Despite the effects of Covid-19 on students around the world who have been learning remotely, Six Nations students have shown resilience in continuing to earn their high school credits, with a small but noticeable increase in credit accumulation rates by the end of June 2020.
Credit accumulation rates for grade 12 increased from 42 percent to 45 percent in 2019- 2020, despite Covid-19 resulting in a virtual shut down of learning halfway through the school year.
Jeannie Martin, a native advisor for the Grand Erie District School Board, told Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council during a Zoom presentation at last week’s general council meeting that Six Nations students are faring quite well despite the impacts of Covid-19.
“I think students for the most part have fared okay. I think their biggest challenge has been connectivity and the community is addressing that so that’s good to see.”
Claudine VanEvery-Albert said the biggest impact on Six Nations students is the social isolation aspect.
Secondary students are missing their friends.
“Some talk to their friends online, many don’t. They miss the social aspect of their lives. But all in all, I would say that everybody’s managing pretty well. Now, we’re just weeks away from what we consider ‘normal’ once these vaccinations come out.”
Covid-19 vaccinations have been distributed among elders and healthcare workers but have yet to be accessed by the rest of the community.
Six Nations Elementary Schools were set to re-open on Feb. 1 but a stay-at-home order issued by the province last month amid a skyrocketing number of Covid-19 cases resulted in a delayed reopening of on-reserve schools, as well as a shut down of schools across the province.
Despite Covid-19, Six Nations students continued to earn credits at rates comparable to previous years.
There were 466 Six Nations students at GEDSB schools in 2019-2020.
Sixty-four percent of grade nine students achieved six or more credits last year putting them on track to graduate by grade 12.
In grade 10, forty-six percent of Six Nations students achieved 14 or more credits by the end of June 2020 and are on track to graduate on time.
Grade 11 student credit accumulation increased 10 percent in 2019-2020 from the previous school year, with 68 percent of grade 11 students achieving 19 or more credits and being on track to graduate.
Finally, 63 percent of grade 12 students achieved 24 or more credits by the end of June 2020.
Yearly province-wide educational measurement tests, such as math and literacy tests, were waived by the province due to Covid-19, so Six Nations’ testing figures could not be recorded for those requirements last year.
Last year also saw the first time a grade 11 compulsory native studies course was introduced into GEDSB schools, taught by a grade 11 English teacher in each school, Martin relayed.
Coun. Michelle Bomberry lauded the introduction of the course.
“I think everybody should learn about who we are, especially in this area,” she said.
Martin said secondary student achievement trends go up and down, “but I do think we are moving in a positive direction as we see more students continue their studies, even if they do get sidetracked, they do tend to come back. We have a number of programs to re-engage students and bring them back so they can continue their studies toward their diploma.”
Since Covid-19 shut down schools and resulted in increased at-home learning, Martin said Jordan’s Principle funding has been used to provide students with devices and better Internet access at home to continue remote learning.
Teachers have also been keeping in touch with students to ensure mental well-being, council heard.
“We have been working hard to do that with our native education counsellors and cultural mentors that we have on staff,” said Joanna Roberto, GEDSB director of education.
The province is expected to make an announcement today (Wednesday) on when schools should re-open in Ontario.