LAKELAND – Summer school at Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) is going to look “vastly different” this year.
According to associate superintendent of teaching and learning Jimmi Lou Irvine, a majority of learning will be done online while there will be opportunities for students to connect face-to-face with teachers on an as-needed basis.
“Summer school will certainly appeal to students who wish to take a course either on their own time and increase their understanding and their level of achievement, but it also still appeals to those students who are trying to work ahead,” Irvine told the Nouvelle.
With roughly 90 students registered, Irvine said it was a decrease from what they typically see for summer school and some courses may not have enough interest to run that class.
“We might have one student interested in the class, and then we wouldn’t be able to offer it,” she noted.
Teachers will be working out of the Cold Lake and Lac La Biche NLPS facilities, along with the Bonnyville and District Centennial Centre for July. They will be available during regular school hours for any inquiries students may have, but the materials will be available to be accessed whenever a pupil needs them.
“We also have the possibility for students to book in to have tutorial sessions or write assessments in our buildings on-site, which will be by appointment and booked in advance so we can monitor the number of individuals in the building to make sure that appropriate cleaning has taken place and all of those sort of things,” Irvine explained.
In order to offer in-class learning this year, Irvine explained there needed to be a minimum number of students interested in the course in Bonnyville, Cold Lake, or Lac La Biche.
“For example, we would have had to have 12 to 15 students taking an English class to offer an on-site English class,” Irvine detailed. “When we don't have those numbers at any one site we can still offer an English program, but we have to combine kids from all three areas to make it viable.”
When in-person classes were cancelled in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, that threw a wrench into NLPS’ planning for summer school.
Irvine said they had to wait and see what could be offered, and the local school division received direction on June 10 from Alberta Education on how they could proceed.
“Since then, we’ve been looking forward to a plan to offer summer programming and seeing what that will look like based on student registration and staffing and all of those variables.”
With there still being a number of unknowns surrounding education for the 2020/21 school year, Irvine believes summer school will allow NLPS to get an idea of what re-entry will look like in the fall.
“It's giving us an opportunity to really focus on the requirements of cleaning or hygiene or all of those sorts of things. It’s giving us opportunities to run through it at three sites so when we’re opening 20-plus building in September, we’ve already had this experience and I think that that’s going to be very valuable to us. We’re going to learn a lot from even offering summer programming as we’re preparing to relaunch in August and September.”
While NLPS will be holding summer school, the Lakeland Catholic School Division (LCSD) decided against running their summer program this year.
“We have offered a summer program for the last six years whereby students work on Work Experience, Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAP), and summer internships, however, this year it’s not being offered,” LCSD communications officer Amanda Wildman said in a statement. “We have not offered core courses in a summer program before.”