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Coronavirus: What can I expect if my child needs learning support at school?

Last Updated Sep 15, 2020 at 11:53 am PDT

FILE - Teachers returned to school on Tuesday, Sept. 8, with students expected back on class for the rest of orientation week on Thusday. (Lasia Kretzel, NEWS1130 photo)
Summary

B.C. assure parents their kids will have access to and receive the same supports, services they had prior to COVID-19

All districts say they are committed to making sure kids with special needs get what they need

NEWS 1130 is working hard to get you the information you need about the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are responding to your questions in a segment we call NEWS 1130 Gets Answers.

Question:

Barb has a son in a Surrey high school with a learning disability that affects how he expresses himself through writing.

She wants to know how he will get the help he needs this year given that dedicated “support blocks” have been called off.

Answer:

The province’s guidelines assure parents like Barb that their kids will “access and receive the same supports and services they had prior to the pandemic.”

“The way supports are provided may look different, but all students will have access to a learning environment and the opportunity to have their learning needs assessed. Students who require additional supports will be identified through a needs assessment,” the Ministry of Education says.

“School districts and independent school authorities will then develop continuity of learning plans for those students to ensure equity of access to learning.”

The “new normal” for students who need additional support will vary by district and according to each student’s needs.

In Surrey, support blocks are no longer built into the timetable because of changes to the way classes are scheduled.

“We’ve moved to a quarter system for this school year, which means that every secondary student will have two classes over a 10 week term, for a total of eight classes in the school year. This means that every class will be two hours or longer in duration,” a spokesperson explains.

“This provides a lot of flexibility as staff can work with students with unique needs in the student’s classroom, or in a resource room or in a combination of both. For example, students may work in their classroom for the first part of the class, then move to the resource room. ”

In Vancouver, students with diverse needs will still be given flex time. That will allow time for kids to access programs and learning support.

“Supports and services will continue to be provided as they always are for secondary students who have diverse learning needs,” says a spokesperson for the Vancouver School Board.

“The secondary school scheduled (now quarterly versus linear or year-long as in previous years) includes scheduled time, referred to as flex time. The flex time schedule is unique in each school and will vary from student to student. However, it is intended to enable those students who need additional support or specific programming, with the time to do so in their school.”

In district’s like New Westminster and Burnaby, students aren’t scheduled into blocks of support, but rather can access supports at any time by dropping into resource centres.

All districts say they are committed to making sure kids, like Barb’s son, get what they need.

Reopening plans for all districts in the Lower Mainland can be found here.

Any family with concerns about how their child’s needs will be accommodated can reach out to their school directly.

Got a question you want answered? Submit it here.