The Abbotsford school district is moving to a quarterly schedule for high schools, instead of two semesters, in September.

School district’s transition program to ‘cease to exist,’ despite parent petition

Parents to be given choice between full-time school or full-time online learning

More than 300 people have signed an online petition to try to convince the Abbotsford School District to maintain its transition schooling program. But superintendent Kevin Godden said Tuesday the program will end in January.

The district’s current transition program gives children the ability to blend limited in-school learning with online and home-based assignments and work.

About 1,000 students are enrolled in the program, which was created in the fall to provide options to parents who were wary about sending their children to school during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Students participate in classroom-based learning for part, but not all, of the week.

Last week, parents of those students received a survey asking them to select one of four potential options for schooling in the fall. Those options – face-to-face instruction in January, homeschooling, “hospital homebound” learning,’ or enrolment in an online program – didn’t include continuing with the transition program.

A petition created by Sabina Billo hailed the program and its teachers and asked the district to continue with transition learning.

“We have been so fortunate to be assigned the most amazing teachers for this program who understand our children’s needs socially/emotionally and cognitively,” the petition reads. “They have gone above and beyond for this program, our children and their families. If it was not for them, we would not feel as secure as we do in moving forward with the program the way it has been designed by these teachers.”

Billo, who has organized like-minded parents through Facebook, told The News the program succeeded in allowing students to receive in-classroom learning while mitigating the safety concerns from parents. She said most students wore masks and that she was confident the families of other children in the program had appropriately reduced their contacts and likelihood of contracting COVID-19.

“Because we’re coming from the same like-minded families, we feel more confident sending our children to school,” she said. “Our teachers have been going above and beyond not just for the students, but the families themselves.”

Given increasing rates of COVID-19, Billo and her petition say the transition program should remain in place throughout the rest of the school year.

She said last week’s survey came with little information about plans for the future, including the continuation of the transition program. Parents were also told they needed to complete the survey by Nov. 27.

Some clarity was provided at a school board meeting several days later. On Tuesday, superintendent Kevin Godden said the program would be ending, with parents having the option of either returning their kids to school full-time or enrolling them in an online program.

“In effect, the transition program as it is structured will cease to exist,” he said.

Godden said the transition program was specifically designed to get kids back into school full-time, and must end in order to allow parents who want their kids back in school to follow through with that intention.

“What we have to be able to do is to honour what that program was designed to do, which is to get those kids back,” he said.

Those whose parents choose an online program will have a “blended learning” teacher, Godden said.

“We will pivot those students into an ongoing online program for the remainder of the year, but we must honour the families who are ready to come back to us in January and create some space to them.

“What I do want to assure people is our commitment to keep each child to have an educational program, and that, while we might have to switch the delivery mode and/or the teacher, we are going to ensure we have all these students covered. What we’re looking at is to have a regional program for those families who don’t want to, or are not able to, attend school face to face.”

Godden, though, stressed that he believes online learning can’t compare to in-school instruction.

“I believe the best thing for our kids is face-to-face instruction and while we are improving our blended learning capabilities … there is nothing that beats having a child connected to an adult in a classroom.”

Each school district has formulated their own particular transition program, resulting in very different approaches. In Chilliwack, school officials created a transition program without any in-school learning, but which also aimed to return children to school in January.

But after a survey showed little enthusiasm for kids returning to school, that district has decided to continue with that district’s current transition program until at least March, when funds budgeted for the program are expected to be depleted.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Abby Schools

Just Posted

Brigitte Gietema was one of more than 100 athletes who participated in the Move4Communitas fitness fundraiser for mental health. (Photo: Brigitte Gietema)
Virtual walk raises more than $13K for Communitas in Abbotsford

Move4Communitas was held over eight weeks, involving 100 participants

The Seattle Cossacks are a popular portion of the Hope Brigade Days parade. Some form of a community parade may still take place, say organizers. (Standard file photo)
Hope’s Brigade Days once again hit by pandemic concerns

Main event cancelled, but there is a glimmer of hope some events could happen

(Submitted)
Looking back on a rural nursing career in Hope

After a career spent working at Fraser Canyon Hospital, Jo-Dee Chisholm retires

B.C. Wildfire Services shows a fire on Chehalis Forest Service Road as of Sunday, May 16, 2021. (BC Fire Services)
UPDATE: Fire near Harrison Mills grows to 3 hectares

Resident near wildfire: ‘I pray that the Creator brings rain as soon as possible’

Justin Bond’s Bahrain 1 took a team around a year to construct. It gets its name because the Sheik of Bahrain is a major sponsor of the team. / Photo courtesy of Justin Bond.
Mission dragracer wins Atlanta race, ousts back-to-back world champion

Justin Bond goes quarter-mile in 5.738-seconds, beating champ Stevie ‘Fast’ Jackson on home turf

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of May 16

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) (File Photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found dead in Surrey following a wellness check

IIO says officers ‘reportedly spoke to a man at the home before departing’

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read