The Comox Valley School District has a blueprint in place for homeschooling during the pandemic.

The district’s continuity of learning includes a home-learning framework for elementary school students.

“It starts off like this: here’s our core beliefs about home learning,” explained Comox Valley School District Director of Instruction, Allan Douglas. “Our No. 1 (priority) always is relationships with our families.”

He said that the district realizes that five hours of instruction isn’t possible at home, so they chose to focus on literacy, numeracy, and health.

“Then we started to say, well, what are the roles? What do the students have to do? What does the family need to do? With the family, we need somebody that needs to be the facilitator of learning. Who’s going to help out at home? Who’s going to help the child with a routine?”

Douglas said they’re looking to start at an hour to two hours a day of home instruction.

On the education side of things, the district wants the teacher to stay in regular contact with students via phone, email, and online meetings connecting teachers with students with their peers.

“We want that connection between students,” Douglas said. “This is a lonely time for kids. Lots of kids aren’t out playing with the neighbour’s kids because everybody’s staying isolated so we wanted to help with that connection.”

Finally, the school’s responsibility is supporting students and staff. 

The continuity of learning includes a timeline:

Phase 1, reconnection, which finished last week saw:

  • Teachers checking in to see how you and your child are doing and gathering information about learning opportunities moving forward (email address, access to technology, specific learning needs, etc.);
  • During this week and in the weeks moving forward, teachers and school staff will be working to plan ways to best support and provide home learning opportunities.

Phase 2, first steps, which wrapped up this past week included:

  • Teachers sharing home learning opportunities with families
  • Teachers checking in with students on a regular basis (phone calls, emails, online conferencing, etc.);
  • Grades K to 7: The main focus was on the three key areas (health and well-being, literacy, and numeracy);
  • If your child has some personal belongings at school that they can’t do without, the school principal will communicate ways to pick them up.

Phase 3, which goes forward from here, is teachers building off of Phase 2. It will include:

  • Teachers sharing more in-depth home learning opportunities and check-in regularly with students each week moving forward
  • Teachers providing one-to-two hours of learning opportunities for students
  • And not replicating regular classroom learning; but rather, focusing on providing a variety of creative learning opportunities. Families may choose the activities and timelines that work best for their situation.

Douglas said it took a few days for the 11-member committee to put this model together. “Then it took a little bit to get it into this format. A couple of our principals worked really hard to get it this way.”

He said it presents a framework to work from during the pandemic.

“We’re putting it out there so parents know, ‘Okay, this is what I’m supposed to be doing.’ The students know what (they’re) supposed to be doing, the teacher knows what they’re doing so when we’re all in sync, we’re hoping that things will go along.”

He encouraged parents with questions to call their children’s principals at their respective schools.