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Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools appoints Kathleen Finnigan Interim Superintendent

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From Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools

The Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board of Trustees passed a motion on Tuesday, February 18, 2020, concluding the employment of Superintendent Dr. Paul Mason, effective immediately.

Associate Superintendent Kathleen Finnigan has been appointed as Interim Superintendent. Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools thanks Dr. Mason for his years of service.

As this is an internal employment matter, the Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools Board has no further comment.

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Education

Get kids back to school sooner after concussion for a better recovery, new study says

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By Nicole Ireland

A new Canadian study says that kids who have suffered a concussion should get back to school sooner to give them a better recovery.

The study, published in the JAMA Network Open on Friday, found that kids between eight and 18 who returned to school in fewer than three days after injury showed more improvement in symptoms 14 days later than kids who stayed home from school longer.

Concussion symptoms can include physical pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light or sound and balance problems;  cognitive challenges such as difficulty concentrating or remembering things; sleep disruption and mental health problems such as depression or anxiety, said Dr. Roger Zemek, senior author of the study and a concussion expert at the CHEO Research Institute in Ottawa.

It’s OK for kids to still have some symptoms when they go back to class, as long as they can tolerate them, he said.

An early return to school allows kids to see their friends, avoid the stress of missing too many classes, keep a normal sleeping schedule and do light to moderate activity, which has previously been shown to be beneficial for blood flow and brain healing, he said.

Laila Lebel, 13, said returning to school and physical activity helped her after she got a concussion when she fell while running and hit her neck on a bench last fall.

She went back to school after two days, while being treated by Zemek at his concussion clinic in Ottawa.

“He told me that I should go to school, but not do all the work and kind of take it easy,” Lebel said.

Zemek also told her she could “slowly get back to sports by doing ones that don’t involve things I could hit my head on.”

Lebel started with a couple of hours on her first day back at school and then gradually worked her way up to full days.

That first day, her head hurt and she felt “dizzy and I was just kind of like having trouble concentrating,” but was excited to be with her friends.

“I think that seeing friends, that is really important, and doing activities that are safe and that you like,” she said.

Lebel’s mother works with Zemek at the CHEO Research Institute but was not involved in the study.

Zemek said he hopes the research findings will help combat mixed messages and outdated thinking about how to help kids recover from concussions.

“People think ‘well if some rest is good, lots of rest is better’ and they take that delayed or cautious approach, either because (of) what was in the old guidelines or doing what they think is best,” he said.

Guidelines for health-care providers have not always kept pace with changing evidence — and advice on when to return to school has not necessarily been clear, Zemek said.

“This study really is one of the first to show that it is not only important that kids do return to school, but returning early — even if they had a high symptom burden — helps them with the recovery.”

The research showed that kids who had the worst symptoms after their concussion actually benefited the most by returning to school earlier, Zemek said.

The Canadian Paediatric Society recently updated its concussion position statement, a spokesperson said in an email on Friday.

“Two fairly new recommendations apply to return to school and learning. First, medical clearance by a physician is no longer required to return to school, and second, children and youth should be encouraged to return to school as soon as possible, provided significant individualized supports are in place,” the position statement says.

It’s important for schools to make accommodations for students with concussions, such as excusing them from any contact-based gym activities where they could hit their head again and allowing students experiencing cognitive symptoms to postpone tests until they have improved, Zemek said.

Concussion-injured students can start their early return by going to school for one or two hours first, then progressing to half days and then full days, based on what they can tolerate, he said.

The researchers examined data for 1,630 children aged five to 18 who had been to nine emergency departments across Canada between August 2013 and June 2015. Just over half of the kids had missed only one to two days of school, which was considered an early return.

They found that decreased symptoms after 14 days were associated with an early return to school among kids age eight to 18 — even when their initial symptoms had been more severe. The researchers did not find the same association among the younger five- to seven-year-olds, but Zemek believes that’s because the youngest children recover better than their older counterparts regardless of when they go back to school.

Dr. Mark Halstead, a pediatric sports medicine physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital who was not involved in the study, says the research findings “mirror what we see in clinic.”

“The nice thing (about) this study, which was well done and I feel the methodology was sound, is that it offers additional support that we don’t need to be isolating and shutting kids down completely from things to get them well, and in fact that may prolong recovery,” Halstead said in an email to The Canadian Press.

