Greetings Dawn-Euphemia Families,
I am writing to you to convey to you not just the basic information you need to have but also to offer some words of support about navigating the circumstances in which we now find ourselves.
What has happened globally and what is happening now in our own country and communities is a lot to process. Depending on how closely you follow world news or science and medical communities you may have been aware of the possibilities of what COVID-19 could mean as early as January, however, for most of us this is something that really only started to hit home shortly before March Break. I doubt that the week prior to March Break many of us could fully conceptualize where we find ourselves today.
Our current situation is so full of NEW. New routines, new rules, new priorities. The Ministry of Education introduced the Learn at Home Portal to support remote learning during the initial two week closure of schools. As the closure has now been extended for another full month our staff have been working hard to establish new means of supporting students in the current setting. Make no mistake, the setting is not ideal for anyone but providing opportunities for learning is our priority and will continue as our staff determine how to best support our students.
Our current setting is heavily affected by the unknown and ever-evolving measures our federal, provincial and municipal governments must take to minimize the spread of COVID-19. We have received a significant amount of information and direction at the school level over the past few days. We want to ensure that we are not overwhelming students and families and so we are making an effort to take our time as we explore the possibilities, challenges and opportunities involved in creating a remote learning platform for students.
I will be working to update and compile information here to help support staff and students. We are very aware that many parents may now find themselves working from home, managing busy families and trying to support learning all at the same time. Many of you may be working outside of the home as essential services or even living away from your families as you work the frontlines in health care. We are so grateful for the sacrifices being made to help keep our communities as safe as possible and appreciative of the difficult challenges everyone is currently facing. As mentioned earlier, our job in this troubled time will continue to be to provide learning opportunities for students. These learning opportunities will look different from what you will be accustomed to. For students in Grades 7 & 8 we may be able to provide activities and supports in formats you are familiar with through previous experiences with Google Classroom and using technology to support learning but as we move towards our younger students much of this will vary from familiar classroom approaches. At this time, teachers will planning with consideration for the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Education recommending hours per week of work for various ages. It is important to note that activities may take much longer at home than they typically would at school and different students may require different amounts of time and support. Teachers will be providing learning opportunities for their students having taken into consideration factors such as time, student readiness and accessibility. We encourage you to explore this learning at your own pace and maintain open lines of communication with teachers. Please do not hesitate to ask questions. We encourage you to reach out for clarification or for 'where to next' if you are looking for material to explore with your child that is additional to what the teacher has provided.
We ask that you bear with us as we navigate this new format from our end as well. Education staff are also challenged with similar home settings where they are working from home to fill a role in a completely new way (in this case providing learning and interaction for students without the traditional face to face setting), participating in staff meetings and professional development, managing families supporting remote learning for their own children.
Additionally, I know you may come across information stating that student work is will be assessed and I think it is important to offer some clarification here. Assessment can mean a variety of things – and at this point for our students at Dawn Euphemia what it is NOT going to mean marking student work with levels, letter or number grades. For the moment, though this may need to change in the future, we will be focusing on assessment from previous student work and items shared through remote learning to determine what further learning opportunities will be provided for students based on their needs (examples of this would be observations and notes taken for teacher reference only to plan future activities). Assessment shared with students will be in forms that will support student engagement and reflection as they work through learning opportunities and apply new information to further their learning in future activities. This assessment is most likely to take the form of conversations, actionable feedback, next steps and guided self-assessments.
I hope that this information is of some assistance in putting you at ease as we start this new journey.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if I can be of some assistance to support your students as they begin in this remote learning format with their teachers.