With schools still shut, Quebec launches online learning platform

Parents struggling to help their children keep up with their schooling now have access to a new online tool called Open School, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced Monday.

Open School online portal designed to help parents homeschooling their children in isolation

Kids play in Montreal's La Fontaine Park Monday. Quebec students may be off for the rest of the school year, and while online learning isn't mandatory, the province is offering students and their parents tools to do just that. (Charles Contant/Radio-Canada)

Parents struggling to help their children keep up with their schooling now have access to a new online tool, Quebec Education Minister Jean-François Roberge announced Monday.

Open School is an amalgamation of various free educational websites, where parents can find resources to tutor their children in everything from math and science to daily physical exercise.

It is broken up by class levels and subjects and features tools for both elementary and high school students.

According to the Education Ministry, new tools will be added to the website every week, and the site will soon feature sections dedicated to students with disabilities. The activities are entirely optional.

"Students can't go to school, so the school is coming to them," Roberge said in an interview.

Quebec has closed all schools until at least May 1 as part of efforts to contain COVID-19. 

Roberge has already said there will be no provincial exams this year, and if classes do not resume before June, students will be evaluated based on their grades so far this school year.

'We don't want to turn parents into teachers'

Roberge is also reminding parents that their children can contact teachers directly through the Allo Prof website. That service isn't new, but its hours have been extended because of the pandemic. 

"We don't want to turn parents into teachers. We want simply to give them tools to help their kids not to forget all they have learned during the school year," said Roberge.

The Open School portal announced by Education Minister Jean-François Roberge Monday offers free resources for both elementary school and high school students. (Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press)

Roberge said students will also be receiving packages of learning materials so that they can continue to learn from home.

"It's fun to stay on the couch for one day or two days, but I think even kids — even teenagers — they will be pleased to receive learning activities," said Roberge. 

The English Montreal School Board also launched its own portal for educational activities Monday, promising to update it with new activities every week.

In a release, the EMSB said the school board's teachers will begin checking in with their students this week. Next week, they will start providing additional, personalized guidance to students. That help from teachers and other resource professionals will be co-ordinated by principals. 

According to the EMSB, the ministry will be providing school boards with additional learning tools as of April 6, to be distributed to students and parents through their schools.

None of these activities will be mandatory or graded. 

Other school boards have also developed their own online learning tools. This is a list of some of them:

  • The Lester B. Pearson School Board has developed an Educational Services portal for its students. 

  • The Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board has an online space called the Learning Backpack that also has resources for families and students with disabilities. 

  • The Eastern Townships School Board has compiled learning resources as well as mental health resources for its students and their families. 

  • The Riverside School Board has also developed an optional online learning tool called Brain Boost. 

  • The Commission Scolaire de Montréal has a resource page dedicated to everyone from preschool children to high school students.

With files from Debra Arbec and Cathy Senay

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