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Catholic students warned online learning not suitable for all

The Grande Prairie Catholic School District is advocating heavily for the return to in-person learning, however, many parents may still prefer to have their students enrolled in a more controlled environment— away from a larger potential risk of COVID-19. Though safer and more convenient for many families, Superintendent Karl Germann says the new style of learning will be much more rigorous than what was seen March through June.

“We had a staff and an organization that wasn’t prepared to switch within 48 hours of how they deliver education, so we taught limited subjects and we taught limited outcomes,” says Germann.

“The new online learning is going to be a complete program of studies; it’s going to have the same rigour as in the classroom. If students struggled in the online environment in spring, we’d encourage them to come to school in the fall.”

Germann adds students will be spending the equivalent of an entire school day online, whether they are doing assignments, or spending a couple of hours in front of their teacher.

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The school division will be migrating its online education curriculum and delivery to a platform called Hapara. The new workspace is geared to work with the full G-Suite, as well as provide a cloud-based learning hub to connect students with their instructors.

G-Suite is a cloud-based system of computing, collaboration and productivity tools such as docs, calendars, sheets, drive, etc. to help users keep documents, materials and resources organized and in one universal system.

Parents in the district received a survey on August 18th gauging the overall interest and roughly how many students may be using the online learning platform over the course of the school year. Registration for online learning must be completed by August 24 and if a parent does not respond, it will be assumed the student will be returning to the in-person learning environment.

Germann says once the deadline hits, students will be locked into their decision until the end of class terms when report cards are distributed. For grades one through nine, there will be two opportunities to switch platform. High school students will have one opportunity at the end of January 2021.

“After August 24th you won’t have a choice to switch and you have to stay in online until September 25th. At that point, there will be an opportunity to change again,” Germann explains. “There were over 500 people who had an interest in online learning; we’ll see what happens when people actually have to commit to it. We figure that number will drop, [but] parents do have a choice here in Alberta and we’re going to give them that choice.”

Germann adds students who will find the most success through the online learning platform will be those who are generally very independent of their teachers and peers, as well as possessing the ability to self-discipline, self-direct, and manage their time appropriately.

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