BONNYVILLE – Virtual learning will still be offered to students in Northern Lights Public Schools (NLPS) during the upcoming school year.
Jimmi Lou Irvine, associate superintendent for student services and Indigenous relations for the division, said they will be continuing to offer Learn Together Anywhere (LTA) to those who are interested.
“At this time, we feel we have adequate interest to offer this type of programming moving into the 2021/22 school year,” she told the board of trustees during their April 14 meeting. “We’re going to work to action that out with regards to staffing, school status, and all of those sorts of things moving forward.
NLPS engaged with their families currently enrolled in the LTA program to see what their intentions are for the upcoming school year.
According to Irvine, over 60 students have confirmed their interest in sticking with it.
“We also have some students that have said ‘nope, we did it this year and we’re going back to our traditional schools.’ But we also have another 62 students that have said ‘we’re unsure what we want. It’s really going to depend on where we’re at with the pandemic and if we still see, or if we still assume, there’s some sort of risk, we want to return to this virtual-type of learning,’” she detailed. “With those types of numbers, we know that it’s going to look different from a staffing perspective than it did this year, but we certainly wanted to offer it as an opportunity.”
Trustee Ron Young encouraged administration to get the word out to show parents there are other virtual options now that a decision has been made.
“If there’s a competition for those kids, we want to show that we’re offering a superior program and there’s a reason for them to join-in.”
One of the reasons NLPS decided to continue their LTA program was because of the positive feedback they’ve heard from parents.
“We’ve heard some real success stories from our families about the way that this program has allowed their students to be successful in this environment and even success stories based on students outside of COVID-19,” she expressed. “That some students were looking for this alternative to still continue in a classroom type of environment, not module-based, not ‘phone me if you need help,’ but daily check-ins with teachers running it like a classroom. It’s based on the belief that we have this strong program that we’re anticipating sharing that news out and inviting other students in.”
The program was launched by NLPS after parents started requesting an alternative learning environment when the province announced schools would move back to in-person learning ahead of the current school year.