Education Sector Wants Posts on Centralized Online Learning Shift: STF – Regina Leader Post | Team Cansler

“This is a complete system that will be built in less than a year.”

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The Saskatchewan Teachers’ Association has raised concerns about the government’s plan to centralize online learning in the province.

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The Government announced in October that a new Treasury Board Crown Corporation would be formed to oversee the consolidated system, which is due to begin in the 2023-24 school year.

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According to a press release issued on Oct. 6, students from kindergarten through 12th grade from across the province would use the system to access online learning, which is offered from multiple locations. Teachers across the province would have the opportunity to work as part of the online school plan.

While the system will be available to all students, the move to consolidate online learning applies only to public school departments.

Separate school divisions, the covert écoles fransaskoises and qualified independent schools can offer their own online learning through an application process to the Ministry of Education.

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Speaking to the media on Tuesday, STF President Samantha Becotte said the union wanted the government to delay its timetable for the platform to ensure the best possible outcome for students.

Teachers have raised a number of issues with the plan, she said — particularly with the creation of a Crown Corporation and the centralization aspect.

“Teachers are members of their communities and they know their students and they know their different needs,” Becotte said. “Removing that is a cause for concern.”

This entails ensuring the needs of students across the province are met, she added, which means addressing barriers such as access to technology or unreliable internet services.

The government says it is working on determining the platform’s staffing and funding models, as well as selecting a platform provider.

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Given the scale of the endeavor, Becotte said education stakeholders are seeing the province slowing down and want to take the time to ensure the system is rolled out properly. That means counseling, she said.

“This is a complete system that will be built in less than a year. We do not have a government online or distance learning policy. And we don’t have the answers to some of these big questions that I’ve already presented,” she said.

Two letters have been sent to the Department of Education since the announcement, Becotte said. One addressed general concerns from education stakeholders and asked for confirmation that they would be consulted before the plan is finalized. The second specifically addressed teachers’ concerns about the centralized system.

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Becotte said the ministry had acknowledged receipt of the first letter and promised a reply. But there has yet to be a government invitation for consultations, she said.

“We fear they won’t get it right because there is no plan to consult with teachers, parents and education partners.”

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