Local school boards offering at-home learning option

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

While in-class study is the default for the fall, school boards are offering at-home learning options because of COVID-19. Traditional homeschooling or distance education are also options.

There is a meme going around social media urging parents to keep their children enrolled in public school until after September 30. However this is based on the old model of school funding. Also, this would mean that parents wouldn’t receive homeschool funding.

School funding
Starting September 2020, Alberta schools will be funded with a new funding model.

The ‘Funding manual for school authorities 2020/21 school year’ was published on June 18, 2020 and updated on July 9.

It says the budget from 2019 will apply until 2023/24. After that a three-year weighted average will be used.

This suggests that low enrollment in 2020/21, doesn’t have a direct impact on this year’s funding for schools.

There are three school divisions and one private Christian school in the Kinuso, Slave Lake, and Smith area. These are High Prairie, Aspen View, and Living Waters Catholic School Divisions, and Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School.

An undated document on the Alberta government’s website has the expected operational funding for the 2020/21 school year for area school divisions. Aspen View is $35,553,734 (up from $35,211,000). High Prairie is $38,514,352 (up from $37,455,000). Living Waters is $22,366,687 (up from $22,105,000). Koinonia isn’t listed.

Homeschool funding
In Alberta, traditional homeschoolers receive around $600 to $700 a year for curriculum, says Mary Dyck, a local homeschool coordinator. Depending on the books and courses chosen by the parents, this is either enough money or only covers about half.

Dyck lives in Widewater. For the last eight years, she’s coordinated homeschoolers from Kinuso to Smith, through Harvest Baptist Academy out of Spruce Grove. She is in the process of retiring from in-class teaching at Slave Lake Koinonia Christian School.

Dyck has families who are doing traditional homeschooling, online schooling, and a combination of the two. In traditional homeschooling, the parents decide on the curriculum within a set framework. In online, the students register with an online school, and do the full Alberta curriculum. In this case, funding goes to the school directly.

The deadline for homeschoolers to receive funding is September 30.

at-home learning
Living Waters Catholic School 2020-2021 Relaunch Handbook includes at-home learning.

This will be different from the schooling done in the spring. K to Grade 4 will be weekly tutorials, but not online lessons. Grade 7-12 will be part of the existing blended program called ‘Outreach – Across the Waters.’ This is module-based with weekly tutorials.

With at-home learning, “students are expected to complete all courses in the 2020-21, not just focus on numeracy and literacy.”

Students can start at-home learning at any time, but can only transfer from at-home to in-class at the start of a term. The terms are September-November; November-March, and March-June.

The High Prairie School Division 2020-21 Re-Entry Handbook says, “High Prairie School Division is able to provide learning opportunities to students who choose to remain at home and learn. This model would be similar to what was offered when in-person classes were cancelled in March due to COVID-19. Students would have the ability to rejoin in-person classes at the beginning of each quarter semester.”

Students who choose distance learning, homeschooling, or anther school board cannot return after September 30.

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