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Lack of teachers pushes Milk River students to online learning

A teacher shortage has forced grade 12 students at Erle Rivers high to move to online learning A teacher shortage has forced grade 12 students at Erle Rivers high to move to online learning
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MILK RIVER, Alta. -

Grade 12 students at Erle Rivers High School in Milk River received quite the shock earlier this month.

That's when they discovered their math and chemistry classes were moving to an online learning format after no teachers were available to teach in person.

The teacher previously teaching both math and chemistry went on maternity leave.

The Horizon School Board, which oversees the school, posted the job opening, but no teachers applied.

The decision was then made to move the grade 12 math and chemistry classes online.

It hasn’t been an easy transition for students.

“There’s a lot of frustration from the students. My daughter's in grade 12 she came home in tears yesterday. Just the math 30 on their own is a lot for them to deal with,” said Elise Walker.

CHEMISTRY AND MATH ONLINE

The chemistry and math classes have about 12 students each.

Students will meet with online instructors every Monday, but have to go through the course material themselves.

Several students complained about waiting up to 24 hours to have a question answered.

Charlie Garber, a student in these classes, said “We've been doing it online but it's kind of been a lot by ourselves unfortunately. It feels a lot like home schooling if I’m being honest. So it's been challenging.”

Adding to the students' stress level is the fact they’ll have to write a diploma exam at the end of the year. 

The school division is recruiting to add more teachers

UNPREPARED

There’s concern that the online learning environment won’t properly prepare students for their exams.

“We'll all be online until diplomas come and then that's going to be on paper. And it could be a big struggle for the fact that we've had really nothing on paper or in person,” said Grayson Thompson, one of the students concerned with how well online classes are preparing them.

Other students believe the courses have been made easier to help negate any difficulties with the online learning, which won’t help them come exam time.

“Online maybe your grades can look a lot better because they're making things so much easier at times with cheat sheets and everything," said student Trinity Dietrch. "And then you go to write a diploma on paper and you have nothing like that and it's a lot different.”

Horizon school division superintendant Dr. Wilco Tymensen said the division is actively working to address the shortage.

In a statement Wilco said “Horizon continues to take active steps to recruit teachers and when needed we explore alternatives such as partnering with other schools and school divisions and offering virtual classes.”

But barring any sudden teacher hires, it appears grade 12 students at Erle Rivers High School will be resigned to online learning for the remainder of their time in high school.

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