The North East School Division (NESD) is removing online classrooms from the division for the 2021-22 school year, requiring all students to attend in person unless actively sick or enrolled in a homeschool program.
“We’ve already determined that the in-person learning will be our priority for all students next year, we’re not going to be providing an online school option,” said Don Rempel, director of education with the NESD.
“We’ll support all families with in-person learning at school, and if there is an instance where a student has to be away because of an infection or an isolation required at home, then the classroom teacher will support the student at that time.”
In an instance of a group of students, single student, or the entire school getting sick, Rempel said that the online structures with Google Classroom and Moodle will remain ready to use, but specific online teachers will not be hired.
This is the same strategy that is currently implemented when a full-time in-person student is required to isolate at home.
“The structures, resources, and online platforms have all been built and are accessible by our teachers already, and will be made accessible for parents and students if needed for periods of time in the fall.”
Rempel said the decision was influenced by the rural setting of the schools within the board.
“What we’ve experienced this year in rural Saskatchewan is that you can go months without an exposure at a school, but then also if you do have an exposure you have a few weeks where you have a few staff and/or students that have to be isolated because they’re deemed close contacts, but we’re prepared to manage.”
In a statement, the Ministry of Education said it was working with school divisions to provide a more normal school experience for students this fall, with online learning being a tool for school divisions.
The school divisions will be working at the local level to plan for and address the specific needs of staff and students.
Details are expected to follow in the coming weeks on in-school vaccination opportunities for ages 12 and up.
Jessica R. Durling, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Humboldt Journal