The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) announced phase one of its homeschool assistance strategy for students during the pandemic. The UCDSB is distributing more than 1900 school laptop computers with first priority going to its secondary school student population and also to students with special education needs.
“It’s important that we get devices into the hands of our secondary students that need it first,” stated Stephen Sliwa, UCDSB education director, “as the stakes are a bit higher for these students if they cannot participate in distance learning.”
The UCDSB is loaning out district laptops which use the Windows 10 program system, and each computer is reconfigured for home use. The school district set up a needs survey to get a list of students who need a home computer to be able to take part in the online studies curriculum which the Education Ministry set up for homebound students during the pandemic.
The district has contacted parents of students to arrange for curbside pick-ups of the computer at local secondary schools. “It was important that we got devices into the hands of our secondary students that need it first,” stated Sliwa, “as the stakes are a bit higher for these students if they cannot participate in distance learning. We want our graduating students to be fully prepared for post-secondary school, or the world of work, next year.”
The next phase of the UCDSB online learning aid program is to find and prepare laptop computers for distribution to elementary students in need of them. The UCDSB will also review the ministry’s announcement of an Apple/Rogers partnership for online learning assistance.
The UCDSB has also developed a series of booklets for two-weeks’ worth of activities for Kindergarten to Grade 8, which it will mail out to about 1000 students. These booklets are meant to assist elementary-level students who may not have Internet access at home.
The district will continue with its elementary school mailouts and also continue with its online needs survey for parents of homebound students. The survey is available through the UCDSB website or parents can call toll-free 1-888-593-5556.