N.S. students who stay home will receive learning materials from teachers
A week after in-person learning resumed in Nova Scotia, teachers are being told that in addition to in-class learning, they must also provide lessons for students who choose to stay home during the latest spike in COVID-19 cases.
A letter was sent to teachers Saturday night from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Education Minister Becky Druhan said the letter was meant to emphasize one overall point.
"The students who need to be absent right now are to have access to learning materials,” said Druhan.
The email also included, "...teachers are asked to make work and assignments available to families whose children are home at this time.”
Druhan said teachers will not mix online teaching with in-class learning. She wants teachers to share assignments with students via email, other forms of online delivery or even through printed materials.
“We are not asking teachers to do anything that they don’t do normally. Or prepare any materials that they normally wouldn't be preparing anyway for in-class work," said Druhan. "It is not a hybrid model.”
According to Nova Scotia Teachers Union President Paul Wozney, many teachers were unhappy to receive the email. Beyond that he has some concerns.
"Can a kid remain on pace with their in-person peers?" asked Wozney who wants more information on the exact teaching plan going forward.
On the subject of a possible hybrid learning model, his message to the province is clear.
“It sets off a lot of warning bells and a lot of people are worried about what it could mean," said Wozney who added combined in-class and online learning did not work in Ontario.
“Parents hated it, students hated it and staff hated it," he said.
Last week Brittany Snow kept both of her children home from school. On the one hand, Snow applauds this latest move by the Education Minister.
“I think it is important to support families who have to choose to be at home," said Snow. "Whether it is their children or somebody live with who is immunocompromised.”
However, Snow has concern for teachers who are already facing mounting work-loads.
“They are burnt out just like most of us, so they are not going to be able to do this well," said Snow. "It is setting them up for an impossible task.”
Grade 12 student Jenna Kedy was happy to hear teachers will provide learning for students who stay home.
“I think that should always have been a thing. Even before COVID," said Kedy. "Kids with chronic illnesses or some thing that happened in a family; there’s always been a reason why kids have had to miss time.”
Kedy is still not sure if she will choose at-home or in-class learning.
“We are starting a new semester, so I feel a bit more pressure to go back," said Kedy. "There is so much the teachers can put online, but there are things that might not be translated to the internet.”
More information will be made available to Nova Scotia teachers in the coming days, outlining how to provide learning materials for students at home.
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