SUDBURY – With the cancellation of the remainder of the school year by the province of Ontario due to further concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rainbow District School Board has cancelled examinations and graduation ceremonies. Meanwhile, online learning will continue and students will receive a report card.
As was reported in last week’s Recorder, the minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced May 19 that schools would remain closed until the end of June.
Online learning will continue until the end of the year as usual for students in the region, and this programming could extend into the summer.
“With the extension of school closures, we have now reached the mid-point of our journey. We have completed six weeks of teacher-led distance learning and have six weeks to go,” Norm Blaseg, director of education for the RDSB, said in a May 20 letter to parents of students within the school board.
Mr. Blaseg explained, “we have the technology, the team, the talent and the tenacity to maintain the momentum. We will work diligently to ensure students gain critical knowledge and skills for success. We invite students and families to, once again, take a deep breath and stay the course.” He explained teacher-led distance learning will continue until June 26, the last day of school. To maximize learning, secondary exams have been replaced with culminating activities. “All students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, will receive report cards at year end.”
In a separate letter on distance learning, dated May 15, Mr. Blaseg explained, “as a I reflect on how far we have come in a short period of time, I am most grateful for the guidance from public health, the leadership of trustees and school administrators, the efforts of teachers and support staff, and the response from students and families.”
“We have worked in partnership to make the best of learning together while safely apart and can be proud of how much we have accomplished since the extension of school closures. We safely distributed over 2,000 devices from chromebooks to laptops and continue to provide paper-based assignments for some 300 students to ensure continuity of learning,” continued Mr. Blaseg.
“Teachers and support staff are connecting with students daily for reading, writing, math, physical activity, creativity, subject-based learning and wellness check-ins to say hello and see how everyone is doing. Health and safety remains our first and foremost priority,” wrote Mr. Blaseg.
He explained that students have been engaged with their teachers in real time learning through livestreaming, two-way dialogue and applications like Seesaw, Google Docs, Slides, and Read and Write. Pre-recorded video lessons and online assignments are also being provided with ongoing teacher feedback. “Collaboration and communication are the foundation for student success.”
“Distance learning has given parents/guardians a unique opportunity to observe their children’s progress and, more importantly, to support their learning at home,” wrote Mr. Blaseg. “But we also know this transition has not been easy for everyone. No student will be adversely affected due to school closures. We are here to help in any way we can. Please continue to reach out to school administrators, teachers and support staff if your child requires assistance.”
“For the class of 2020 whose destination is graduation, please remember that we will celebrate this milestone with you as plans progress—always with safety first,” continued Mr. Blaseg. He pointed out, in the interim the board is currently developing protocols with public health to allow for the safe collection and distribution of student personal belongings at school, such as items in lockers. Schools will communicate directly with students and families to facilitate this process.”