August 8, 2020

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Schools study options to welcome students this fall

Inside the Seven Oaks School Division, superintendent Brian O’Leary said Friday the tentative plan is to have students in crowded high schools attend in-person classes every other day. If classes are split in half, likely alphabetically, students at home will be required to tune-in to live classes; in preparation, the north Winnipeg division has already installed webcams in classrooms.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Inside the Seven Oaks School Division, superintendent Brian O’Leary said Friday the tentative plan is to have students in crowded high schools attend in-person classes every other day. If classes are split in half, likely alphabetically, students at home will be required to tune-in to live classes; in preparation, the north Winnipeg division has already installed webcams in classrooms.

With five weeks left until the school year starts, leaders are tailoring their pandemic plans to the province’s new guidelines — with everything from supplied masks to community centre classrooms up for consideration.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said this week it’s inevitable there will be variance between schools, given their unique spaces and student populations, but all students will have an opportunity to learn in physical classrooms starting Sept. 8.

For K-8 students and students with disabilities, classroom learning will be full-time. High schoolers will be able to learn in school for at least two days per week, a minimum requirement that gives populated schools room to ensure physical distancing is possible.

Inside the Seven Oaks School Division, superintendent Brian O’Leary said Friday the tentative plan is to have students in crowded high schools attend in-person classes every other day. If classes are split in half, likely alphabetically, students at home will be required to tune-in to live classes; in preparation, the north Winnipeg division has already installed webcams in classrooms.

With five weeks left until the school year starts, leaders are tailoring their pandemic plans to the province’s new guidelines — with everything from supplied masks to community centre classrooms up for consideration.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

With five weeks left until the school year starts, leaders are tailoring their pandemic plans to the province’s new guidelines — with everything from supplied masks to community centre classrooms up for consideration.

"Too many high school students were becoming nocturnal beings," O’Leary said. During the spring remote learning period, high schoolers often submitted assignments overnight, he said.

There will be discussions in the coming weeks about mask-wearing and whether they'll supply older students with masks at Garden City Collegiate, Maples Collegiate, West Kildonan Collegiate, Maples Met School and Seven Oaks Met School, O'Leary said.

Divisions are expected to present their individual designs by mid-August.

"It’s daunting, but it’s also exciting to think that we are going to be in a position to see students and teachers come back to school and carry on with learning in a school environment," said Sandy Nemeth, chairwoman of the Louis Riel School Division.

Students in the southeast Winnipeg division can expect an emphasis on outdoor and land-based learning, said superintendent Christian Michalik. The curriculum is being designed or more outdoor lessons with infrastructure, such as trees and berms, to facilitate it.

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said this week it’s inevitable there will be variance between schools, given their unique spaces and student populations, but all students will have an opportunity to learn in physical classrooms starting Sept. 8.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen said this week it’s inevitable there will be variance between schools, given their unique spaces and student populations, but all students will have an opportunity to learn in physical classrooms starting Sept. 8.

At schools like Collège Jeanne-Sauvé, with forested areas nearby, there will be opportunities for "forest school," otherwise known as purposeful learning in natural spaces, he said.

Other options include using community centres as schools and transferring students from crowded schools to emptier, neighbouring ones. Local families can expect more surveys throughout August on just about everything, Michalik said.

As divisions finalize plans, one inclusive education expert is asking them to consider the needs of their most vulnerable learners.

"We need to be thinking about our students with special education needs and their right to an education," said Nadine Bartlett, an instructor at the University of Manitoba. "Having been away for so long, they’re going to need transition supports."

Bartlett has been surveying dozens of families of students with disabilities about their pandemic learning experiences in recent weeks.

With the potential for future learning during a lockdown, there should be guidelines set for a minimum number of direct-contact hours between teachers and students weekly, she said, and plans in place for ongoing clinician services if school is disrupted again.

maggie.macintosh@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @macintoshmaggie

Maggie Macintosh

Maggie Macintosh
Reporter

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.

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