April 9, 2020 – Candace Allan is a mom to three wonderful boys at Applewood Public School in St. Catharines. On hearing news that schools would stay closed until at least May 4, she instantly worried about how she would keep all of her kids learning after their one household laptop just broke.
“This whole situation has been kind of a shock,” said Candace. “So, when the principal said she could give us the devices we needed, it was a huge deal for our family, and I’m really grateful.”
Since schools closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the DSBN’s priority has been to transition students and teachers to an online learning environment. A challenge to this was ensuring that all students had access to devices and internet. From this, a plan to loan devices was born.
All DSBN schools contacted their families to determine their device and internet access needs. We then consulted with Public Health to ensure the distribution plan kept student and staff health top of mind. On April 3, schools started distributing Chromebooks. In just two days, the number of devices loaned out reached over 4,000; and it’s still growing. The next phase is to issue 1,500 internet packages, each with three months of coverage.
Candance’s children, Peyton (Grade 3), Liam (Grade 2), and Jamie (S.K.), have now been equipped with technology so they can connect with their teachers and get their learning done from home.
“Without the support, I would’ve had nowhere to start,” emphasized Candace. “But with the technology we need, some curriculum to follow, and being completely connected to their teachers, it’s made our lives that much easier.”
Reasons for needing access to technology looks different for everyone. It can be due to a new or existing financial situation, parents now using the house computers to work from home, having multiple kids in the house who each need to get online to learn, or limited internet access based on where they live.
“We’re relying on and supporting each other in ways we never have before,” said Applewood’s principal Kate Fish. “We all have a common goal to keep our students learning. I’m so impressed with how patient and positive our community has been through this.”
“Our staff and families have worked together during this unusual time to support student learning,” said DSBN Director of Education Warren Hoshizaki. “We want to do what we can to make sure students have the resources they need to learn from home.”
“I mean it when I say I want to thank everyone who’s been helping us,” said Candace. “Teachers, volunteers, principals, and other staff who have been orchestrating this behind the scenes. Thanks to you, you’ve made the challenge of learning at home a lot less challenging.”