According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), more than 87 per cent of the student population (1.5 billion children and youth) worldwide is impacted by school closures.
The challenge is unprecedented, yet in the Louis Riel School Division (LRSD), we’re not alone in trying to lessen the educational disruption and enable learning from home. Governments, school systems and schools need to learn from and support each other as we plan for learning to continue while we take extraordinary social distancing measures to slow the spread of the virus.
In these early days of the suspension of classes in LRSD, I am so encouraged by the spirit of community I am witnessing amongst students, staff and parents/guardians. Those who know me, know I’m a bit of a data geek. Those who know me well, know I have many interests that extend beyond data literacy 😊. With that caveat, I’d like to share a few statistics from last week about the transition to support learning from home.
On Friday, staff sent out almost 74,000 emails to parents and students. Before the pandemic, we would send between 11 and 16 thousand emails on a typical day.
The LRSD Information Services department created 2,695 Microsoft Teams for teachers to use to stay in touch with students. Just this week, on Class MySite
(another way for teachers to communicate with students and parents) there have been:
· 2,400 messages
· 83 school-based messages generated by school offices
· More than 55,000 emails generated When the annoucement was made to suspend classes on March 13, LRSD used a text messaging service to inform 15,268 parents/guardians of the news. This was the first time the division had used such a wide-spread mobile texting strategy.
Since the suspension of classes, our website had 129,252 visitors with 442,559 pageviews on our website, parent portal and intranet sites. Stories about LRSD’s response to the pandemic were updated daily and parents/guardians were made aware of the new or updated information through daily email campaigns. The 10 email campaigns to parents/guardians over the past 11 days received 95,296 opens and 68,860 clicks. Compared to campaigns sent out before the pandemic, open rates were up an average of 24 per cent, while the click rate rose by an average of 23 per cent.
The LRSD community was also notified of updates to our website through social media. The LRSD Twitter
, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts received a total of 26,575 impressions and 3,346 engagements on the posts about COVID-19.
This snapshot of data I’ve shared speaks to the keen engagement of our families. Thanks for your support! It also underscores the importance of communication in these unprecedented times. Communication is at the heart of our efforts to support educational continuance
for our students. As we move forward, we will work to balance the number of communications sent divisionally with those sent by individual schools and teachers so as to not overwhelm families. On that note, let me end by saying that communication remains, as always, a shared responsibility. If parents or students are experiencing any concerns related to educational continuance, please first communicate with the teacher.
If you're unable to resolve your concern, the next points of contact should be the school's principal/vice-principal, then the liaise Superintendent, then the Superintendent. If the concern is not resolved after this, you may direct it in writing to the Louis Riel School Board.
With the situation evolving day-by-day and at times, hour-by-hour, we are considering many ideas related to lessening the impact of the pandemic on learning. Our considerations extend beyond simply implementing distance learning technologies. We are thinking of the many ways this crisis is impacting the lives of our families. With social distancing measures likely to continue for an extended period, we need to consider the social and psychological dimensions of this crisis. We want to be careful to not overburden parents with our learning continuation efforts. These efforts also need to incorporate well-being and mental health supports to families and staff. Guided by our Multi-Year Strategic Plan
and its principles of equity and inclusion, we will continue to work in close collaboration with government, our neighbouring school divisions and each other to support our learners and families through this pandemic.
- Christian Michalik, Superintendent