For most in the workforce, working from home has become the new norm during the COVID pandemic.
Tea in hand, sweat pants on, zoom meeting scheduled, it’s become a daily routine that works.
But for many students, working from home has proven difficult and has raised many questions for those pursuing their education.
Steve Wyer, principal of Golden Secondary School, says the process continues to evolve for extended and progressive learning which has become the primary source of education during this unprecedented time.
“We’re trying to support the unique needs of all the students we have here by offering types of learning that will meet the varying needs of students,” said Wyer.
“We’re looking at this as a continuation of learning by balancing low tech solutions with online options.”
When the work from home order came down over a month ago, suspending classes after pring break, teachers had limited time to turn around and put together a pared-down curriculum that students could complete remotely.
With guidelines form the B.C. Ministry of Education, teachers met up the first week after the break, when classes were originally scheduled to resume, to discuss options.
“We realized that the most important thing is to maintain a connection with students,” said Wyer. “We want to recreate that connection with students and ensure that it’s sustained throughout this time period.”
For the first week, Wyer says students’ first period teachers reached out to families to make sure that everyone was on the same page. Teachers made sure students had up-to-date email addresses, were checking their emails regularly and that parents knew where to access information on the new socially-distanced curriculum.
Assignments started in the second week of school closures.
The school is still open, however, with students welcome to stop by and pick up any supplies they may need from printed assignments and workbooks, to scientific calculators, to laptops for those who don’t have consistent access to computers to complete their work.
Throughout the whole process, Wyer has acknowledged the need to support his students during an uncertain time, from those who were already being supported through the school’s counselling system to those who may need support for the first time during the pandemic.
“Mental health is a huge part of it as well, every student has a different set of needs and questions and anxieties,” said Wyer.
“We need to be sensitive to the capacity for students to be able to accept work and complete work at this time.”
The school is also continuing to support students who required individual education programs or education assistants.
While Wyer understands concerns over the quality of education, he assures his students and their families that the school is doing their best to deliver the best education they can.
“Teachers are professional because they know what professional practice and progressive learning look like and the growth mindset involved,” explained Wyer.
“I have seen nothing but promising stuff coming from my teachers that replicates some of the same instructional practices that we would do face to face.”
As of right now, Wyer says there’s no indication from the ministry that the year will have to run into the summer or that final grades are on track to be released in June.
While things like prom and graduation are still up in the air, Wyer says he’s been inspired by the creativity of his students that continues to flourish and offer alternative options to celebrate together, despite the hardships of the pandemic.