With in-class learning suspended indefinitely by the province, the Garden Valley School Division has been working collaboratively with Manitoba Education and the other school divisions in the province to address the challenges of remote learning.

GVSD Superintendent Todd Monster says staff have been busy exploring remote and innovative methods to teach the division's K-12 students through the remainder of this school year.

As part of Education Minister Kelvin Goertzen's announcement earlier this week, he stressed that students continue to be actively engaged in learning.

"So the expectation is that teachers will teach remotely, they will assign work and conduct assessments and prepare final report cards, and the bulk of that will be done remotely as teachers are working from home," says Monster.

Remote learning will look different depending on whether it's for early years, middle years, or high school students.

Monster says they realize that one of the major challenges of at-home learning is ensuring that any at-home resources or curriculum that's being shared is available to all students. He says they recognize that some might not have access to the internet or digital devices. Monster says the division is exploring not only the possibilities that exist using technology but are also working to develop learning plans for those families that do not have access to technology.

For students with an Independent Education Plan (IEP), Monster says the classroom teachers and resource teachers will also specifically be looking at how they can help those students with a distance learning plan. "Recognizing that it will be different than some of our other students, and does pose some of its own unique challenges."

"The ideal situation is when our students are in the classrooms with the teachers," says Monster. "Our teachers right now are doing a fabulous job of trying their best to support students in this new distance learning model that COVID-19 has forced us into developing. So there are challenges with that of course, and lots of specifics that we will continue to work through every day and every week."

Monster says they recognize that this is a very challenging time as well for the parents in many different ways. "We want to say thank you to them for their kindness, support, and patience as we work through all the challenges of remote learning. Our parents are great. And we have a great staff who have and will continue to work countless hours to put new structures in place to support our students and families with distance learning."

The division also realizes that there are things that students may need to get from their lockers or from their desks. Monster says they will be working with the schools to put together a plan that allows for the opportunity for students to get the things they may have left at school. "We're just not sure exactly how that will look yet, but we will be working on that."

Meanwhile, schools will continue to be closed to the public as the have been since March 23, however they will continue to maintain essential staffing so teachers will have access to resources to effectively plan for remote learning. Custodial staff will also be working inside the schools during this time as well.

"Schools will continue to do social distancing, so they will monitor that when staff comes into the building as recommended by the chief public health officer, and we will continue to have enhanced cleaning protocols in place."

The GVSD office will also remain closed to the public, however, staff are still available to provide assistance as needed by telephone or email.

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