SASKATOON -- Elementary and high school students across Saskatchewan are now turning to online learning as a result of classes being cancelled last month due to COVID-19.

Some school divisions have already implemented online classes, while Monday will be the first day for others. 

“We hope everybody is understanding that we’re not trying to perfectly replicate what goes on in classrooms, just providing opportunities for students to continue their learning. So, people need to make sure that their expectations are set reasonably during this difficult situation and that we’re all understanding that it’s not perfect, it’s not supposed to be perfect,” said Patrick Maze, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation. 

Maze said the goal is to continue with some semblance of the learning process for students as it is unknown when they will be able to return to the classroom. 

Right now, he said it’s optional for students to participate in online learning, causing a huge shift in the learning dynamic for both teachers and students. 

“They normally would have all of their lessons more of a hands-on delivery in the classroom, and of course switching everything to online is a huge shift. The other thing that is difficult is most of it is kind of optional for students who want to take advantage of further learning opportunities and that of course makes a huge shift in the dynamics as well when students don’t have to take part in it but some will for a variety of reasons,” Maze said.

Malvina Rapko, a work-from-home mother in Saskatoon, said her two kids, one in Grade 3 and the other in Grade 4, are continuing to learn from home. 

“Before this week, we didn’t have a curriculum to follow or anything like that, so we just got creative with our learning, and we’re pretty happy with the results of that. (My kids) do feel like they’re missing out on a little bit of math and French or science, things that I’m not the strongest at,” she said. 

Rapko said she’s taking it one step at a time, and is trying to give her kids as much of a structured day as possible, including giving them recess. 

Over the weekend, she said teachers sent out a message indicating that there would be a more structured learning plan moving ahead.

“The assignments that the kids need to complete, how much time they can have, and the setup to have an online chat with their teacher.”

Jenna Mitchell, another Saskatoon mom, said she’s having trouble keeping up with the online learning for her three daughters and stepson. 

“It’s been really difficult. All my kids learn in different ways. My oldest daughter, she is more of a visual learner, so if I draw something and show her, she gets the concept more, whereas my middle daughter, she is more of an explanation type, and my youngest daughter is all over the place, like she’ll sit down for 10 minutes at a time.” 

Mitchell said it would be easier if all teachers used the same online learning platforms and layouts.

“There’s so many different types of websites and different resources that we’re all using that it gets really confusing because I’ll miss an assignment from one kid because I have to check all of these different platforms.” 

While there have been some challenges, both Rapko and Mitchell said they are thankful for the work teachers are putting into this, and understand everyone is adjusting to this new norm.