Message From Mrs. Shepherd - Regarding Temporary Shift to Online Learning

Good evening parents and guardians,

You can watch the message by using this link, or you can read below. 

https://youtu.be/ft_D_Cm2mIo

Today we have had four positive cases of COVID-19 in our school continuing to impact our Grade 7 and Grade 12 cohorts exclusively.  

In addition, we have high community rates that are impacting transmission outside of school with many students isolating due to cases outside of WEHSSC.   In addition to that, we have a number of families who have chosen to make the decision to keep children home - for medical reasons, to safeguard parent's ability to work, extracurricular, sports, child care for younger siblings... the list is endless and families are just trying to make things work in this complicated situation.  There is no judgement from me.

How it plays out in the school is that today, we had at least 42% of our students who were away for all of the above reasons.  We have teachers teaching dual platform out of the kindness of their hearts and would continue to do so if asked.  

We have seven weeks of school left and so much learning left to do.  With no changes to Alberta Education requirements we still have curriculum to cover to ensure that students are set up for success in the years to come. 

On the weekend, we were able to make a temporary move to a single class (Gr. 7.) online.  Superintendents can only make those decisions for portions of the school.  Today, Superintendent Brenda MacDonald applied for a temporary two week shift to online learning for WEHSSC Gr 7-12 and it has just been approved this evening. 

As such, our entire school will be shifting for two weeks to online learning.  This is not an easy decision - many of you will be frustrated.  I understand because I also want students in our school.  While I know that teachers and support staff will do amazing work with our students online, it isn't ideal.  Rising rates and our current situation has reached a tipping point and action needs to be taken sooner rather than later so rates can get under control before our final stretch of the school year so that we do not have to continue to send students home to isolate for weeks at a time.  We want continuity for our students and right now, we can not provide that in our current format.   Moving online also allows our teachers to focus their instruction exclusively to one platform so the quality can be maintained for all.   

As you know, I believe in routine, structure and predictability as ways to help regulate student stress.  We will operate our online learning in the same way as we did in November, where we run our regular timetable and students attend classes at those times.  I also need to make clear that this is not like learning last spring - students must still complete their work to get their credits.  Assignments and assessments will be modified for the online world, but will still take place.  We will also be organizing enhancement activities to support mental health and physical health. 

Tomorrow, Tuesday, May 4th will be an organizational day.  Students can come into the school at anytime to collect their items that they would need for the next two weeks.  Teachers will use the time to transition and prepare their virtual classrooms for learning to resume online on Wednesday, May 3rd. 

Once again, I know that this is a challenging situation.  This is a decision that has not been made lightly, nor is it one that I want to make, but we are unable to continue to operate our school in the current context.  I look forward to welcoming kids tomorrow as they collect their items and seeing them in the building again on Tuesday, May 18th. 

The letter to parents can also be viewed HERE.

Take care, 

Myranda Shepherd 

Wm. E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus and Stettler Outreach School

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