There’s going to be a learning curve at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary as students and teachers return to school this week.
Principal Geoff Butcher said while staff are preparing to make this school year as “normal” as possible, it’s going to be a lot of changes as teachers reinforce safety measures and prepare lessons for longer classes during the new quarter-system this year. Students are slated to return to school on Sept. 10 and 11 for orientations with a full return to classes on Monday, Sept. 14.
Under the new timetable this year, students will spend two hours and 45 minutes in class for 10 weeks before swapping over to two new classes. The longer classes mean teachers will have to be flexible in delivering content to keep students engaged, Butcher said, such as taking them outside for half the class. This could include having them go outside to draw for an art class or do some creative writing.
“Teachers are going to have to adjust a little bit and find ways to alleviate the pent-up stress in the classroom,” Butcher said. “Maybe embedding the learning outside for English or social studies. It’s just so kids can get out of their seats.”
The new system means the school can no longer provide distributed learning and the old ‘hybrid’ model – teachers will teach in the classroom only – as “the workload to provide that kind of service plus teach in class would be too much,” Butcher said. The school will also eliminate specific blocks for learning assistance. In a letter to parents, Butcher noted the requirement to create Learning Groups “has put a severe strain on our ability to offer all the classes we managed to offer as in previous years.”
Instead, students will be pulled out of the specific class they’re struggling in to get one-on-one help. The school has one learning assistance teacher, but Butcher said they may bring in others, depending on the need.
“The [new timetable] provides less flexibility for us to support kids with learning abilities and get them help,” he said. “We’re going to have more of a pull-out system for kids in class.”
Students will be phased into school this week, with half the students – surnames A-L – coming in on Thursday with M-Z surnames on Friday. Students in Grades 8-10 will be with other students of their same grade for their classes, except in some special situations, while Grade 11/12 students will be grouped together with the same students for both a morning and afternoon class. The classes will change but for the most part, the students will be with a smaller cohort than 120, usually around 60.
At lunch, there is no requirement for students to stay in the learning group, provided they follow physical distance requirements and wear a mask. Other health and safety protocols include:
• Requiring students to wash their hands before entering the school, before and after they eat lunch, and prior to getting buses at the end of the day.
• Having hand-sanitizing stations at every entrance, as well as in every room.
• Requiring students and staff to wear masks while in public areas, such as hallways, the library, buses etc., unless they are medically unable to do so.
• Issuing students two reusable masks which will be distributed by the bus drivers, or at the office if the student does not ride a bus.
Butcher notes anyone who is sick must stay at home, while any staff or students who get sick during the day will be isolated and sent home immediately. Parents who need to come to the school to a teacher or administrator are also asked to call ahead for an appointment, Butcher said.
Outsiders who come to school must abide by the requirements regarding physical distancing, masks, and proper hand-washing hygiene.
The PSO Return to School Plan and other useful documents can be found on the SD27 website and at peterskeneogden.ca