The sign outside of Langley Secondary School on Sept. 1 advises students to return for orientation next week, and tells different grade groups to use different entrances. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Assign teachers to remote learning option, LTA pres says

Langley teachers are waiting to see what happens with enrolment next week

Remote learning can work in the Langley School District, but only if there are enough teachers for both in class and online students, said the president of the Langley Teachers Association.

“For it to work and to work well, it needs to be a separate teacher,” said Tanya Kerr, LTA president.

Over the weekend and leading up to Monday, the Langley School District asked parents in a survey which of four main options they wanted for their children when school is set to resume after Labour Day.

The four options were for a return to class, a “transition” starting with remote learning, a program such as U-Connect, or homeschooling.

The transition option would see students start the school year at home and head back into classrooms at some future date, although when isn’t known yet.

The exact form a remote learning program will take won’t be known until the district has completed its survey of students and has some idea how many parents want to keep their kids home in the near future, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

READ MORE: 1,100 active COVID-19 cases in B.C. following continued surge over weekend

Neither parents nor teachers yet have an idea what the distance learning option will look like, or how many children will be attending school that way.

A majority of children are expected to go back to school, where they will find cohorts of between 60 and 120 people, staggered start times for different classes, and lines in the hallway to keep kids spaced out. The measures are part of the COVID-19 safety procedures devised over the summer.

But some parents, students, and teachers are not eager to go back, as COVID-19 numbers are on the rise in B.C., with a recent rise to almost 100 new positive tests per day.

In June, during a brief return to school before summer vacations, teachers in Langley had to both educate those students who chose to return and those whose parents chose to keep them home.

The LTA is not in favour of doing that again, said Kerr.

“It’s too difficult to do both,” she said.

The LTA wants to see those teachers who are anxious about returning to school assigned to teach the students who choose to stay home.

They are hoping that if a significant number of parents choose option two, that means classes won’t be combined – the smaller class sizes would allow more physical distance in classrooms, too, Kerr noted.

Having both in-class and at-home options could cost more, but the federal government has distributed additional education funding as of late August.

B.C. is set to receive about $242 million of that funding, and Kerr’s hoping it can be used to fund smaller class sizes and the remote learning option.

Some teachers are anxious about returning to work amid the pandemic.

Kerr said she recently spoke to a teacher, who is also a parent, worried about going back to teach Kindergarten, where the kids will be sitting shoulder to shoulder without masks. The woman hadn’t slept in two days, Kerr said.

By late this week or early next week, the district will have a full picture of how many parents will opt to keep their kids out of regular classes.

Schools return for staff orientation on Sept. 8, and for student orientation on Sept. 10. Instruction is to begin on Sept. 14.

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