(Nanaimo News Bulletin file)

Nanaimo-Ladysmith families make decisions to send kids to school or keep them learning at home

School district’s transition learning program asking for decision by Nov. 6

With numerous learning options for students due to the COVID-19 pandemic, numbers for distance and transition learning programs in Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district are fluctuating.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ staff have been providing regular updates to school trustees about enrolment in the two programs. Transition program students have a spot reserved at their catchment school until Nov. 6, when they must decide whether to continue distance (distributed) education or return to a bricks-and-mortar school.

At the district education committee meeting Wednesday, Don Balcombe, assistant superintendent, said enrolment continues to shift and Island Connect Ed distributed learning program has seen the largest change in student population in any of the district schools.

He said as of the end of September, there were 834 students enrolled in Island Connect Ed from kindergarten to Grade 9. At the Grade 10-12 levels, students enrol course by course, and there have been 1,900 registrations, an equivalent of about 200 students.

RELATED: SD68 seeks ‘unprecedented’ increase in distance-ed students

For transition learning, Balcombe said there have been 437 students from kindergarten to Grade 7 and as of Monday, 107 of those have returned to their catchment school and 14 have decided to continue with distributed learning.

Balcombe reported that of 59 transition program students in Grade 8-9, 12 have returned to their catchment schools, 13 selected distance learning and 34 are continuing with the transition program.

He said the district will continue working with all students as the Nov. 6 decision date approaches.

Trustee Lisa Marie Barron wondered what happens if someone from Island Connect Ed wants to head back to a bricks-and-mortar school and Balcombe said it is dependent on space.

“We knew that, over the summer, there were some families that selected the distributed learning option as their choice without even knowing anything about the transition program, or even what school would look like…” he said. “So there were some families who, early on in September, were registered through Island Connect Ed, that made the request to return. Where there was space for those families, they have returned.”


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