Langley parents are being surveyed this week about options for the return to school, ranging from full in-class instruction to homeschooling.
The survey includes an option that would allow at least some distance learning, but parents still don’t have much detail, said Langley District Parents Advisory Council (DPAC) president Alicia Rempel.
She noted that last week, provincial minister of education Rob Fleming confirmed that districts will be able to create home learning options for students whose parents aren’t willing to send them back to the classroom.
“It was definitely a bit of a shift in the provincial mandate,” said Rempel.
Until last week, the official policy in B.C. had been for a broad return to classes for almost all students, with the exception of those with immune system issues that would put them at greater risk from COVID-19.
“It’s great, because clearly they heard from parents who really wanted that option,” said Rempel.
But so far it appears that option is not intended to be a long-term distance learning program.
At a virtual town hall event last week, superintendent of schools Gord Stewart said the district will work with families to develop a plan to support their needs. It’s described as a transitional option.
The district survey contains four options for parents.
The first was a return to regular classroom instruction, under the new COVID-19 guidelines for distancing and cohorts.
The second was listed as “transition and support” for a return to in-class instruction.
“The district will work with families who require additional time to return their child(ren) to face to face instruction,” this option says. “This will allow for students to transition back to face to face instruction at their current catchment/choice school on designated dates determined by the district.”
Option three was one of the existing partial distance-learning options, such as U-Connect, and option four was homeschooling.
The district can’t make firmer plans until the surveys – due Monday, Aug. 31 – are returned, said spokepserson Joanne Abshire.
“Once we have the numbers, we can start developing plans, and then provide families with information on what a transition and support plan could look like,” she said.
Rempel said there have been questions from parents about what option two will look like.
While some parents have been firm that they don’t want their children going back into the classroom during the COVID-19 pandemic, others are anxious to get back to school, Rempel said.
The district’s future plans will likely depend on how parents respond to the survey.
Every school is expected to have contacted all families by Sept. 4 to determine what they want to do on the first day of school.
School is set to resume in B.C. with teachers back for two days of orientation on Sept. 8, then two days of the same for students starting Sept. 10.
Actual instruction is to start on Monday, Sept. 14.
The new school plan, which includes staggered starts, more distancing, and more cleaning, will be quite different from the pre-coronavirus school environment.
“It’s going to be an adjustment,” said Rempel.