Summerland’s Unisus School is closed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but students are continuing to learn, using online methods. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)

Unisus School adapts to online learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Students from international school in Summerland now at home in countries around the world

The students are no longer in the classrooms at Summerland’s Unisus School, but the private school has adapted to provide educational services for its students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While other schools have gone to online learning structures, teachers at the private school are dealing with multiple time zones as their students are from around the world.

Of the 19 students in the senior classes, only four are from Canada.

The rest are from China, Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Spain.

READ ALSO: From Summerland to Singapore and back, local teacher returns home

The school uses a variety of online platforms, including video chat services and online text services, to reach out to its students.

Tosca Killoran, senior school principal at Unisus School, said the school had been working on its plans to teach international students since before the pandemic began.

The school leadership had been designing and drafting the guidelines for its Continuity of Learning Plan, so the shift to an online learning system was smooth, she said.

“We were already in that digital space,” she said.

In late March, the last of the Unisus School students had gone back to their home countries, and by March 30, the online learning structure was in place.

Prior to the pandemic, the school had been moving towards a nearly paperless structure.

Still, the pandemic has brought new challenges to the school.

Since students live around the world, time zone differences must be considered.

Killoran said teachers have been working mornings and evenings in order to be able to have video chats with their students and be responsive to their needs.

While the students are now at home and no longer at the Summerland campus, Killoran said the new structure is not based on a homeschool model.

“We are not homeschooling,” she said. “We are crisis learning. We don’t expect parents to homeschool their children.”

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