Some parents are concerned with the plans of the Cowichan Valley school district to drop one of its distance-learning options. (File photo)

Some parents are concerned with the plans of the Cowichan Valley school district to drop one of its distance-learning options. (File photo)

Cowichan Valley parents upset with loss of remote learning program

School district says program being redesigned

Some parents in the Valley are taking exception to plans by the Cowichan Valley School District to end one of its distance-learning options.

The Remote Learning Transition Program was quickly set up at the beginning of this year at the request of families who wanted to have a program that would allow them to stay attached to their home school as opposed to the Valley’s longer-term, district level, Distance Learning program.

RELATED STORY: B.C. TO SUSPEND K-12 SCHOOLS INDEFINITELY DUE TO COVID-19

Robyn Gray, the superintendent of SD79, said the RLTP was designed to be short term and to help families transition to other learning options.

She said in letter to parents sent home on Nov. 20 that the RLTP will end with the beginning of the district’s winter break, which falls on Dec. 18.

The letter asked parents to select from three learning options that parents had bypassed in September, instead opting for the RLTP, and giving them until Dec. 1 to make a decision.

“Our principals and vice principals are reaching out to families to gather information on which learning option they would like to choose (in-class, blended, or distance learning), or if they feel that the current offerings do not suit their needs,” Gray said.

“We are looking to redesign the RLTP program into a long-term program that will be sustainable for the district and offer exceptional learning opportunities for students. No family will be asked to return to in-class instruction if they are not comfortable with that, there will always be options for them.”

RELATED STORY: B.C. DAILY COVID-19 CASES HITS RECORD 941 ON TUESDAY

But news of the current program ending has come as a shock to many parents who are questioning why it’s being dropped now, with some even indicating they were never informed the program would conclude until later in the year.

The parents acknowledge the school board is making an effort to bridge the gap, but they were not informed of the potential option to have this program redesigned, so they are feeling the pressure to have to select an option from only those presented.

A vocal group of parents resistant to the idea of the program ending for a redesign have started a petition raising almost 400 signatures just this past week, asking for the current program to continue.

“Many of us selected this program because we were told we could decide to transition our child back to the classroom when we were ready and there was a natural break,” said concerned parent Joel Adams from Maple Bay.

“Now is not that time, not when (COVID-19) cases are high like this, but we don’t seem to have a choice any longer.”

Ashley Henderson, a parent of a child in Maple Bay Elementary School, said she thinks it’s important to support those students who can stay home and reduce the class sizes to do so, and pulling the program in the middle of a second wave of the pandemic just doesn’t make sense and has added unneeded stress to all involved.

“We chose this program to stay connected with our school and to have that mental health piece of connection to our child’s friends and teacher while still keeping our family safe,” she said.

Mike Russell, the district’s communications director, said the district is aware there are a few families who have been vocal in their thoughts on the winding down of the Remote Learning Transition Program, but some of the information they are sharing is incorrect.

RELATED STORY: SD79BACK-TO-SCHOOL DETAILS TO BE ANNOUNCED

He said the fact is that no family will be asked to return to in-class instruction if they are not comfortable with that, and there will always be options for them.

Russell reiterated Gray’s comments that RLTP was designed to be short term and to help families transition to other learning options, and the district is working hard to ensure that there are learning options for every family.

“We know that a majority of the families in this program want a distance-learning type option and we want to ensure that the learning options we offer are personalized to needs of the students,” he said.

“We are still carefully monitoring what is happening around the province and are constantly assessing our programs and what they deliver, and looking at learning options that will best serve our communities.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Education

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

There still has been no arrests and the investigation is ongoing into the deaths of Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie on Christmas Eve, 2019. Police are asking for the public’s assistance in solving the crime. This memorial, located near Trunk Road and Canada Avenue where the crime occurred, still stands at the site of the double homicide. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Investigation continues into Duncan double murder

Police ask anyone with information on Christmas Eve, 2019, crime to contact them

An Island Health graph showing COVID-19 cases in the central Island by local health area between Dec. 27 and Jan. 23. (Island Health image)
Central Island’s COVID-19 case spike shifting, says Island Health

Cowichan Valley has seen the highest number of cases, but Nanaimo and south Island seeing upticks

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo submitted)
Mount Brenton Golf Course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year

The memorial site for double-murder victims Nellie Williams and Fran Shurie, located in Charles Hoey Park, will be allowed to stay for another two months after the City of Duncan changed its policy on temporary memorials. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Duncan allows temporary memorials to stay longer

Policy change related to memorial for double-homicide victims in city park

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read