Nfld. & Labrador

Private school opens virtual classroom to students

Students at St. Bon's didn't really get much of a break when the province shuttered classrooms back in March, and now other students can get an online education for the next six weeks at a cost.

St. Bonaventure's College in St. John's holding online classes until end of June

St. Bonaventure's College has moved to a virtual learning environment that delivers the Newfoundland and Labrador curriculum. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Students at St. Bon's didn't get much of a break when the province shuttered classrooms in March due to COVID-19 concerns.

The private school already had an online classroom almost ready to go. 

"We were very fortunate to be part of the global Jesuit network, which already had a platform for virtual learning," the school's acting president Nancy Healey said Monday.

"We already had faculty trained and we were already offering courses on that platform."

Students from St. Bon's are now learning online. File photo. (CBC)

Healey, who is also the chair of the board at the school, said faculty and staff worked quickly and had it up and running days after schools closed. 

"For some it was a little overwhelming at first but we have supports.... Now we seem to be hitting our groove," she said.

"We've built a kind of a little network in the school very, very quickly."

Healey has spoken to teachers, students and parents who report that things are going well.

"We've been overwhelmed with the positivity that's come back," said Healey.

Nancy Healey is St. Bonaventure's College acting president. File photo. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

The school has made the decision to open up their virtual classrooms to students from outside the private college.

"We think we have the capacity to be able to include more people who would be interested in getting their children engaged and to avoid against regression," she said.

Students have to apply and go through an interview process.

They will also have to pay to learn. The six-week online program costs $950 for all K-9 students. For students in Grades 10 through 12, each course costs $250, up to a maximum of $950.

St. Bon's has opened up its online classes to the public. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Healey said the school is offering reduced rates for the children of essential workers, thanks to a bursary program and the school's endowment fund. 

"We know a lot of moms, dads are stressed right now but those that are essential workers are probably a little bit more. So if we can relieve that in some way by providing some form of routine by providing some academic engagement, [it's] for everybody's best interest in mental health," Healey said.

Healey said the school has added about 20 new students to the virtual learning program and has room for about 100, depending on what grades levels are selected. 

The school will be able to add students until mid-May and will run until June 22.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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