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Horizon working towards new school year through summer

Posted on July 15, 2021 by Vauxhall Advance
By Cole Parkinson
Vauxhall Advance
While student minds are far from the classroom at the moment, staff and administration at Horizon School Division are planning for a busy summer before the new school year.
With plenty to do before the first day of classes on Aug. 31, Horizon administration has several things on their agenda, and they were brought forward for the school board of trustees at their June 28 meeting.
“In June, as part of all of our learner services work was preparing for the fall for staff and students. We’ve got our return to the school year professional learning series set for the first week back in August,” stated Amber Darroch, associate superintendent of learner services.
With insurance on the minds of many Alberta school divisions, Horizon learner services has also looked at what they can do to help.
“We also looked at insurance from a cybersecurity point of view and identified some opportunities to strengthen our protection with both hardware and software. A key piece of that includes a significant hardware upgrade, so we are installing new switches in schools,” continued Darroch.  “It’s where all the cables wired through the building are all connected in the server room. So those needed to be updated. Some are failing and are more than a decade old, so that upgrade is for over the summer.”
“We will be even safer from hacking than we are today.”
The trustees also asked about the human element that can lead to any Internet hacking. While it’s always possible, administration is focused on giving staff and students the best possible tools and knowledge for protection.
“There’s always human error, but part of our strategy will be to do some education with staff and students,” added Darroch.
Learner services is also focusing more on reviewing the new curriculum. With input from participating divisions required early in the new school year, Horizon is trying to get the bulk of the work done before the deadline arrives.
“Related to curriculum, we have had a number of teachers actively working through the month of June and preparing a review. We took a focus of literacy and numeracy to start with, so we’ve done a really deep dive of English Language Arts and Math draft curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 6,” explained Darroch.
A big piece has been gaining feedback from teachers. Once input has been received, it will be collected to be sent to Edmonton.
“That final document, we’ll send it to Alberta Ed this fall as a review from our school division,” explained Darroch, who also answered how many teachers had been participating in the review. “We had just a handful for each, so five to seven teachers. Some came for two full days, some came for half days at a time. I think most are continuing to work over the summer to contribute to our project. There are a lot of teachers that are very eager to really get a handle on this draft, to reposed to it, and also think about how it will impact them. We want to be very thorough, but we also don’t want to wait until the last minute.”

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