INNISFAIL - Work is underway on a new Chinook’s Edge School Division (CESD) learning recovery plan designed to help students deal with any shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials said.
Being spearheaded by the multi-school Learning Service Team, the plan’s development process includes gathering information to assess specific supports individual students may require in the 2021-22 school year.
The plan is expected to make significant impacts on any learning gaps resulting from the pandemic, said Jason Drent, associate superintendent of learning services and a member of the division’s Learning Service Team.
“Early intervention is always the best intervention,” Drent told The Albertan. “The sooner we can really get a sense of where the kids are at the better, so that our teachers can get a good sense of where they need to fill in gaps.
“Research and data is very clear that if we can impact those kids as early as possible it makes a huge difference later on in life.”
Funding for the plan and its implementation will come from existing supports within the division, as well as from previously announced provincial funding.
As part of the team’s efforts, students will be interviewed and surveyed. For example, in the fall teachers will be using a math survey to test students from Grade 2 to Grade 10.
“Every student will take this assessment in the month of September, and then that data will be used in schools and classrooms to really provide those specific supports,” he said.
“We will use that data to make sure that we have identified where there are gaps and really focus on ensuring that we fill those gaps. We will use that data to support inventions in the fall.”
Including educators from across the region, the Learning Services Team has already started collecting data on student literacy and numeracy in the division.
“From a literacy standpoint we want to really get a sense of where they are struggling in their reading levels,” he said.
Although the division surveys students every year to determined literacy and numeracy levels, the current data collection has a particular focus on the impact of the pandemic.
And by identifying gaps in learning created by the pandemic, and in particular the impact of the shifting between in-person and online learning, educators will be able focus intervention.
“We will be able to target those kids who have been negatively impacted and be able to put those interventions in place as early as possible,” he said.
“We’ve already done some proactive work, especially with kids that we knew about in the spring. Our teachers worked really hard at the end of the year gathering whatever data they could so we can move into the fall as prepared as possible.”
Meanwhile, the CESD central office team also plans to be busy this summer.
“The team will be reviewing the COVID-19 situation in late summer to determine whether such things as student field trips can expand beyond the local community and involve a greater number of students beyond the single class cohort,” board officials said in a statement.
“The board and central office team area hopeful the new school year will return to normal or near-normal activity, if the current Alberta Health Services plans on lifting restrictions continue to progress as expected.”
Sheveryn Deschambault, a teacher at Jessie Duncan School in Penhold, is the new president of the local Alberta Teachers Association.
“Outgoing president Trevor Sanche was thanked for his outstanding efforts on behalf of the teachers he represented and his exceptional relationship-building skills,” the board said.
CESD includes schools in Mountain View and Red Deer counties.