A variety of programs and assistance offered by Student Services at Southeast Cornerstone Public School Division were detailed during an online presentation by Student Services coordinator Cheryl Anderson and Learning Supports coordinator Tracey Kiliwnik.
The hour-long, detailed and data driven report was shared with South East Cornerstone Public School Division trustees during a virtual meeting held on Wednesday.
Anderson and Kiliwnik, the two professional leaders, tag-teamed the offering as they explored the data and charts that were offered online to bolster their verbal report.
Kiliwnik said educational support was offered on three tiers that included core, targeted or intensive. She said 80 per cent of the general student population responds positively to Tier 1 supports while five per cent require intensive support.
Anderson noted teachers in all of the division’s 38 schools and online services support the strategy and research for early intervention, which they suggested was a key to success since intentional planning can then take place and the type of intervention required is sorted out more immediately and total learning needs of all students are then known.
To do all this, Anderson said, involves various professionals and supporting staff members who often work in team environments. A mental health consultant, Raylene Forseth, was brought on board to help address prevention strategies involved with mental health issues such as suicide and anxiety, thanks in large part to the ongoing pandemic concerns and fears. Forseth developed a plan containing practical ideas behind self-care. Some additional focus was placed on First Nations and middle years students with tool kits that could be added to the middle years curriculum.
English as an Additional Language (EAL) was another area of Student Services addressed by the presentation team. The five levels of assistance for those learning English are currently being delivered to 488 students, a slight drop from the 523 who were engaged in that process in the last academic year. The presenters felt that was due mainly to a slowdown in immigration due to the pandemic.
“Once they reach a B2 level they should be successful in comprehension and working in English,” said Anderson. The actual reading and writing in English are the more difficult tasks versus the speaking and listening skills. These classes have continued even during the COVID slowdown and restrictions. There has been a drop in tutorial time created to support students, which has garnered some participation.
Kiliwnik spoke about intensive needs students, the assessments and what is needed to help them. Her graphs noted a slight upward trend to now have 190 students on the charts, including students engaged in the division’s online schooling brought to them by Cyber Stone.
“Some students have multiple disabilities,” she said as she led the members through a series of informational charts that listed the various disabilities such as physical or intellectual. One chart noted how intensive supports reach the highest numbers for students in Grades 6 and 9. Some students deal with complex behaviour issues.
“It’s been a struggle for them since we went online because to work with them is much better in a face-to-face session. But some great plans were developed and they kept up their connections. Videos were sent back and forth and there were wonderful ‘come together’ events,” said Kiliwnik. The family engagements were kept flexible and were well attended online since travel plans were reduced.
Anderson then spoke about response to intervention and the assignment of coaches for supplemental learning in such areas as math and literacy with online resources again being implemented.
Education psychologist data and assessments were down significantly due to the existing conditions and again, it was noted that in-person sessions are the desired avenues to take. However, with the new regulations in play, support for students and families did continue with home activity resources developed to assist parents who were helping their kids.
Kiliwnik also spoke about the advancements made on the Jordan’s Principle files that assisted First Nations students with challenges. Shannon Shakotko is the lead consultant for that area, the coordinator said. Students from ages six to 18 are connected to counselling supports and projects dealing with spiritual and cultural as well as trauma issues. A needs assessment model is being worked on to see if a group home model for reservations can be seen as realistic and an application approved. There are currently 29 students from the three First Nations reserves included in the SECPSD region engaged in this program.
Anderson then spoke about the Southeast Saskatchewan Hub that involves not only the SECPSD and Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division, but also justice, police, health and social services professionals who conduct weekly meetings to exchange information and seek assistance from one another to deal with emerging or ongoing problems or issues. Anderson said the case numbers have dropped over the past few months due to the pandemic, but were up in 2019 compared with the five previous years. “The community partners and members are working well together.”
Suicidal intervention data collection has dropped, again due to the virus, but attempts at suicide were down so Anderson said that was filed in the “very good news” category by all agencies. She said videos developed to help parents monitor youngsters to ensure such things as screen time was being budgeted carefully and sleeping conditions and times were adequate to assist them.
The Review 360 Project is a management system that tracks behaviour trends and helps put intervention plans in place. This involves decision-driven data collection and with accountability in place, school or other suspensions are reduced and the practice saves time for everyone and improves communication, Anderson said.
Occupational therapists have taken an ‘out of school’ model to contract their services to help students with intensive needs with intervention models to bring about emotional balance and self-regulation needs.
Anderson spoke briefly about the $49,000 in grants they received from the Breakfast Club of Canada and South Saskatchewan Community Foundation to support a nutrition program during the COVID period. That programming provided meals prepared by commercial cooking leaders at Weyburn and Estevan Comprehensive Schools for 250 families. She said the budget is now pretty well exhausted and the program will probably conclude near the end of February.
The final report submitted by Kiliwnik spoke of educational assistants receiving supplemental learning to help them assist special needs students during the pandemic. She said the “students have been troopers regarding the wearing of masks. Some little ones struggle with masks on buses, so we have other transportation plans, but otherwise all are doing well.”