This is the sixth report in a series, noted previously, that highlights the announcements, supports, and policy changes each Canadian jurisdiction made to continue to promote learning throughout the pandemic. The series is sponsored by the Canadian eLearning Network (CANeLearn), a leading voice in Canada for learner success in K-12 online and blended learning. Researchers gathered information for each province and territory through government websites, educational organizations, and current news releases that highlighted each jurisdiction’s strategies to provide supports, resources, and technologies appropriate for the continuation of teaching and learning. A website was created to host the report series, along with an archive of online workshop presentations based on each report.
This sixth report consolidates details found in the previous reports that provided a summary of the publicly announced accommodations made to ensure continuity of learning during the pandemic from the Spring 2020 and throughout the 2020-21 school year. Data were collected by consulting various existing collections of data related to the response from various provinces and territories including important dates, learning models, and health and safety measures. Additional data were gleaned from general internet searches conducted of news releases, major news sources, and general searches which were used to corroborate or extend the above mentioned collections. The authors also made use of the existing networks that had been developed by CANeLearn, as well as the longstanding State of the Nation: K-12 e-Learning in Canada research project (Barbour et al., 2020a; Barbour et al., 2020b).
Following the shutdowns in Spring 2020 and emergency remote teaching, the 2020-21 school year launched with a focus on safe return to in school learning with limited attention to remote access to learning. As the year progressed, it was evident that lessons that could, or should, have been learned in Spring 2020 had not been heeded in all provinces and territories. Some jurisdictions did not put in place the necessary planning or preparation to allow the 2020-21 school year to proceed in the expected ‘toggle term’ fashion – as envisioned by Phase 3 of the educational response to COVID-19. While some schools remained open throughout the entire 2020-21 school year and others offered robust online learning instruction, some jurisdictions experienced province-wide school closures for up to 19 weeks, relying on remote learning that saw limited success and an inequitable learning experience for many students due in part to a lack of planning and teacher training. While many teachers in most jurisdictions were at first unprepared to transition to remote learning, during the 2020-21 school year some teachers were better positioned to provide continuity of learning than others. Several jurisdictions provided specific teacher training for remote learning and school closure, while others expanded the use of centralized e-learning programs to provide online course content and other online tools that teachers could use with their students as they learned from home.
This report goes further than previous reports, describing the face-to-face, online, remote, and hybrid learning options provided across Canada. The report offers comparison and analysis of the different learning models used in the provinces and territories and provides a glimpse at the challenges and issues beginning in the new 2021-22 school year. The report calls for additional research to further understand decisions made by governments, school boards, and schools during the pandemic, the influence of those decisions on the experiences of students and teachers, and the successes and future implications of those decisions.