LAKELAND – Parents and students in the Lakeland Catholic School Division (LCSD) know their options for back-to-school after the release of the division's re-entry plan.
LCSD created the parent/guardian handbook to outline the online and in-class learning options students have, along with outlining what re-entry looks like in their schools.
Deputy superintendent Pamela Guilbault noted it was important for the division to provide families with multiple scenarios to choose from.
“We recognize the difficulty that the circumstances present in this time, and we understand that if we didn’t present the choice to our families that we would be marginalizing and isolating students that had the right to LCSD education,” she explained, adding students can also switch learning styles if their original choice isn’t working out.
“You might start off with online learning or start with in-person learning and it might go either way, but then you might find out that you come up against a barrier to that particular type of learning choice so you might just switch. You talk with your principal, notify them via (email), and at the report card date, you can switch over. That’s the timeline that we’ve given.”
Lakeland Catholic's online learning will allow students to remain enrolled at their original school while receiving course instruction through online instruction. For students that choose to continue learning from home in September, the division has outlined three online learning options.
While all three options included one-hour of daily instruction with a live teacher, students can choose to complete all assignments on a computer, be provided with print material that will then be dropped off at the school, or a blend of the two. A suggested timeline will also be provided to parents of at-home learners to help them progress at the recommended pace.
According to Guilbault, specific teachers will be assigned to assist students during certain times of the day and will be consistent throughout their district.
“All of the students will be progressing through that same curriculum at the same time. That’s so there’s consistency and our families and students can be assured that we’re all receiving the same high-quality learning.”
Unlike the previous at-home learning that happened when schools were closed in March, the LCSD online learning will require students to meet all the outcomes in the programs of study and they will be evaluated just as they would if they were participating at in-person classes.
For those who choose to return to in-class learning, LCSD has implemented a staggered start to the school year.
Students with last names starting with A to M will head back into the classroom on Sept. 1 and 3, while the remaining students will go on Sept. 2 and 4.
“(It's to give) our staff and students a chance to get orientated to the new procedures and protocols that we have in place to keep them safe, keep them feeling comfortable, and reassured for what’s going to happen,” noted Guilbault.
Increased healthy and safety measures have been implemented when it comes to cleaning the schools, including frequently sanitizing high-touch surfaces such as water fountains or door handles, washrooms, high traffic areas, and classrooms.
Lockers and cubbies will be assigned, there will be no sharing of personal storage spaces, and pupils are encouraged to minimize the number of belongings they bring to school with them.
The handbook explains that students may be assigned a particular washroom depending on the size of the school and there will be a maximum number of occupants allowed at one time.
Physical distancing will be encouraged when possible, hand-sanitizing stations will be available, and hand washing hygiene will also be reviewed.
As water fountains present a challenge in the effort to reduce transmission of COVID-19, water bottle filling stations have been installed and students will be encouraged to bring water bottles. Water fountains won’t be available for their traditional use.
Students will be put into cohorts in order to decrease the number of close contacts within the school.
“Students are staying in the classroom and our teachers are allocated to one class from kindergarten to Grade 8,” noted Guilbault. “Then Grade 9 and up, we’re trying to limit the number of teachers to those cohorts as much as possible.”
Masks are mandatory for Grades 4 to 12 and will be required to be worn in school and on the bus. While kindergarten to Grade 3 students won’t have to wear them, they will be encouraged to do so.
There will be assigned seating for students that take the bus, with only youth from the same households sharing seats.
Buses will be cleaned according to COVID-19 protocols, including increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high-touch services, after each run.
Guilbault stressed that LCSD’s main priority is the health and safety of their students, teachers, and staff.