COVID Diary: Surrey School District

(Image credit: Surrey School District)

The Tech & Learning COVID Diary series follows educators and administrators throughout the year as they share stories about how their districts are handling teaching and learning during the pandemic. 

Sunny Deol is Secondary Administrator for Surrey School District in British Columbia, Canada, a suburban district in which schools currently are hybrid/blended, with a combination of virtual and face-to-face classes. The district relies on Microsoft Teams as one of its primary edtech platforms.

Biggest challenges

1. Teachers are not comfortable with the technology. Some who were strong in the classroom face-to-face environment are feeling helpless in an online environment.

2. Equity, with students not having that extra support at home due to their personal situation (lack of parent support/accountability) and/or a lack of technology. 

3. Curriculum, as we’re trying to get staff to scale back how much they deliver. We’re highlighting what matters and focusing on that versus trying to do everything. We’re also trying to get staff to change the way they assess, moving away from testing heavily to focus on building skills.

Advantages to teaching in this environment

1. Teachers discovering the power of the technological tools and how they can leverage these tools to enhance the learning experiences. 

2. The flexibility for staff.

Do teachers like teaching in this environment? 

Some yes, some no.

How are teachers being supported?

Through professional development mainly, with frequent touchback about their well being. 

How are you supporting your students?

Our focus has been mainly on staff so far, so this is something we need to do more of. We have provided the technology to those students who require it, but we need to better support the social-emotional learning of our students.

How are you supporting parents and families?

Mainly through constant communication. We’re listening to everyone’s story and being compassionate and flexible where we can be.

What else has happened since your district reopened?

Our province is moving back to full-time face-to-face in grades K-9; grades 10-12 are blended. All students grade K to 9 are in learning cohorts of 30 to 60. 

If you would like to participate in the COVID Diary series, please complete this form. Email with any questions.