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Paintearth Adult Learning navigating COVID-19, hears Castor council

The Paintearth Community Adult Learning Centre is doing some learning of its own, as it adapts to the COVID-19 pandemic, heard Castor town council at its regular meeting Dec. 14.

Councillors heard a presentation from the learning council Program Manager Cindy Heidecker, who noted that the organization, with two locations in Castor and one in Coronation, continues to offer programming during the pandemic.

Heidecker stated the Learning Champions program is underway, which is required programming as the learning council receives funds from Alberta Advanced Education for it.

She also explained the council must provide adult literacy programming to those who need help reading and writing, plus life skills help if needed.

She noted Thursday evening courses are available when COVID-19 restrictions allow.

Basic computer skills courses are also available, and Heidecker noted this means starting right from how to turn the computer on.

More advanced computer skill courses are available but are part of a different course.

She noted community capacity building courses can include training such as first aid and advanced computer courses but the learning council has to charge fees for these programs which are run on a cost-recovery basis because no grant funds are received for them.

Families have quite a selection of courses available stated Heidecker, who named the Magic Carpet Ride family literacy course for children aged 0 to 6 years, further noting some of these programs are funded by grants, some by fees, depending on the clients.

Heidecker stated the 2020 pandemic shutdown last spring forced the learning council to make some changes to how and what it offered.

She stated the learning council tried to adapt as quickly as possible by offering online programming and she stated she was quite proud of how the organization handled those challenges.

Heidecker stated the learning council continued to run 37 courses through online learning, while 28 courses were unable to run.

The learning council also offers a lot of resources for people looking for a new job, including programs such as Back to Work Bootcamp, a nine hour course that includes topics like priorities and goal setting, career planning, resume development, marketing yourself, job search strategies and interview skills.

Some courses are blended, meaning some clients attend online, some in-person when restrictions allow.

Heidecker stated it’s rewarding to see how adult learning can help local residents. She cited the example of one student who began attending courses a year and a half ago who needed some computer use help, then moved on to learning first aid and some life skills help such as financial management.

“That’s what we’re all about at Paintearth Adult Learning,” said Heidecker.

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She encouraged councillors who may encounter people in their travels who need learning help but may have struggled with learning in the past to contact the learning council.
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