Enrolments spike at P.E.I. French schools due to pandemic immigration

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P.E.I.'s French Language School Board has heard from a lot of families who have moved to the Island because of the pandemic situation elsewhere. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
P.E.I.'s French Language School Board has heard from a lot of families who have moved to the Island because of the pandemic situation elsewhere. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

Prince Edward Island's French Language School Board says the number of students enrolled at its six schools has increased amid COVID-19.

Nathalie Malo, the board's human resources director, says she has heard from a lot of families who have moved to the Island because of the pandemic situation elsewhere.

"Every year, we see more students," she said. "But we heard from a lot of people ... that they're coming here because the situation outside of the Island is more risky, maybe, or not controlled like in P.E.I."

The board said an additional 45 children registered for kindergarten at École François-Buote in Charlottetown this year, with a handful of additional students joining higher grades as well.

Most of the children come from elsewhere in Canada, particularly from Quebec and Ontario, and some are from countries including Lebanon, Cameroon, France and Belgium.

Malo said she has been fielding calls from French-speaking families looking to move to P.E.I. and asking her advice on more than just schools.

"People will call me to say 'Do you have a job if I'm coming?' or 'Is it possible to find something for my wife?' And 'What you have in this area?' Is it better to move in Summerside or Charlottetown?'" said Malo.

"After that, for sure, the family [follows]."

Malo notes there are currently few job vacancies within the French School board, but hiring qualified substitute teachers remains a challenge.

École François-Buote currently has three kindergarten classes.

Talks to build an expansion for the school are ongoing.

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