At-home learning won't look the same for everyone
Teachers will reach out over the next few days to deliver material to students at home
With at-home learning set to begin in the coming days, education officials want parents to know that they're not expected to be teachers.
"We cannot ask parents to take the place of teachers, much like our teachers cannot replicate the in-school experience in the home," said Zoë Watson, superintendent of Anglophone School District–South.
And with so many families worried about a whole host of pandemic-related issues, "we certainly do not want to cause any additional anxiety for families right now," she said.
"These are unprecedented times, and we do not want to cause any additional stress or anxiety for families. We know that everyone is doing the very best that they can."
Watson spent most of Friday on the phone, meeting with the district's 70 principals in small groups, planning how to roll out the new learning program that was announced Thursday.
Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy said schools would remain closed for the remainder of the school year and that teachers will be reaching out shortly to begin at-home learning.
He also outlined recommendations for the amount of work students should be doing each day. For kindergarten to Grade 5, it's an hour a day; Grades 6-8, two hours; and for high school students, 2.5 hours.
But exactly what it will look like is still up in the air, say education officials.
It will also "vary by grade level, school and district," said Danielle Elliott, from Education and Early Childhood Development.
She said some teachers have already begun reaching out to families. Those who haven't yet heard from their child's teacher will over the next few days.
"Parents should wait for schools to make contact in the coming days, and if they have any questions, reach out to their school principal," said Elliott.
Some resources for anglophone schools are already available on the New Brunswick Family Resource site, while the francophone school districts are in the process of establishing their own website in the coming days, she said.
Watson said some teachers will be ready to deliver material next week, and the goal is for all teachers to reach out to students by April 13.
The content will be up to individual teachers, said Watson, although some will be working together in already established Profession Learning Communities — meaning, for example, that several Grade 5 teachers could work together to deliver similar material.
She said there are no concrete rules about how often teachers will reach out to students — some may do it more often than once a week, but the goal is for teachers to speak to their students at least once a week.
"It is important to note that over the next three months, we are concerned about students' well-being, as well as their learning, and we want them to feel that connectedness with their schools and teachers," said Watson.
Telephone support is also available from guidance counsellors in ASD-South, she added.
"Guidance staff provide an important role in our schools and we feel this support may be needed more than ever in this current situation."
For more serious issues, said Wason, students can be referred to a member of the Child and Youth Teams.
In his announcement on Thursday, Cardy said all students who were "positioned academically" to advance to the next grade in the fall will do so, and Grade 12 students poised to graduate this spring will receive diplomas.
He also said parents have a "key role" to play, but "we are not asking them to recreate a classroom in their home or take on the full role of a teacher."
These are unprecedented times, and we do not want to cause any additional stress or anxiety for families. We know that everyone is doing the very best that they can.- Zoë Watson
Watson doesn't want parents to feel any stress about their role.
In households where both parents are essential workers, even one hour of work a day may seem impossible, she said. And for those without internet service — or one computer that has to be shared between several children and parents now working from home — it may seem impossible.
"Please do not be anxious if you do not have technology," said Watson. "The district and the department are working together to find safe and healthy ways to get you some information for your children."
And while some have been anxious about at-home learning, others were anxiously waiting for it.
Watson said many parents have already reached out to educators to ask for online resources that would help families "have routine in the day, and to lessen the 'slide' that may happen if students are missing this much school."
Watson said no marks or grades will be given for the work done from home.
"If students can share their work with the teacher virtually, the teacher would give feedback to them," she said.
Students in Grades 11 and 12 have the option to receive "credits," but they'll have to provide sufficient evidence of having completed the learning outcomes of the course, explained Watson.