Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
As Island teachers prepare to deliver classwork on Monday, some P.E.I. schoolchildren have already been doing their lessons at home.
P.E.I. public school students have not been in class since March 13 when March break was set to begin. A few days later, the Department of Education announced schools would stay closed for an additional two weeks. That has since been extended to May 11 at the earliest.
This week, Education Minister Brad Trivers announced teachers will lead modified classes beginning April 6.
But Chase McLeod, 12, a Grade 7 student, has already been working from home.
On Friday, March 13, his school, The Mount Academy in Charlottetown, sent all students home and flipped to an at-home system for the rest of the pandemic.
The decision was made to protect not only the students but the older residents at the Mount long-term care home and the businesses in the same building.
RAPIDLY CHANGING SCHOOL YEAR
Here’s a quick look at how the P.E.I. school year has evolved since March 13
- March 14: First coronavirus (COVID-19) case on P.E.I.
- March 17: Schools and childcare centres closed until April 3
- March 16: Public health emergency declared
- March 20: Online learning activities announced
- March 27: Extension to school closures until May 11
- April 6: Teachers to roll out at-home learning
So now, Chase logs on to his school-supplied computer around 9 a.m. to catch the day’s assignments.
“It’s the same, kind of," said Chase.
"We do the same work, it’s just you can’t talk to teachers in the same way. We use Google Hangouts."
He misses his classmates, though. They had a conference call last week.
“It was fun because we stayed on the call for like an hour,” said Chase.
The Mount, a sports-focused private school, has already incorporated a lot of e-learning to accommodate its travelling athletes.
Chase’s advice for success? Get focused — and leave devices in a different room.
“Take an hour or two and not have any distractions and finish your work. You’ll probably be finished early,” he said.
Chase’s dad, Paul McLeod, says sticking to a familiar routine is important.
“Structure is probably the best thing. That was encouraged by the school, to kind of have the same rhythm,” he said.
LEARNING AT HOME
For kindergarten to Grade 9, literacy and numeracy will be the priority. Students will be provided with activities and teaching according to their grade level.
- Kindergarten - 30 minutes of instruction and learning materials daily.
- Primary - 45 minutes of instruction and learning materials daily.
- Elementary - 60 minutes of instruction and learning materials daily.
- Intermediate - 90 minutes literacy, numeracy, social studies and science.
- High school - no more than two hours of instruction and learning materials per course each week, including instructional, study and practice time.
Source: Tammy Hubley-Little, director of English education programs and services
P.E.I.’s public school teachers will take the lead on home learning beginning on Monday.
The situation is new for everyone, said Trivers.
“We are trying to find the right balance between ensuring learning continues for students and not overwhelming families during these difficult times.”
Teachers will continue with a pared-down version of the provincial curriculum, said Tammy Hubley-Little, director of English education programs and services.
“We’ve identified key learnings for the next five weeks that we want teachers to work on with their students,” she said.
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