Hub learning challenging for one large low-income Calgary family
CALGARY -- A single-father of six children, five of whom are enrolled in the Calgary Board of Education’s Hub online learning program, thought the course load could be managed with two iPads among them.
However, after just a short time, he says meeting the schedule has become too challenging.
Hub learning is a unique program offered during the 2020-2021 academic year as an option for students not attending in-person classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ian Quayle says he chose the option because couldn’t risk his children getting sick by sending them to school. He says two of his daughters endured several hospitalizations when they contracted respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), pneumonia and bronchiolitis when they were little. The illnesses have left both girls immuno-compromised, he says.
"Now when they get sick, they really get sick and, as a parent, I don’t want to go through what I did when they were younger," he said while holding back tears.
The Hub includes five to six hours of course instruction per week, all of which is delivered online.
The timing is set by the core teachers — and there is little flexibility in the schedule as it involves all students in the class being online together.
Quayle says he asked administration if instruction for his children could be staggered as some of his children’s class times conflict but he was told "that’s not how Hub online works."
In a statement, a CBE spokesperson told CTV News families were provided with a great deal of information about how the program would work.
"In August, when we provided information about the hub online learning option for families, it was made clear that reliable access to technology was one of the considerations a family must make before choosing to register their children in Hub.
"(An) Internet connection as well as a laptop, computer or Chromebook are required for students registered in Hub. We cannot guarantee that loaner devices will be available, but families may consider reaching out to their principal to discuss what options may exist for technology support."
Affording the costs of devices for the large family is an issue for Quayle, who is receiving medical income support through Alberta Works after a number of workplace injuries.
"I don’t know anyone for that matter that can just walk out and buy five laptops, here you go, and not feel that in the bank," Quayle said. "A tablet battery doesn’t last that long."
Quayle says he has applied for the CBE's Home Education School which would allow parent-led instruction and scheduling at his direction.
The CBE says a transition from Hub learning to in-person classes is possible only at one point midway through this school year, as long as the school is notified by Jan. 8.
There is no opportunity to transition the other way, from in-person classes to the Hub, at all during the 2020-21 school year.