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School board to offer new one-year online learning option

By Hannah Scott, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Published 11:40 PDT, Thu April 29, 2021

Last Updated: 4:55 PDT, Fri April 30, 2021

Online learning will continue for Richmond students next year.

School trustees decided Wednesday on a one-year “distributed learning” program that will allow students in Kindergarten through Grade 9 to continue their education from home.

The program differs from this year’s “transitional learning” model, in which students who choose to learn from home will continue to be registered at their school. In next year’s program this will not be the case, except for students with severely compromised immune systems.

All Grade 8 and 9 students will be enrolled in the same eight courses, with no electives offered. They will also be required to attend in-person meetings about once a week for assessment or other activities. 

For all students who will learn from home, parents or guardians must be available daily to support and monitor learning. They must also provide an electronic device and internet connection.

The district has always viewed the transitional learning program as temporary. Superintendent Scott Robinson said at last night’s school board meeting that it was expensive, as the district effectively paid for each student twice (once for their virtual learning allowances and once to hold their spot in their neighbourhood school). This year’s program was largely funded by a one-time federal grant.

Robinson said about 40 per cent of the 4,000 students originally learning from home this year have not returned to school. 

Families who want their children to continue to learn virtually next year must complete a transfer form by May 14. Forms received after that date will be considered late, and students will be placed on a waitlist.

A letter will be sent out to parents in English and Chinese to communicate the options for next year.

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