No timeline from Vancouver School Board on when in-class instruction will increase for high-school students

·3 min read
Both parents and the province say high-school students in Vancouver are being currently underserved by their district when it comes to in-person classes.
Both parents and the province say high-school students in Vancouver are being currently underserved by their district when it comes to in-person classes.

(Maggie MacPherson/CBC - image credit)

The Vancouver School Board has until Friday to tell the B.C. Ministry of Education how it will increase hours of in-class learning for high school students — a plan that failed to materialize from a board meeting Monday night.

In a Feb. 12 letter to VSB superintendent Suzanne Hoffman provided to CBC News, Deputy Minister Scott MacDonald urged the district to "further review" its high school program and maximize in-person and online learning with teacher supervision, especially for students in Grades 8 and 9.

It came after many parents voiced their frustration over the lack of in-person instruction in Vancouver schools compared to other districts in B.C.

"The ministry has conducted a review of education delivery across all 60 school districts and the Vancouver School Board is one of a few that are providing less than 75 per cent of their instruction at the secondary school level in person," the letter read.

The district was given a deadline of Feb. 26 to tell the ministry how it plans to maximize in-class learning.

But those plans are still in the works.

"I don't have a timeline for you," VSB chair Carmen Cho told CBC's The Early Edition host Stephen Quinn on Tuesday morning.

At Monday's meeting, Cho said, the board directed Hoffman to look at progress data for students, such as grades, and determine how to move forward based on that evidence.

"Any decisions that we make are going to be based on the data that we receive, so it would be presumptive of me to say what we will be doing," said Cho.

Parents say more is needed

The ministry letter notes that a survey by the Vancouver School District Parent Advisory Council found nearly 75 per cent of parents are asking for more in-person instruction.

A group of parents complained to the board in January about the lack of in-person instruction. They said their kids were only getting about one-third the instructional time secondary students in other districts were receiving.

The VSB made some changes to secondary school schedules to increase instructional hours as of Feb. 4.

Grade 8 students now attend their remote class twice a week in-person, go to a one-week rotation of remote and in-person classes, and will have three interactive learning opportunities per week for remote classes, with increased social interaction.

Corrine Hohl, the parent of a Grade 8 student in Vancouver, said she's disappointed with the few hours of in-class instructional time her son is receiving.

Hohl told CBC that a typical day at at Kitsilano Secondary for her son means leaving the house just after 8 a.m. for a morning French class and 30 thirty minutes of physical education.

"He came home in the late morning before 11 and he had been home on the couch since then," she said.

Another Vancouver parent, Nathan Hume, said total in-class hours for Grade 8 students is currently 10.75 hours per week, and this is upsetting when it's compared to every other district in the province.

"Grades 8-9 are back everywhere else full time," he said.

While Cho did not provide a timeline for when students would get more in-person classes, she did say the issue is a top priority for the board.

Tap here to watch a livestream of the Vancouver School Board's Feb. 22 meeting.