School is out in Saskatchewan. What happens now for students?
Questions about grads, grades and more remain
Saskatchewan students from prekindergarten to Grade 12 are being asked to stay home immediately if they can, with schools closing officially on Friday, but there is still uncertainty for families across Saskatchewan.
We know schools will remain closed indefinitely and it's possible classes won't return until September.
Saskatchewan's Education Minister Gord Wyant said the province has "effectively ended the school year" as of this coming Friday morning, but questions about grads, grades and more remain.
Wyant said that, absent any additional work, the grade a student currently has will be their final grade and that students will move on to the next grade based on those marks.
Grads with eligible marks will be able to enter post-secondary, should they choose.
"We also will be in contact with the post secondary institutions — the universities, SaskPoly — to make sure that there will be a seamless entry of those kids," Wyant said Tuesday on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition.
"It's a work in progress."
Wyant said there is significant work to be done by a new committee, which is responsible for a way forward on a few key issues like final exams, and how online and distance learning will work.
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Online resources and distance learning
As for how things will work with online or distance learning, some facets are still up in the air. Students will be allowed to do work to get their marks up.
"We have engaged a response planning team made up of ministry officials, the [Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation], the [Saskatchewan School Boards Association] and other partners in education to determine what a path forward would look like to ensure that children who want to continue their education have that opportunity," Wyant said.
Teachers have the option of working from home or the schools. Wyant said they all remain employed and working. He said there's lots more to come in the next few days in terms of solutions and that he expects there will be innovation from the committee and teachers alike.
Food and internet
In some cases, children rely on schools for meals.
"We know how important those food programs are for breakfast. It's one of the first things that we raised with our officials yesterday to make sure that to some extent, some alternative delivery programs can happen," he said.
Few people know the need as well as Angela Hutton, principal at Albert Community School. She was concerned about her students, so her staff has put together 260 care packages — one for each student.
"We pulled things from our closets and from our own teaching supplies, anything we could, to put together packages that include crayons and pencil crayons, sketchbooks, snacks, decks of cards — game ideas, books and some educational games," Hutton said.
Graham's Tire in Regina donated reusable bags and the care packs were ready to go.
"We feed our students here three times a day," Hutton said. "So we worry that without that families will struggle. We're worried about our kids having enough food to last them."
Hutton said that because they don't know how long the closure will last, her school's nutritionist is cooking up as much food as possible to send home with the children. The goal is to create 130 food hampers.
"It was hard for the staff yesterday when we're talking to students and saying 'It's time for you to go home and to be at home,'" she said. "School is a safe place for a lot of kids. It's also a safe place for a lot of our staff. This is the place where we know we can help."
Not every family has access to internet at home. Wyant said there is discussion with SaskTel to boost bandwidth in the province. If it's not possible to provide internet, an alternative will have to be found.
With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition