–Source: BC Ministry of Education
More than 23,000 computers and devices are being loaned out in every part of the province, so students can access the internet and continue their education while in-class learning is suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immediately after spring break, school staff began contacting families to find out their unique needs. School districts then began creating solutions that would work best for their local communities.
School districts heard there are families who have no computer for their children to use, with some finding up to 30% of families surveyed had no access to technology at all. There were also cases where there was only one computer in the home being used by a parent for full-time work. Districts also heard from families who have limited Wi-Fi or no access to internet or cellphone service.
To meet the needs of families, school district staff have worked quickly to identify and collect equipment already available in schools, while also purchasing extra computers, laptops, tablets and other devices. Some school districts have redeployed their computer technicians to pre-install learning software or to provide tech support for families who struggle to use technology.
To help kids who do not have adequate internet access, school districts have worked with internet service providers to ensure families have low-cost internet or unlimited cellphone data plans. Local internet hotspots have also been created to ensure free Wi-Fi is available to multiple families in a neighbourhood.
In situations where students are living in remote regions with little or no internet or cellphone access, education assistants have been delivering printed learning packages or flash thumb drives with everything the student needs for continued learning at home. Some schools are allowing students access to school computer labs, and some First Nations have opened their band offices for students, while maintaining the strict health and safety standards set by the provincial health officer.
To support families looking for additional resources to help their children learn remotely, the Ministry of Education has created the Keep Learning website, which is updated almost daily with new activities for kids of any age. The website receives hundreds of thousands of visitors and page views every week and can be found at: www.openschool.bc.ca/KeepLearning
- In addition to equipment support, there are approximately:
- 2,300 spaces created in schools to support children of essential-service workers in public schools and 1,280 spaces in independent schools; and
- 75,000 meals delivered to 16,000 families for vulnerable children every week.
- The Ministry of Education has secured and funded enterprise licences with added security features for the application Zoom for all K-12 public, independent and First Nations schools in the province. This allows consistent access for educators who choose to use it, giving them more ways to connect with students, parents and guardians.
- The Ministry of Education worked with the privacy commissioner to create a set of guidelines for educators when using any online tools: https://www.oipc.bc.ca/guidance-documents/2402
- Accurate, timely information about schools, programs and educational services, including regularly updated frequently asked questions in multiple languages, is available at: www.gov.bc.ca/SafeSchools
- For the latest medical updates, including case counts, prevention, risks and testing, visit: http://www.bccdc.ca/
Or follow @CDCofBC on Twitter.
- For the provincial health officer’s orders, notices and guidance, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/phoguidance
- For non-health related information, including financial, child care and education supports, travel, transportation and essential service information, visit: www.gov.bc.ca/Covid-19
Or call 1 888 COVID19 (1 888 268-4319) between 7:30 a.m. and 8 p.m. (Pacific time), seven days a week.