In the Parent Re-entry Plan that was developed in August 2020 and shared with parents on the website, three pivot point dates are identified: Nov. 10, Jan. 31, and March 31.
Pivot Points are times in the year when a student can change programs (move from “at-home learning” to “in-school learning” or from “in-school learning” to “at-home learning”).
Following consultation with schools there will be some changes to these dates. I know that a change in plans that have been communicated can be difficult. I apologize for any difficulties this may cause and assume responsibility for this decision. I have conferred with other jurisdictions who have made changes to pivot points or are in the process of changing them given the same kind of challenges.
We are learning as we go and endeavouring to adjust decisions with a focus on what is best for students with respect to consistency, classroom dynamics, teacher/student and peer relationships and sound delivery of learning.
Pivot points were established in August with good intent. The first pivot point provided experience in navigating the complexity of change in teacher assignments, classroom configurations with some students having to change teachers in school, assessment, provision of accommodations and resourcing.
This week of at-home learning for elementary and middle school students in addition to high school students also added to difficulty with timelines given the requirement of teachers to change instructional delivery with all students receiving instruction from home and at-school learners back in the classroom next week.
The pivot point date FOR STUDENTS IN HIGH SCHOOL (grades 9-12) will remain Jan. 31. It is important to keep this date because this is the date that high schools move into the second semester. Each high school has, or will be, communicating to parents regarding the January pivot point and process for requesting change.
Given the experience of high schools with the complexity and challenge of changing students from at-home learning to in-school learning or visa versa mid semester, this will be the last pivot point for high school students. Because the course offerings for at-home learning and in-school learning do not align perfectly, it was found to be very difficult to make a change for students mid-semester. This is not to say that schools will not work with individuals with difficult or challenging circumstances to meet the needs of students.
ELEMENTARY AND MIDDLE SCHOOLS
With the previous pivot point occurring on Nov. 10, elementary and middle schools have expressed that the shift in classes (both at-home classes and in-school classes) that accompanied the change of students was challenging and it took some time to re-establish relationships, routines and ensure that every student adjusted in a positive way to the new configurations.
Given that it took time for re-configuration and adjustment, that in-school learning was interrupted this week and that schools feel that students need to re-settle into the pre-Christmas routines that had been established, it has been decided to move the second pivot point to a later date. The pivot point FOR STUDENTS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AND MIDDLE SCHOOL will be moved to Monday, Feb. 22 (the Monday following the Family Day week students spend at home). This is two weeks of instructional time later than the original date. It gives schools time over the week break in February to adjust and prepare for the change.
It will also give parents more time to consider the provincial context with respect to the status of COVID-19 a few weeks beyond the Christmas break and feel comfortable with their decision. The information and survey for this February pivot point will be posted on the School Division website on Jan. 27. The request for change will remain open until Feb. 4.
This will give schools time to re-assign students and adjust teacher assignments for the Feb. 22 change. The February pivot point will be the last pivot point for elementary and middle school students for the school year.
Dr. Cheryl Gilmore
Superintendent of Schools
Lethbridge School Division