VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver School Board is increasing in-person learning opportunities for secondary students.
The change halfway through the academic year comes after growing complaints from parents of secondary students.
A District Parent Advisory Council survey conducted last November asked families a number of questions related to how they thought things were going in the era of COVID-19.
Among them was whether their children were receiving the support they need. The survey found that 64 per cent of respondents said their children were not while 36 per cent said they were.
When asked what additional supports their children needed, more in-person social interaction and more in-person instruction came out on top.
“The options here range from more one-to-one time, with student to teacher, a more consistent use of technology — the reference there, I think, and you would hear this from delegations and other groups that inconsistent use of the Teams platform, two things like more social interaction, which would be opportunities for students to interact with their academics, and then also to more in-person instruction,” explained Aaron Davis, director of instruction, during a Student Learning and Well-being Committee meeting, Wednesday.
More than half — 52 per cent — of parents surveyed said their children need more in-person instruction, Davis said, adding 74 per cent of parents said they’d be in favour of that being brought in.
“It is also worth noting that 26 per cent of our respondents, of the 899 to this survey, said no. So there is that range of opinion,” Davis added.
Many parents have been voicing their concerns since the pandemic forced districts and schools to change the way students learn amid the health crisis.
Nancy Small is one of them, saying putting the onus on her own child to learn remotely is too much and contributing to social isolation, frustration, and stress.
“My grade 8 son, who’s just gone into high school, is expected to self-direct and self-manage his own homework and his time. It is way too much to expect,” Small said during the meeting.
“Our Vancouver secondary students are receiving one third of the amount of in-class time that other districts have. I don’t understand how this is acceptable and how this is not being changed,” Small added.
But that is now changing.
Changes starting February
Starting Quarter 3 — Feb. 4 — all secondary schools will go to a one-week rotation of remote and in-person classes. That’s up from the current two-week rotation. These rotations will be determined by the schools and communicated to families in the coming weeks.
Changes will also see all grade 8 students begin attending their remote classes in-person twice a week.
In addition, the VSB says all students will have three interactive learning opportunities per week for remote classes, such as in-person learning, synchronous lessons, recorded lessons for students to access, moderated group discussions, and scheduled small group tutorials.
Of these interactive learning opportunities, one must involve social interaction between students.
The school board promises there will be minimal schedule changes for students already attending full time and in-person, and says there will be continuous supports for students who need more social and academic help.
It is also assuring families that health and safety precautions will continue to be in place.