“We shouldn’t be afraid that making the brain work and doing some work in school  — with proper breaks and adjustments to workload throughout the school day — will actually worsen the brain injury. It may worsen symptoms, but won’t injure the brain further,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2023

Canadian Press health coverage receives support through a partnership with the Canadian Medical Association. CP is solely responsible for this content

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Artificial Intelligence

Professors say adapting coursework to AI writing tools can keep student use in check

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By Christian Collington in Toronto

Online chatbots capable of crafting academic essays are posing a quandary for Canadian universities struggling to clamp down on cheating while educating students about the limitations of using artificial intelligence.

Dave Cormier, a professor at the University of Windsor, says he is incorporating one of the most well-known tools, ChatGPT, into his classroom in a bid to teach students about its shortcomings and how to use it responsibly. He notes such programs will only get better and more prevalent.

“It’s out there, people are going to use it,” he says. “You might as well incorporate it and teach people how to use it ethically.”

ChatGPT, an artificial intelligence text generator developed by OpenAI and released in November 2022, quickly garnered widespread attention for its ability to produce ideas for song lyrics, poems and scripts. Among students, it’s also being used to write essays.

ChatGPT is distinct for being able to generate fodder of varying expertise, ranging from high school to university-level compositions, while other online tools can correct grammar, tone and clarity.

Cormier, who teaches future educators different teaching methods, says he doesn’t know if any students have used ChatGPT for his assignments, but says they did discuss the bot and similar tools in a recent class he led about cheating technologies.

He says it’s very difficult to distinguish between an authentic paper and one written by the program, which provides a thesis, arguments and evidence without the user doing any research.

Students who use ChatGPT can further refine their paper by using other programs like Grammarly, which corrects spelling and grammar mistakes and assesses style and tone. And of course, students can also rewrite passages in their own voice.

“Change some words, run it through another checking system,” says Cormier. “There’s really no way to win this fight right now.”

Sarah Elaine Eaton, an associate professor at the University of Calgary, says schools have to accept that AI tools are and will continue to be used. She is researching the impact of artificial intelligence on academic writing.

She says there are ethical ways for educators to use the technology in class  — for example, by comparing the AI’s writing to a student’s and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of using the tool.

“We understand that some educators and parents are a little apprehensive because they think that these tools might facilitate cheating somehow,” she says. “But there’s also an opportunity to help students learn in really exciting ways.”

She says a class could use ChatGPT to write an essay on the plot of “Hamlet” and then analyze the quality of what it spits out. They could also question the references used and whether the analysis was accurate. She says that would allow students to think critically on the effectiveness of the tool.

She also notes that ChatGPT does not produce a bibliography to go with the essays it writes — a red flag for professors trying to determine if a bot was involved. However she notes that there are online tools that can generate footnotes and sourcing for an existing paper.

Eaton, whose primary area of research is academic misconduct and cheating, says using AI tools is not necessarily cheating because it helps generate ideas.

She says schools are monitoring ChatGPT and other writing technologies before devising policies because as the technology evolves, there’s potential to incorporate it into teaching and to research its potential uses.

“It’s really kind of a policy conundrum right now,” she says. “Most of the academic integrity policies in Canada and even around the world don’t have a lot of policy provisions for this.”

Rebecca Elming, a spokeswoman for the University of Waterloo, says unauthorized class use of bots like ChatGPT would violate the school’s academic integrity policy, even though the rules don’t specifically ban them.

Elming says an ad hoc committee is helping instructors devise assignments that are less vulnerable to AI cheating, and is also considering ways that AI tools can be incorporated into schoolwork.

Yanni Dagonas, York University’s deputy spokesman, says the Toronto school will offer instructors a session on academic integrity and AI on Feb. 23 that includes advice on how to prevent cheating, such as clarifying test rules in advance and outlining resources that can’t be used during a test.

He says some professors are curbing AI use by getting students to submit essay drafts and discuss their writing strategy with peers. Some professors ask students to proofread each other’s work to increase collaboration and generate ideas with each other.

Cormier says he gets around the bot by assigning very specific essay questions a computer can’t answer.

“When I teach, I’ll say ‘connected to the work we did in class today, give me your opinion about that thing,’” he says.

“It’s really about making it contextual to the classroom and making it personal to the student.”

Cormier says an upcoming planning committee session for all faculty will discuss ChatGPT and the ways professors can deal with its potential use by students. He says the university does not have a policy on such tools.

“Talking about what we think the ethical use of these tools are can help faculty and I think it’s going to help students as well,” he says.

Lesley Wilton, an assistant professor at York University’s faculty of education, says AI writing tools won’t go away and will get more sophisticated over time. She says schools should allow them as long as students give proper credit when they’re used.

“I think with ChatGPT we absolutely have to think about what it means to us as educators, what it means to our students and how to work alongside it,” she says.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 20, 2023.

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