Parents, teachers ready for back to school in June
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This article was published 26/05/2020 (1104 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
As schools prepare for students to return in a limited capacity, exhausted parents are letting out a sigh of relief.
Last week, Premier Brian Pallister announced the province would reopen schools for one-on-one tutoring and small group sessions before the end of the 2019-20 school year.
While the next phase remains in draft form, some divisions have already asked teachers to return to their respective schools as of June 1. Administrators are also currently surveying communities to find out what families are comfortable with.
Both a teacher and parent, Marika Schalla is keen to have schools partially reopen — a long-awaited development she said will allow students and teachers to reconnect. Schalla, a grades 7 and 8 science, math and Indigenous culture teacher, works in the inner city while her son attends Grade 2 in the Seven Oaks School Division.
“My students are very excited to see me, especially because I’m due in September with my second baby, so I won’t get to see them (then), and they’re super-excited to see how much I’ve grown,” Schalla said.
She’s confident her classroom will be a safe place because of the two metres of separation between desks and rigorous hand-washing and sanitizing routines. She expects the same in her son’s classroom.
“My students are very excited to see me, especially because I’m due in September with my second baby, so I won’t get to see them (then), and they’re super-excited to see how much I’ve grown.” – Marika Schalla
Sophia Ferreira has already received a detailed breakdown of what to expect for her son’s kindergarten class at Constable Edward Finney School; students have been invited to return as early as 9 a.m. Monday.
Ferreira said fewer than half her son’s classmates have accepted the invitation, so he will be able to attend in-person instruction four days a week throughout June.
While she said she doubts her five year old can resist hands-on play, she’s comfortable with precautions that include small class sizes, an emphasis on outdoor learning and barring parents from entering school at pickup time to avoid mingling.
“He was absolutely excited,” she said, recalling the moment she told her son he could go back to school, albeit with social distancing in mind.
“I don’t scare him about it, but he knows about the virus and he knows that things have to change right now.”
“He was absolutely excited.” – Sophia Ferreira, recalling the moment she told her son he could go back to school
On the other side of the city, St. James-Assiniboia School Division revealed plans Tuesday for the remainder of the school year. Families in the west Winnipeg division will soon be able to book visits for the purpose of individual and small-group support and transition meetings.
The first week of June will see grades 5, 8 and 12 students invited for 60-minute-long blocks. Additional students will be invited and asked to obtain parent permission to attend in the following weeks. There will be no more than 25 students in each building at a given time.
In a notice sent to families Tuesday, superintendent Mike Wake emphasized participation is optional and programming will evolve as families become more comfortable with the second phase of Pallister’s reopening plan.
Meanwhile, in the River-East Transcona School Division, parents have received few details about what’s to come.
Ryan Kochie, a father of four young children, is eager to find out what’s next, having spent the last two months struggling to get his oldest, a second-grader, to do schoolwork.
“Homeschooling in this pandemic is so difficult; it’s so stressful.” – Marika Schalla
“He really needs some structure and routine I don’t feel I offer,” said Kochie, who recently reopened his home daycare.
He said he felt swamped doing distance learning and taking care of his children 24-7 before he reopened the daycare.
Schalla said she’s been pleasantly surprised that all of the students she’s talked to so far are eager to return, and their parents are happy, too.
“Homeschooling in this pandemic is so difficult; it’s so stressful,” said Schalla, adding not all of her students had support at home or e-learning access.
“It’s been really eye-opening about what’s important with learning and what we should be teaching our students; I made sure to always do my mental-wellness check-ins with my students…. They liked that I made sure I wasn’t just giving them math assignment after math assignment.”
Maggie Macintosh reports on education for the Winnipeg Free Press. Funding for the Free Press education reporter comes from the Government of Canada through the Local Journalism Initiative.
Updated on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 11:35 PM CDT: Adds photo