Original Published 20:11 Apr 20, 2022

By Maggie Macintosh, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Calling its emergency remote operations during last week’s storm a successful trial, Pembina Trails School Division wants to share lessons learned from a “test drive of the 21st-century approach to education.”

The metro division in south Winnipeg stood alone in pivoting to e-learning April 13-14, as opposed to canceling classes outright as Winnipeg, Seven Oaks, Louis Riel, St. James-Assiniboia and River East Transcona did.

As forecasts of a treacherous blizzard started to make headlines, Pembina Trails requested its employees bring home their work technology in the event blustery conditions shuttered in-person classes before the Easter long weekend.

In an email April 11, superintendent Ted Fransen told staff members to anticipate a shift to remote learning.

At the time, meteorologists estimated 30 to 50 centimetres of snow would hit Winnipeg as a Colorado low weather system made its way up through the Prairies.

“Remote learning is not something you can do on a whim. It’s absolutely dependent on having some time to prepare — and we did,” Fransen told the Free Press, after in-person classes resumed this week.

“If the storm hit Wednesday morning without any warning, it would’ve been a very different situation.”

While Fransen acknowledged attendance varied between cohorts in the division, he indicated some teachers reported 100 per cent attendance to virtual classes last week.

The value of lead time is a key takeaway from this pilot, he said, adding with sufficient notice and access to technology, a remote learning stint unrelated to COVID-19 is a viable option for emergency learning.

This item reprinted with permission from Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg, Manitoba