School District No. 63 superintendent Dave Eberwein asked for patience in a video message as the district turns its education on a dime to account for COVID-19, but also assured Grade 12 students on track to graduate they will remain so. (Screen Capture).

School District 63 superintendent asks for patience in transition towards remote learning

Dave Eberwein also said Grade 12 students on track to graduate remain so

The superintendent of School District No. 63 is asking for patience as the district alters its instructional methods in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I ask people to be patient with the [remote learning] platform, because it is going to take a while to get everybody up to speed, and to get everybody learning the way we want them to learn,” said Dave Eberwein in a video message dated April 8 and posted on the school district’s website.

Eberwein said in the video, the first of more to come, that the district has been working on a “huge array” of e-learning resources for teachers and parents. “It’s a huge learning curve for them, not only about these resources, but what it looks like to teach remotely. This isn’t online learning. This is remote learning during a crisis and there is a fundamental difference.”

Eberwein said not all families have access to the necessary online technology. “So part of the plan that we are engaging with here in Saanich is to make sure that students have access to the technology that they need, but not rely solely on technology to be the learning medium for students,” he said in directing parents and students to the district’s remote learning platform at learn.saanichschools.ca.

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“Teachers are also learning how to interact with their students remotely,” he said. “That might take a various number of forms.” They could include video conferencing, emails, or Google classrooms. “Some teachers have a Moodle website that they use and we are providing some opportunity for physical resources to move back and forth between school and home with more understanding of how that is going to work in the days to come.

Eberwein asked for the public’s patience and reassured students on track to graduate before the pandemic struck that they remain on track.

“Teachers are working hard to prepare the necessary content and knowledge to ensure that everyone of their high school students who is planning to go on to post-secondary is well prepared to do so,” he said, adding that additional information about several related topics such as post-secondary applications and scholarships will be coming forward in the near future. ‘We know this is paramount on the minds of many student in Grade 12 and their parents.”

Eberwein said all jurisdictions around the world are dealing with the effects of the pandemic on education. ‘There is an acute awareness of having to make this work for all of those students, who are planning to go on to school after their Grade 12 year. So I want to assure that we are working diligently behind the scenes with the Ministry of Education, liaising with advanced education.”

Eberwein encourages the public to submit their questions to inquiries@saanichschools.ca. “I know this is a challenging time for everybody,” he said. “There are a lot more questions than answers. I am hoping that this video segment provides an opportunity to at least answer some of them for you. We are in this together. We will be successful together. I have no doubt that we will be successful because of the professionalism and the dedication and the perseverance that our staff has to make this work for everybody.”

The provincial government mandated kids not return to school shortly after the start of the province-wide spring break officially scheduled from March 16 to March 27. On March 31, the district posted a message from Eberwein, in which he first described the way ahead for the school district, using the term remote learning.

“We have been tasked with turning an entire education system on-a-dime to something that looks very different than it did before spring break,” he said. “It is going to take different forms for different learners and different teachers – not just because we have students who range from 5-19 years of age, but also because we have different courses, programs, learning styles and student needs. Some teachers are already using webpages, blogs and other electronic teaching tools, whereas others have been using more traditional means.”

Eberwein said this “new normal” will see the district use a “variety of approaches” to provide an “educational program” that addresses academic and social-emotional needs of children in their respective grades, courses or programs.

“It is definitely a work in progress – but a challenge that we are definitely ready to tackle,” he said. “The energy and enthusiasm from our staff is palpable.”


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