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For all those parents concerned their children will “fall behind” in school due to COVID-19

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If you’re a parent with children in school, there’s a good chance you’re concerned about their educational prospects for the remainder of this year.  Suddenly the entire province is home schooling and online learning has completely taken over the curriculum.  How will they adapt and finish the year as strong as they started?  How will they finish all the units and cover all the material they were supposed to?  How will they make up for all those hands on learning experiences they would have ‘enjoyed’ in the presence of their teachers and classmates?  How can they possibly avoid falling behind?  

Here are some comforting thoughts from the long time Superintendent of Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools in Southern Alberta.  They were written specifically for the families of CTR in Southern Alberta, but they really do apply to everyone concerned about education right now.

From Dr. Scott Morrison, Superintendent, Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools

Falling Behind

I’d like to address what I expect will be a very natural educational concern for Alberta’s parents and students, especially parents of very young children and Grade 12 students thinking about post-secondary.

I think a lot of parents and students are worrying about “falling behind”.

Everything’s changed!  The students have to learn in a new way, and the need for parents to assist their kids in the current circumstances many parents find themselves in, well, it’s a burden no educator would ever place on parents given any other option. Our parents rely on our teachers to teach and they make their incredible contributions to the world in other ways. It’s not fair to ask them of this at all.

This is why I’m so pleased Alberta educators have been given such reasonable guidelines with respect to learning expectations, given our present circumstances. The marching orders regarding the time students need to devote to learning represents a reasonable balance between the need to “cover” the curriculum and the ability of students to actually “learn” that curriculum given our present circumstances. Alberta school divisions need to design a new system that is practical for most students and their parents. We need the Goldilocks approach, not too hot and not too cold…it needs to be just right.

I can tell you for a fact that every teacher in this province will be hardwired to try and accomplish too much, at first. Parents will be hardwired to do the same, at first. Many will be overwhelmed, at first.

It may be a rough start, because traditional school teachers, are trained to expertly teach, but they do that in classrooms with kids in front of them. Teachers can’t word process, hyperlink, podcast, webcast, or Zoom every element of the art and craft of teaching like they would in their classrooms.  Teachers will begin using these technologies almost immediately, but the obvious challenge is students without access to a device and/or a reliable internet connection.

I can also tell you that our teachers are brilliant and will listen, adapt, and improve as they learn from both their students and their parents. The quality of education will improve month after month as our teachers use their expertise, passion, and compassion to adjust distance learning to parallel whatever circumstances they encounter. An increasing use of technology will assist as long as the person on the sending end, the teacher, is actively involved in planning, grading, and making day-to-day decisions about slowing down or speeding up.

Let me get back to my opening point. Everyone knows we can’t expect Alberta students to accomplish as much as they would have in their regular classrooms. The fear will be “falling behind”.

However, “behind” is a relative term. To be behind means someone needs to be in front of you. Who will be in front of the overwhelming majority of the students in the province of Alberta? Will it be other Canadian students? No. “Normal” education is shutting down nationally right now. Will it be American students? No. “Normal” education is shutting down in North America right now. Will it be students in other nations? No. “Normal” education is shutting down internationally right now.

So, for some perspective, I offer this. The entire world will lose four months or more of “normal” education due to this crisis. Teaching approaches, curriculums, and expectations will be naturally adjusted on a local, provincial, national, and international level, and we won’t even know it’s happening. Everyone involved with K-12 and post-secondary education will adjust to the new normal, and normal is not behind.

Peace, Dr. Scott Morrison

Superintendent, Christ The Redeemer Catholic Schools

COVID-19 projections suggest Alberta peak coming in several weeks: Kenney

After 15 years as a TV reporter with Global and CBC and as news director of RDTV in Red Deer, Duane set out on his own 2008 as a visual storyteller. During this period, he became fascinated with a burgeoning online world and how it could better serve local communities. This fascination led to Todayville, launched in 2016.

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Alberta

Final weekend to see $880,000 dream home and buy tickets to win Red Deer Hospital Lottery

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Alberta

Alberta city cancels Canada Day fireworks at site of former residential school

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ST. ALBERT, Alta. — A city northwest of Edmonton says it has cancelled its Canada Day fireworks display because it was to be held on the site of a former residential school.

The City of St. Albert says in a news release that Mission Hill, where the July 1 display was planned, is the site of the former Youville Residential School and that it “likely” contains unmarked graves of former students.

It says it made the decision to “demonstrate empathy and respect for members of the community who have experienced, and who continue to experience, the devastating effects of intergenerational trauma because of the residential school system in Canada.”

The release notes that the city wasn’t able to find another suitable location in time that that met the technical and safety requirements for a fireworks display.

Last month, a First Nation in British Columbia announced that ground-penetrating radar had found what are believed to be the remains of 215 children buried on the site of a former residential school in Kamloops.

The City of St. Albert news release says it also scaled back a number of Canada Day activities due to the uncertainty of provincial COVID-19 public health measures.

“The City of St. Albert encourages residents to spend this Canada Day considering both the opportunities and freedoms afforded to many within our country as well as the tragic history that our nation’s story has been built upon,” Mayor Cathy Heron said in a separate release on Friday.

“With this in mind, we can reflect on our past while holding onto hope for an even better future for everyone.”

The city made the announcement about the fireworks cancellation and scaling back events on Friday, the same day Premier Jason Kenney also said remaining public health restrictions would be lifted July 1.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson tweeted Saturday that the city’s Canada Day fireworks will be going ahead.

The leaders of three communities in northern Saskatchewan, meanwhile, have collectively decided to cancel Canada Day celebrations such as fireworks this year and instead focus on National Indigenous People’s Day on Monday.

The leaders of La Ronge, the Lac La Ronge Indian Band and the village of Air Ronge say it’s in response to the findings in Kamloops.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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