In the face of a global pandemic, Guiding Light Academy’s commitment remains clear – a commitment to students and parents, a commitment to staff and a commitment to Canada to be a socially responsible corporation.

As educators, the concern was real when evaluating the possibility of extended school closures in Mississauga. Simply circulating online resources, would be doing a disservice to students and impact the community aspect that is at the heart of Guiding Light Academy’s core values. So instead of shuttering the business and forcing teachers to be temporarily out of work, Guiding Light Academy turned to both free and paid digital services to move classrooms online.

In addition to migrating the curriculum online, the staff needed to work extensively to completely overhaul long-range lesson plans and content delivery. This was months of work previously completed that had to be scrapped and reworked to function in this new virtual world. On Tuesday morning after March break, instead of walking into their real classrooms, students from Kindergarten through Grade 8 logged into their Google classrooms.

Zoom, a video conferencing service, gave teachers and students the ability to interact as they would in a regular classroom setting. Students in Kindergarten proudly completed their cursive writing lessons, Jolly Phonics activities and even performed their ‘show-and-tell’ online. For the older students the transition was seamless, picking up where they left off, with their teachers offering lectures using Google slides instead of a whiteboard. Peers excitedly greeted each other online showcasing social distancing at its finest. And perhaps most importantly, the parents banded together to offer support and words of encouragement to keep the community aspect alive and thriving.

As a Catholic private school, the student’s usual routine included daily Mass and prayers led by the Heralds of the Gospel. Technology investments allowed the Heralds to be able to live stream the daily Mass and prayers so that students could continue to enjoy their familiar daily routine while quarantined at home.

Moving online meant the COVID-19 health risk to staff, students and their families could be mitigated. Moving online meant students could continue to receive one-on-one attention from teachers and progress in their academic and spiritual development. Moving online showed that when faced with a great challenge it brought about the best from this little school’s big community.

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