Coronavirus: What online schooling will look like for students in Saskatoon as interest grows

Schools are reopening Sept. 8 in Saskatchewan, but many parents in Saskatoon are opting to keep their kids at home amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

For some students, their kitchens will become classrooms as they tackle this school year virtually.

Read more: Saskatchewan providing additional $40M to schools, delays start date for students

The goal is to keep things as close to normal as possible, according to both Saskatoon Public and Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools (GSCS).

Classes will be about the same size as those in person, according to GSCS. Start and finish times will also be about the same.

About 10 per cent of Saskatoon Public Schools’ students will be learning online. GSCS said it doesn’t know how many students will take online classes yet, but demand is growing by the hour.

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Colleen Norris, superintendent of education with Saskatoon Public Schools, said her division is asking parents to commit to online learning for the entire school year if that’s something they choose for their kids.

Read more: Online learning expert worries sudden demand is leaving teachers, families unprepared

“That is probably what’s going to be best for the child,” she explained.

“We are going to set up our online learning classrooms very much like a face to face classroom in (Kindergarten) to (Grade) 8, where it’s one teacher with a group of students where they’re building that relationship and getting to know each other throughout the year.”

Some schools in Saskatoon have already started getting signage up for students who do returning for in person classes.

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GSCS said its students can transition from online to in person but that might not be best depending how far they are in to the term.

“Essentially those students are coming from another school,” said Superintendent Darryl Bazylak.

“The curricular outcomes that have been addressed don’t always match up, so they’ll be some balancing to do.”

Read more: What is unschooling? The child-led education model growing in popularity

Classes will by synchronous or asynchronous throughout the day.

That means sometimes a teacher will be on the screen giving a lesson, while other times – like when the class is working on homework – the students do that on screen while their teacher does something like grade papers.

The teacher can also work with students one-on-one.

“I might be working with (a student) on a mathematical concept and just one on one,” Bazyak said. “The beauty is that nobody else is hearing our conversation.”

Both school divisions already had some online classes for high schoolers before the pandemic, but for lower grades a lot of this will be brand new.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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