The Louis Riel School Division (LRSD) is finding new ways to stay connected with its diverse newcomer community.
With students learning from home, communication between schools and families is more important than ever. That’s why the division recently put together an employee language inventory, which allows principals to connect teachers with LRSD interpreters.
“The intention is to have a system in place that allows for real-time interpretation between teachers and newcomer families,” said Tim MacKay, Director of English as an Additional Language (EAL) and the International Student Program. “We won’t have a comprehensive list that matches all of the languages in the community, but the hope is to bridge the language gap for as many families as possible.”
Staff surveyed all of LRSD’s 40 schools to identify the languages spoken by staff. The final list includes more than 70 staff members that speak a combined 36 languages.
EAL teachers are also continuing to provide language programming for students through phone calls, Microsoft Teams and other remote learning opportunities.
Newcomers Employment and Education Development Services (N.E.E.D.S) Inc. is helping add to the division’s interpretation supports as well. The non-profit organization has extended its services of ‘in demand’ language interpretation to the division at no-cost.
“We greatly appreciate the collaboration we have with schools and the LRSD in supporting students," said Margaret von Lau, CEO of N.E.E.D.S. "We want to ensure that our services, which include a multitude of languages for interpretation, are made readily available to the division as a whole to support students and families during this challenging time.”