With the province and the world in the midst of a pandemic, life has changed. In the blink of an eye, educators have been forced to adapt the way they teach and students the way they learn. As part of its learning continuity plan, the Upper Grand District School Board (UGDSB) launched its Learning at Home distance learning program at the beginning of April. With the assistance of support staff, this teacher-led distance learning model focuses on maintaining connections with students, during this unprecedented time.
UGDSB recognizes that its Learning at Home program is not ideal for every student. Therefore, to ensure every student has an opportunity to succeed, it has made available a variety of resources for both parents and students. Supporting Online Learning is a webpage that has been developed to provide tips on and examples of routines and schedules, which families can incorporate into their own daily routine. As well, UGDSB is offering support in a variety of areas including, but not limited to, technology, special education and general distance learning needs.
While many students have technology readily available to them, many do not. The school district is working hard to ensure that every student has equal opportunity to learn during the pandemic. In early April, the Board delivered thousands of Chromebook computers to students who indicated they did not have access to technology. The school board is also exploring alternative ways for students to access the Internet in areas where it is limited or not available.
To meet students’ needs, UGDSB is offering home delivery service for those who require printed materials in partnership with the board’s bus operators across the district. Students not only receive packages from their teachers each week, but they also have the opportunity to return completed work at the same time.
For students with Individual Education Plans or learning needs that differ from their peers, UGDSB has created a webpage with useful links for parents and students. Each of the links lead to a section designed to offer support to students with varying learning needs. The resources and suggestions found on the Parent Resources and Information page aim to complement the resources and tools provided by classroom teachers.
While the Learning at Home program continues to evolve, UGDSB is committed to supporting its students’ mental health and well-being. While schools remain closed to students, children of all ages may experience stress and anxiety during this challenging time. Parents and students are encouraged to visit the school district’s Mental Health Resources page, which offers strategies and coping skills through helpful documents and videos that can be viewed as family.
No one is sure how much longer students and parents will be required to learn and work from home. In the meantime, UGDSB is encouraging its community to try and build a daily routine. Routine provides a comforting structure for both parents and students alike. Equally important is finding the time to spend as a family, building in breaks during the day and asking children to communicate how they’re feeling about the pandemic and its effect on their lives. Above all, it’s crucial to remember that this experience is about connection, not perfection.
For further details, please visit the UGDSB’s Learning at Home website.