Students in the Cowichan Valley school district will continue their school year, but not in classrooms.
District officials and teachers have developed a new curriculum during the COVID-19 crisis that will allow students to continue with their educations at home.
Schools in the Valley, and across B.C., have been closed since spring break due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Candace Spilsbury, chairwoman of the school district, said local schools and teachers have worked hard over a short period of time to completely re-tool education in a local context, and they have found creative and supportive ways to slowly introduce students and families to this new educational reality.
Spilsbury said that after contacting each student and family in the district last week, teachers have been preparing activities and classes for their students, all of whom are expected to participate.
She said at-home learning will be as extensive as teachers feel is required for each student, but the curriculum won’t be exactly as if they are attending regular school.
“The new curriculum asks teachers to provide personalized, individualized instruction based on a students’ interests and passions and through project-based learning,” Spilsbury said.
“It is a strong reliance on positive relationships that helps learning like this flourish. With students being supported in their at-home learning by their teachers, we’re happy to see these relationships continue.”
Spilsbury said that while numerous ways of connecting with the district’s students are being explored, one that has come to the forefront is the tools that support online learning.
She said the district is dedicated to ensuring each family has access to the technology and supports that are required, and families who need technology to support student learning at home are encouraged to reach out to their teacher or principal.
“We have quite a number of computers in our schools that can be used by students at home,” Spilsbury said.
“We’re also looking at other ways that we can support them. As master collaborators, teachers have gathered, created, and shared numerous resources to help engage and work with students.”
Spilsbury said the overall and broad framework for the new curriculum was provided by the Ministry of Education, but district staff have been working with principals and support staff to tailor-make the curriculum to meet local needs.
“For our graduates, it is important to note that requirements for course completion and graduation have been adapted to the new learning model and support from schools is available,” she said.
“Through these difficult times it is hoped that these strong relationships with teachers that help support education will become a family affair, and be strongly supported through the relationships with the teacher.”