PEI

Some schools reopening to help P.E.I. students who need individualized support, give respite to families

Designated schools on P.E.I. will be reopening to students with priority needs as the province launches a respite care program for families during COVID-19.

'Really we're here to try and provide this respite service to as many students as possible'

In a Thursday afternoon news briefing, Minister of Education Brad Trivers and director of leadership and learning Tammy Hubely-Little announced a new respite care program for students with priority needs. (Ken Linton/CBC)

Designated schools on P.E.I. will be reopening to students with priority needs as the province launches a respite care program for families during COVID-19.

The program was officially rolled out by the province on Wednesday and has already received more than 100 calls from interested parents, Minister of Education Brad Trivers said. 

"Our students have very diverse learning needs. It's important we support all students as much as we can," he said. 

Beginning May 11 designated schools will reopen to students who typically receive individualized support from educational assistants (EA) and youth service workers. 

"By bringing them back into the school, we can reconnect them with their EA or youth service worker and provide them with the structure and individualized support that they need while providing respite for their parents," Trivers said. 

Designated schools 

Trivers emphasized that all students who typically require the services of an EA or youth worker are eligible for the program.

For now, respite care will be provided at Souris Regional, Montague Regional, Morell High, Colonel Gray, Westwood Primary, Athena Consolidated, Queen Elizabeth Elementary and Westisle Composite. 

The department's director of leadership and learning Tammy Hubley-Little noted the province's education system has a significant capacity to provide support for respite care. 

Until the department knows how many families apply, she said she can't say how many students they are expecting, and there is no limit at this time. 

Students are missing their teachers and their schools, while the teachers are also missing their students.— Brad Trivers, minister of education and lifelong learning

"Really we're here to try and provide this respite service to as many students as possible," Trivers said. 

He added that should the province need to open more schools to offer the service it will.

Parents who are interested in the program are being asked to call 902-368-4997.

While school buses will remain unavailable, Trivers said alternate arrangements will be made for families who are unable to get their child to and from school.

'By bringing them back into the school, we can reconnect them with their EA or youth service worker and provide them with the structure and individualized support that they need while providing respite for their parents,' Trivers says. (Ken Linton/CBC)

The department will also be offering supports to high school students to ensure they have the required prerequisite courses to be able to apply for university or college. 

In addition, Trivers announced online student-teacher appointments will be made available beginning June 15, where kindergarten through Grade 12 teachers will meet with students in an effort to reconnect with them.

"We all know that students are missing their teachers and their schools, while the teachers are also missing their students," he said. 

We have to make sure that we provide the capacity so that as parents go back to work, their children have child care available.— Brad Trivers, minister of education and lifelong learning

Trivers said the one-on-one appointments would allow teachers to review their students' progress and provide them with feedback for future learning.

'It will depend on of course the grade and the level of the student," Hubley-Little said. However, the one-on-one sessions will not go beyond the end of the originally scheduled school year.

Year-end celebrations, graduations

Trivers also noted that students and teachers are looking for new and innovative ways to host year-end celebrations and events. 

During the week of June 22, he said schools will offer year-end celebrations and graduation activities. The department is also planning tours to help students transition from elementary to intermediate and high school.

Hubley-Little said she expects to meet with high school principals across the province on Friday to discuss more details and hopes to provide more information in the coming weeks.

Noting many Island parents have questions concerning child care as the province begins to relax its COVID-19 restrictions, Trivers said the province is working on a plan to ensure parents have access to child care.

Until the department knows how many parents apply on behalf of their students, Hubely-Little says it wouldn't be possible to say how many students the department is expecting for the respite program. (Ken Linton/CBC)

He said more information for parents and caregivers will be made available in the coming days. In the meantime, he asked parents to identify what their need for child care will be on the province's website. 

"We have to make sure that we provide the capacity so that as parents go back to work, their children have child care available," Trivers said. 

Parents are being asked to identify when they are planning to return to work, what child care would be needed, how old their children are and where they are located, he said. 

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

Health Canada has built a self-assessment tool.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call 811. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested. A health professional at 811 will give you advice and instructions.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Clean regularly touched surfaces regularly.
  • Practise physical distancing.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

More from CBC P.E.I.

 

About the Author

Sam Juric

Reporter

Sam Juric is a reporter with CBC Sudbury and can be reached at sam.juric@cbc.ca.

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