[Letter sent to Langley School District superintendent Gord Stewart]
I am concerned that the flexibility being indicated in announcements by Minister Fleming at a provincial level is not being reflected in the current educational offerings from Langley School District #35.
Our schools, as it stands, are offering either a return to full-time, in-person classes starting on Sept. 10, or having students cut ties completely with their school community and homeschool for the year (with a distributed learning option that is unavailable at this time due to popularity). The survey choice of a slower transition back to in-person schooling while keeping ties to one’s school community is not currently being offered.
Firstly, I do want to thank you for all the hard work you and everyone in the school district has been doing to ramp up to this restart. These are unprecedented times and I am sure everyone is feeling the pressure.
However, I do take issue with the fact that parents not wanting to send their children to full-time, face-to-face learning is being framed as parental anxiety instead of an abundance of caution. I believe, as a parent, I should be allowed to err on the side of caution during a global pandemic.
The transitional phasing in of face-to-face learning has been a hurdle that many districts in B.C. have found a way over. The anxieties of Langley parents and children should be treated with the same respect as those in Surrey, Vancouver, and Coquitlam. Perhaps an approach taken by any one of these districts could be scaled to work here in Langley.
From what I understand, in your position as superintendent of schools you hold a lot of the decision-making power. The vision of SD35 includes an “innovative, inspiring and unified learning community” and on the same page, the SD35 website states “learning takes place through flexible and connected environments.”
I believe by creating an innovative option for Langley students that will take into consideration the needs of parents who feel, out of an abundance of caution during a global pandemic, that their children are able to remain out of the classroom for now and learn on a different platform adheres to that vision. Respecting the need for bigger spaces and fewer faces will increase the safety of all of SD35’s children and staff.
Offering maintenance of placement in our current schools, regardless of whether or not there is a waitlist, as well as a slower transition back to full-time, in-person classroom education will relieve much of the anxiety in Langley parents as well as offering a nimbleness, in the midst of our current state of emergency, to adapt to any change in environment coming from the provincial government.
Thank you, again, for all of the hard work. I hope you will consider including a transition option for Sept. 10. I do not want to believe that, as a Langley parent, I need to choose between my child’s health and his education.
Dedrie Olver, Willowbrook
[Editor’s note: Below is the reply Olver received]
Thank you for your thoughtful email. We will be communicating our Transition Support model out to families today. I hope this plan will address your concerns and meet the needs of your family.
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