Policy changes in Catholic Division brought upon by lessons from COVID-19 pandemic

The Prince Albert Catholic School Division says COVID-19 changed the way students learn, and they’ve updated their Alternative Program Delivery Policy to reflect that.

During the pandemic, more students than ever were learning remotely instead of attending classes in person. Education Director Lorel Trumier said they still believe in-person learning is the best option, but they need to recognize alternative models like a mixture of in-person and online learning, strict online learning, or experimental learning are available.

“We had to obviously evolve over time,” Trumier said. “I think this is one of the Silver Linings of COVID. Now we've got a much more extensive opportunity for students to participate in credit achievement opportunities.”

Trumier updated the school board on the policy changes during their regular meeting on Nov. 7. She said the new policy is designed to give students a wider range of learning options.

“We're able to provide online responses to student inquiries on different courses that they can take,” she explained.

“What we used to be able to present and used to have available has shifted tremendously. Now we have many more opportunities for students.”

Trumier said the move to online learning in 2020 and 2021 are what caused the division to make a number of changes to the policy.

The changes include a clarification of what is required of parents when a student moves to online learning, restrictions live-streaming content from in-person classes, and an outline for when the school division moves students to online learning for safety reasons.

The policy requires parents or guardians to ensure their child is participating in class and completing assignments. The new policy also states that students or parents must provide a technological device and internet connectivity in order to participate.

The policy also restricts students from livestreaming in-person class activities to students outside the in-person learning environment.

It also allows the division to move students to an online learning model if the student has “a propensity for violence or is a significant hazard as a result of not being able to adhere to the safety measures of a public health order and/or school rules.”

Trumier said many of these guidelines were already being followed, but needed to be formalized in a new policy.

“We had changed our policy during the time of COVID to respond to the student needs and needed policy to put that in place because of course we're doing an extremely different, alternative, which was everyone was online,” Trumier said.

Alternative program models are defined in the policy may include and are not limited to online learning, in-person learning, experiential learning and hybrid learning.

The board approved the policy during the meeting.

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald