School attendance for in-class instruction has remained stable across the district since doors opened on June 1 for Stage 3 of the Ministry of Education’s restart plan.
The second week of in-class instruction did see an increase of 69 students who physically attended classes Monday and Tuesday, (June 8 and 9), compared to the first two days of the previous week, bringing the total of both elementary and secondary school students to 2,949 – up from 2,880, said the school district’s deputy superintendent Harry Dhillon.
“But when you spread that across 30 schools, you are looking at up one or two students, (it’s) not significant,” Dhillon said.
During the first full week of in-class programming, noted Dhillon, from June 1 to 5, 26.2 per cent of elementary students attended and 14 per cent of secondary students participated.
During the second full week, from June 8 to 12, 26.7 per cent of elementary students attended and again, 14 per sent of secondary students were in class.
These numbers include children of essential service workers and students who require additional supports – those who are entitled to receive in-class instruction five days of the week, Dhillion explained.
There has been an increase in demand for part-time, in-class instruction at Kanaka Creek Elementary, a balanced calendar school that has seven remaining weeks of school left before break, with 38 more students attending June 8 and 9 than on June 1 and 2.
The balance of the students continued with remote learning.
“You have to separate the day-by-day attendance,” said Dhillon.
“That’s why we went to what percentage returned during the first week on any day. Because some of the students can only come on one day, some can come on two days, and others have the provision to attend five days a week,” he noted.
Stage 3 of the plan includes two to three days of in-class instruction per week for students in kindergarten to Grade 5. And, for those in Grades 6 to 12, in-class instruction is only available one day of the week.
In a May 26 letter to families, district superintendent Sylvia Russell explained elementary students would be put into two groups. Students in kindergarten to Grade 5 would attend school Tuesday and Thursday, including Grade 6 students in a combined Grade 5/6 class. And only if attendance exceeds 50 per cent of attendance, then groups would be established on Wednesday and Friday.
“We have, I believe [there are] 10 or 11 classes where there are enough students attending to create that second group,” said Dhillon.
Students in Grades 6, 6/7, and 7, would attend class on Monday and – only if enrolment exceeded 14 students – would a second day of class be implemented.
Otherwise, Monday would be designated a day for teachers to plan out lessons and help students who are continuing their education remotely.
Secondary school students, added Dhillon, attend two half-day sessions per week from 8:30 to 11:10 a.m., or they have the option for one full day of school, but those days are not consistent.
That is why attendance data released by the district for June 1 and 2 for Samuel Robertson Technical showed an attendance drop from 86 students on the Monday to only one student on the Tuesday. Students there are only attending Monday and Wednesday.
Actually, 91 students attended in-class instruction on Wednesday, June 3, said Irena Pochop with School District 42.
The student who showed up on Tuesday, she said, might have been at the school for a specific program.
“This would have been a one-off and not indicative of any general downward trend,” said Pochop.
On Monday June 8, about 81 students attended in-class instruction at SRT and on Wednesday, June 10, 88 students attended.
Pochop is happy with how the Stage 3 procedures are working out in the district.
Parents have been supportive, she said, and students have fallen nicely into routines.
“In general, both elementary and secondary attendance is showing stable numbers over time,” she said.
The last day of school for students, apart from those attending Kanaka Creek Elementary, is on June 24.
But, how classes will resume in September is unknown at this point.
The school district is waiting for further instruction from the provincial health officer along with the Ministry of Education, said Pochop.
But for now, she added, they are prepared to continue in Stage 3 of the restart plan with anticipated increased rates of attendance.
And, based on direction they receive, they are also ready to shift back to Stage 4 or forge ahead with Stage 1 or 2 of the provincial restart plan.