the assignments through that portal and teachers can provide feedback and assign a grade.

The task now is getting everyone connected to the system, the CBE said.

“We need to ensure stability of the online environment for the 30,000 plus students who will be newly accessing it,” read an email from the CBE.

“For students with limited access to technology, we are exploring ways in which we can make print materials available, while still following health guidelines. We will be offering high school students and families a variety of educational resources to support short-term, independent review and exploration.”