Saskatchewan

Decision not yet made on when Sask. elementary, high school students will return to class in person

No final decision has been made on when schools will return to in-class learning in Saskatchewan.

While curriculum is online, challenges exist in ensuring students are learning: U of S prof

There's still no date for when students will return to in-class learning, according to the Ministry of Education. (Bryan Eneas/CBC)

Saskatchewan schools are closed for the rest of the education year and no decision has yet been made on whether students will return to in-person learning in the fall. 

Students were last physically in schools in March, before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and prompted the provincial government and chief medical health officer to limit gathering sizes.

The school year was formally ended earlier this month. Universities have said they will be returning to digital classrooms in the coming fall.

The provincial Ministry of Education confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that its response planning team (RPT) continues to monitor the pandemic and follow advice and recommendations made by chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab.

"The RPT is working with education sector partners to begin to work on what education delivery — including in-class learning — may look like in the new school year," an emailed statement from the ministry said. 

"The timelines will depend on the safety of everyone in Saskatchewan schools." 

The ministry said it was monitoring other jurisdictions that have cautiously resumed in-class learning to see what their experiences are with reopening. 

Challenges will exist

While University of Regina and Saskatchewan students are set to return to class online in the fall, a digital return to class in elementary and high schools may prove more difficult.

Associate professor Jay Wilson, head of the curriculum studies department at the University of Saskatchewan college of education, said many students and teachers are learning now how to effectively teach and learn remotely. 

But long term, he said the delivery of the curriculum becomes the tough part with distance learning. 

"As residents of Saskatchewan, as parents, as students and teachers, we can all go online and see what is supposed to be delivered and taught and evaluated in classrooms," he said. 

"[The challenge is] taking that learning and then transferring it into a remote teaching situation, which is what we're dealing with now, and ensuring that students are still learning."

Wilson noted that things like chemistry equipment — and the proper training to use it — or access to things driver education need to be done in a school environment.

He said distance learning can work for students who live in an urban centre with high-speed internet and have the means to access the necessary technology, but that not everyone in Saskatchewan is in that kind of situation.

"Think about situations where there are multiple students in a household, as well as people who are working from home — or maybe teaching from home," he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Eneas

Reporter

Bryan Eneas is a journalist from the Penticton Indian Band currently based in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before joining CBC, he reported in central and northern Saskatchewan. Send news tips to Bryan.Eneas@cbc.ca.

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