Midway through the first week of distance learning for students in Ontario, the Peterborough Victoria Northumberland Clarington Catholic District School Board (PVNCCDSB) is working to ensure all students have the ability to continue with their classes.
Students are turning to online classrooms because their actual schools are closed until at least May 4, due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
PVNCCDSB covers a large geographic area of both urban and rural demographics. A survey sent out to parents last week showed distance learning would be a problem for many students who do not have access to equipment or reliable high-speed internet, or both, necessary to access assignments and information.
“This week we’re rolling out approximately 2,500 different devices, Chromebooks and iPads, to our school communities in the hands of the families who need it most,” said Galen Eagle, PVNCCDSB communications manager.
“We also have approximately 150 iPads shipping in from China as we speak, that are set to arrive in mid-April, which will have 4G connectivity. We will be providing those to families, where there is no internet or where internet connectivity is a serious issue.”
The school board is arranging for safe pickup of the devices at closed schools, where proper hygiene and physical distancing will be enforced.
For those who have equipment and connectivity, many teachers started using Google Classroom on Monday to send out messages and assignments to students.
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“All teachers will have reached out to students and they’re all connecting in this new normal,” added Eagle.
“No student should be disadvantaged because of these circumstances.”
Eagle said the focus of distance education is for all students to be supported to move on to the next grade, or for the students that are set to graduate, is that they succeed in that.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.
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