As we enter this next period of remote learning, we are aware of the different reactions in our community. Some parents and guardians are relieved; some are unsure that this move is helpful or necessary.
Pembina Trails is working closely with Manitoba Public Health and Manitoba Education, and as required, are taking our direction from them, acknowledging their expertise. For our own part, we have been preparing for this possibility for some time. It is important to remember how much we have learned in the past year and how much better we are now at remote teaching and learning. We will continue to do everything we can for our families.
We recognize there is no “one size fits all” solution, that every community, school and family is unique. We are focusing on the human element in meeting as many needs as possible. Here are some questions and answers to help families navigate this transition.
What are the expectations, guidelines or standards for this period of remote learning?
Classroom teachers have been directed to Manitoba Education's published programming standards for remote learning. Learning will be structured as a combination of real-time online instruction and independent work.
Real-time online learning will take place on Microsoft Teams or an equivalent platform. Students are expected to be available for these online sessions according to their grade level:
- Grades 1–4: Five to six hours per week
- Grades 5–8: Seven to eight hours per week
- Grades 9–12: Two hours per course per week
Independent work may include reading, viewing and responding to pre-recorded videos, and/or projects. The following is the recommended minimum amount of time for independent work:
- Grades 1–4: Two and a half hours per day
- Grades 5–8: Three hours per day
- Grades 9–12: One hour per course per day
Kindergarten teachers will be connecting with students and families a minimum of once per week and will provide parents and caregivers with play-based learning experiences to engage with their child at home. No real-time sessions will be held at this level.
Teachers for Grades 1–12 will also be establishing patterns of regular communication (both real-time conversations and check-ins) with individual students and families.
We are keenly aware of the expectations this places on parents and guardians. Learning is always a partnership between teachers and parents; we must lean more heavily on family support to make remote learning successful. We cannot thank you enough for your efforts to help your children and their teachers during this challenging time.
What do schools have in place to support families with limited or no access to technology?
A laptop with a camera and Internet access will facilitate remote learning. Families without access to these resources are encouraged to contact their school, where staff will ensure that technology is accessible or that alternate arrangements are made.
How will children and families who are vulnerable or high-risk be supported?
Pembina Trails has been working with schools and families to build and maintain a list of households where essential workers will require care for children up to 12 years of age in the event of a move to remote learning.
Schools will accommodate children over age 12 if (1) their parent is a critical service worker and (2) the child has a disability that precludes them from being able to stay at home independently. No medical note is required. Students considered to be at high risk will also be accommodated. Schools have developed student-specific plans for students with additional learning needs, and affected families can expect to hear from schools directly.
How long will this last?
The current public health orders are in effect until the end of this month. We expect the orders will be reviewed at that time according to the COVID-19 case load and hospitalization rates.
In the meantime, please continue to follow the fundamentals of reducing our contacts in the community as much as possible. We know that the best place for our kids is in school, and the more we can stay home, reduce our contacts, and reduce the spread in the community, the sooner our children will be back in school.