Some parents in British Columbia are concerned that their children’s online schools will disappear under a new learning model coming next year.
The Ministry of Education says it deployment a “new single e-learning policy” in time for the 2022 and 2023 school year. So far, few details have been disclosed, causing stress for a number of families.
Kaye Banez, who lives with her family in Richmond, has two children who attend an online school based in Kamloops. She says her children, Lazarus and Estella, made the switch when the pandemic hit and the Kamloops school was the only online Catholic school in the province.
“Online school has been the best decision my husband and I have made for our children,” Banez said. “The school was very open and supported what Lazarus needed.”
Nine-year-old Lazarus is on the autism spectrum and is predominantly non-verbal. Banez said that once he started learning at home, he started to excel at his schoolwork.
“Lazarus was reaching academic milestones that we didn’t know he could reach,” she said. “And he’s able to get more therapeutic support through the school.”
Even her seven-year-old sister Estella enjoys learning at home.
“If our online school goes down and other kids want it, I would do one again,” Estella said. “There would be some super cute math books. “
The future of children’s school is in question as part of the new e-learning model expected to be rolled out next year.
In a statement, the Ministry of Education said the new model is to “ensure that every student has equal and consistent access to quality education,” and that all schools will need to apply to become provincial service providers. online learning.
Some details, including school approval criteria, are still being worked out. The ministry statement added that “additional information on the number and location of provincial online schools will be available in spring 2022 following consultation and engagement by the province.”
For another parent, Amanda Flentjar, this information comes too late.
“Usually we start planning for the next school year in January and February,” said Flentjar. “The timeline they published really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
Flentjar and Banez are both with Autism BC and wrote two open letters to the province to seek clarification on the plan. They fear that if some online schools are not approved by next spring, parents will have to scramble to find another one for their children before the start of the school year. Flentjar says the process is moving too quickly.
“Going forward and making changes that are going to have a really negative impact on children who have already had really traumatic school experiences is irresponsible,” she said.
The ministry says it wants to hear from parents and families and ask people to “participate in forums that will be held until October.”