Literacy Alliance of West Nipissing (LAWN) says it has not missed a beat in serving its community over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the circumstances, LAWN has continued to provide learners the ability to earn their high school credits as well as continuing their education to tackle the GED test.

Nanditta Colbear, LAWN executive director, says that they have been able to continue all of their education and courses both over the telephone as well as the internet.

“After those short weeks of the March break we decided as a group we would be available for one-on-one coaching in a controlled fashion in the building. Most of the learners, however, weren’t all that keen as a lot of them have children at home. We continued our plan, adding plexiglass partitions in the main center room. The learner and the coach were then not only separated through distance but also with that plexiglass dropping from ceiling to desk. We spoke with both the ministry and health unit that we were in doing the right thing and doing our possible to stop the spread. We received their blessings to go ahead. We currently only allow one learner into the building at a time. “she said.

When it comes to over the phone and online sessions, coaches work alongside the learners through their lesson plans.

“The ministry was very supportive of our efforts and recognized that it took a big team effort to rally together and that we weren’t going to be defeated under the circumstances. Despite only allowing one learner at a time, coaches are constantly on the phone or speaking with clients on social media and continuing a steady lesson load. After doing this for some time now, some of our learners see the benefit of doing this at home, in their environment.”

Though high school equivalency tests (GED) are currently canceled for the foreseeable future, Colbear hopes for the possibility of the exams being available to her learners come October.

“I was told by the organization that handles all provincial exams that it is currently still on hold. They had canceled in March and that has continued. We will receive more news about it in August, and I am hopeful for an October test being available. Our learners are continuing to study. Some have been ready to take this test months ago. We have also picked up new clients over the summer who are working hard.” she said.

Colbear says that her Centre could host 9 learners and one educator for the test, and would be willing to book additional sessions depending on demand.

Despite not being able to partake in the GED exams, learners who are working towards their Ontario Secondary School Diploma are still able to do so.

“Even though the schools have closed, we work with a school board that continues adult education online. So despite these schools being closed, and despite the reduced staffing at many school boards, we are still able to have learners completing their work and making progress towards their high school credits. We even had a graduation in June. A local Sturgeon Falls person graduated and it was fantastic. He had been at it for two years.”