The good news is school will be back in September

Weyburn This Week editorial

Teachers and other staff, students and their families must have all exhaled a sigh of relief on Tuesday, as Saskatchewan’s Education minister Gord Wyant made it official: school will be back in session this fall.

The current school year has been shelved, and schools are in windup mode right now as they seek to finish out this disjointed school year in a good way.

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Thanks to the use of technology, most any student who wanted to take online supplemental learning in the southeast Saskatchewan region was able to do so, whether through Holy Family or the Southeast Cornerstone School Division, with the provision of a laptop if the family needed.

For those in Grade 12, the marks they had on March 20 when classes were suspended would be their final mark, but thankfully they were given the option to improve their marks if possible through the supplemental learning.

Depending on what plans they had for post-secondary learning, this was a good option to provide for them, although online learning isn’t always a good substitute for what they could do in the classroom.

While other provinces dabbled in letting students back into school, Saskatchewan made the right move by simply keeping schools closed for the time being.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a rather large wrench into the works for everyone, and its effects are being felt across Canada and around the world in much the same way, some places worse than others. Whether for business, for industry, for families, communities, health care — whatever sector one looks at, the pandemic has done a real number in disrupting lives and the economy.

It will take a huge effort over a long time for life to get back to normal, and for schools, they at least will have the summer to prepare for what’s coming in September. If there is a second wave, there will be contingency plans in place to adjust accordingly if needed at a regional or provincial level.

We can all hope this won’t be necessary — a second wave that’s as bad or worse than what we’ve just gone through would be devastating. Everyone needs a return to a “normal” life with a normal level of interaction with other human beings.

Zoom and related apps worked well for what was needed, but with the understanding that this was a temporary requirement due to COVID. Nobody wants that to be a permanent state of affairs, because it’s a poor substitute for face-to-face interactions.

Living through a pandemic is an experience no one is likely to ever forget. Let’s hope that the lessons learned will be valuable ones, and that future lessons for our students will be of the more traditional kind, that’s provided in a classroom by a teacher.