The provincial government has announced plans for a new centralized online learning Crown Corporation, but officials at Saskatchewan Rivers School Division are still waiting for details on how it will be implemented.
The subject was a topic of discussion during Monday’s Sask. Rivers board meeting. Education Director updated the board on what he knows about the online learning provincial plan during his director’s update.
He said they understand the challenges in creating a new Distance Learning Centre (DLC) since Sask. Rivers had to create their own.
“I certainly understand the ministry has got a huge task ahead of them,” Bratvold said. “It's impacting us. You know, we're finding some ways to make sure that our DLC is a way to support students in a blended format.
“So (we) find out what the rules are that the ministry has for school divisions providing blended learning. And then we make sure that our that we can provide support to those students in that,” he added. The division, like the general public, is aware that the new DLC will be run through the Sun West School Division with Darren Gasper in charge of determining the new operating structure.
The Sun West platform seems to be what the province wants to use for the structure with some minor adjustments possible.
Although not finalized, the memo indicated that students will enrol with their home school and division and be funded as a “regular student” and then the home division will be invoiced for tuition at the DLC. The tuition fees have not been determined as of yet.
The Saskatchewan Teacher's Federation (STF) is planning a meeting with teachers and others to gather information about teachers understanding and perception of the transition.
The Ministry of Education continues to seek details about how other school divisions have delivered online and hybrid learning in the past.
Bratvold said that they know for certain that they will continue to provide that support for students. It’s just a question of what it will look like.
“(For) those who need or prefer that kind of digital or blended learning approach, we're going to do that, but we can't be sure of how going to do that until the ministry is clear on what we can or can't do,” he explained.
The provincial government announced plans in December 2022 to create a new DLC called the Saskatchewan Distance Learning Corporation. Education Minister Dustin Duncan said all Saskatchewan students would have free access to the program. The main office will be located in Kenaston, with additional satellite locations throughout the province.
Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald