CALGARY -- Hundreds of students from the University of Calgary’s Werklund School of Education volunteered to be online tutors for kindergarten through Grade 12 children across Alberta.

The program was developed as schools were closed mid-March as part of public health efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19.

"We realized that the shift to remote emergency learning for K-12 students was going to prove perhaps challenging for some of them," said Amy Burns, associate dean of undergraduate programs in education. "This actually allowed them to connect with kids and help out our community."

The university estimates 224 undergraduate students were matched with 400 tutor subjects. A prospective teacher could have as many as four children for virtual sessions up to three hours per week.

"This opportunity has allowed me to really work one on one with students," said Jenny Yuen, a recent graduate. "It really enhanced my teaching philosophy and my love for working with our community especially with children."

Some Alberta parents say the extra support from educators in training has been very helpful.

"Having someone that has the patience and understanding and knowledge to adapt to what my son needs, it’s been a night and day difference," said Denise McAlpine, parent of an 11-year-old in Grade 5.

McAlpine also says her child now has a better grasp of video conference and distance learning technology, which she predicts will become more commonplace education tools going forward.

“It’s really beneficial to have my son understand how to use this technology because it’s going to be part of his everyday.”

Officials with Werklund School of Education say they are considering relaunching the tutoring program in the fall, but no final decision has been made.