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Continuing education during lockdown

DARIUS SHAHHEYDARI
PONTIAC April 22, 2020
Students of the Pontiac Continuing Education Centre (PCEC) in Shawville have been given the opportunity to continue to learn new material from home and to have one-on-one conversations with their professors amid social distancing measures combating the spread of COVID-19.
Schools in Quebec have been directed by Quebec Premier FranÇois Legault to remain closed until May 4. A couple of weeks ago, Legault added he will not be allowing these institutions to reopen without an agreement with the public and his own assurance that students and teachers will not be at risk when it is time to do so, after protests broke out in regards to a statement he has made the day before saying there is a possibility schools will reopen before May 4.
PCEC falls under this mandate and is now closed. Teachers are in the process of calling their respective students individually once a week, but if students decide they would rather not receive calls, teachers must respect their decision.
“Our focus is serving students and finding out what their situation is and what their needs are in regards to learning, but we always have to make sure we know what our boundaries are because teachers are not trained counselors or psychologists,” said PCEC Director Jennifer Dubeau.
The Ministry of Education has not put out an incentive for adult students to be learning new materials, which is the same situation that the younger students in elementary or high school are in at the moment.
However, a directive earlier this month asked teachers and support personnel to provide optional online learning to students who would like to do so. At the PCEC, this online learning is available by phone or through email and applies to any academic courses, such as math, English or French, but excludes optional courses, such as music.
“It goes by program in whether or not we deem it possible for the students to continue their learning,” said Dubeau. “Right now, the ministry has recognized that everybody’s situation is different at home. Some [of our students] are for children, some of our students are caring for elderly parents, some students don’t have internet access. It’s unfair to say everybody has to do this.”
For instance, It is confirmed that, as of April 27, PCEC’s accounting and secretarial students will have the chance to continue their learning from a distance because the classes are organized in an “individualized delivery format”.
Although learning could continue online for some students, the exams must be written on premises, so PCEC must wait for the restrictions to be lifted prior to examination in all cases. Once all students return to their classes, they will be provided some time to review before writing their exam.
Despite only some students being able to continue their studies from home, evaluations would not pose a problem. All classes are individualized, meaning no two students are ever writing an exam at the same time.
Since PCEC doesn’t know when students can come in and start writing exams, there are no plans yet made for graduation ceremonies online, since they do not know who will be graduating to begin with.
None of PCEC’s extracurricular activities, such as concerts, will be taking place during this time. Any trips that were planned were also cancelled, as well as the lunch hour workshops and sports tournaments, since the school is closed.

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