March 18 Update

A test run of a school-wide Google Hangout at Connect on March 13. 

It’s Never Just An Ordinary Day…No Kidding!

Transitioning to an online learning environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic will be full of new challenges and opportunities for all of us. Children have had their routines and their anchor points at school dislodged with little warning.  We are trying to be particularly mindful that parents have many other factors to consider, including but not limited to: other children at home with different expectations from different schools, children with complex needs who will experience difficulty without the face-to-face reinforcement they receive in school, work related stress if you are trying to work from home or have lost employment due to the pandemic, and perhaps an irrational but deeply held fear of running out of toilet paper.

On top of trying to cope with our temporarily changed way of life, you are also being asked to support your child’s continued learning at Connect through the remote access platforms that teachers will be providing to you prior to the return from spring break. And on that note….please do take a break from March 23rd to April 5th. Although travel plans may have been curtailed and self-isolation may affect the capacity of some to get out and about, for those who remain healthy you can still remain active and allow your children to take a breather from the rigours of school and the possible anxiety of processing this ‘new normal’. Spend time with your family and focus on making your children feel safe and connected.

Rest assured that our teachers, educational assistants, and other support teachers, are prepared to help your child in multiple ways to feel like they are part of their class in an online learning environment. You will receive a schedule from your child’s core teachers that will indicate the times of day and days of the week when they will participate in online learning in groups of 13 students. Other times will be allocated for check-in periods when students can access a teacher or an EA for support or just to chat. It will be new and very different… and there will be hiccups along the way. Students will sleep in or forget about an online session, or you will be too busy to remind them…and that is perfectly ok. The staff members assigned to each grade will gently reach out to students who are developing a pattern of not participating in online sessions and will provide support and guidance to engage them in this new type of learning.

We are very aware that e-learning may prove extra challenging for students with complex needs and those who are experiencing anxiety, whether it be due to the pandemic or because of the radical changes to routines and the predictability of school. Our student services team and the school leadership are already discussing how we might be able to address the specific and collective needs of these students. I can assure you that we will never let them fall through the cracks and we will be as innovative as necessary to ensure they are experiencing meaningful learning. We also understand that coordinating activities and a schedule for students with complex needs is a significant stress factor for parents. Please reach out to us so we can help. We have a deep bag of tricks and a lot of experience to draw upon in terms of supporting our students and while the support may look different for any two students, we have the means to provide it and ease parental anxiety in the process.

At any time you can contact me with questions or suggestions to improve the online learning experience for your children. We will also frequently be taking the pulse of how things are going from a parent and student perspective, making adjustments as we go, and always remembering that parents are our key partners in educating children. Although you may not think of it this way, you are the first…and arguably most important…teacher they will ever have. 

And finally (for today, at least) please remember that this pandemic WILL pass and we WILL return to school where we will once again enjoy the field experiences, electives, phys ed, and the interactions with one another that are the foundation of our relationships.  

Finding Balance 

This article provides a perspective on how to address the transition to online learning:

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/17/816631571/coronavirus-triple-duty-working-parenting-and-teaching-from-home?utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com

And this one has some great tips for discussing COVID-19 with your children and maintaining a sense of calm.

https://www.calgaryandarearcsd.ca/assets/Uploads/General-Resources/Coping-for-Children-and-Families.pdf 

e-Learning Help Desk 

The eLearning Helpdesk for Connect students is now available to support you in using technology for learning at home – including both a phone (voicemail) line, and a form for support. Requests will be prioritized and addressed as fast as we are able – supported by our technology team. Please include important information such as your full name, contact phone, and if you’re requesting a password reset, the additional information as noted on the website:

https://www.connectcharter.ca/elearning-helpdesk or 587-885-2955.

School Council: Connect Charter School Parents  Facebook Group

A reminder from School Council about the Connect Charter School Parents Group on Facebook. This is a closed group, created for parents of students who attend Connect Charter. If you aren’t already in this group, you may wish to join and share information and ideas for e-learning, scheduling, and keeping active during self-isolation. Search for the group (name and cover image below), read the group rules, answer a couple questions and send a request to join.