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Richmond parent pushes for more remote learning

Anneke Wijtkamp said her son has thrived learning through the school district's transitional learning program.
Anneke Wijtkamp's son Joel Sagar is in the transitional learning program because he has virus-induced asthma. Photo submitted

The Richmond Board of Education is considering extending its remote learning programs past Jan. 31.

This is good news for Anneke Wijtkamp, whose Grade 8 son Joel has virus-induced asthma and has been doing school remotely since September.

Wijtkamp said the transitional option via Richmond Virtual School (RVS) her son taking part in has been “excellent,” and he’s thriving in his studies.

While she was concerned about his mental health in September - and the start was hard - she said he’s adjusted well and has made friends online, “proving once again that kids are resilient and adaptable to change.”

The school board plans to discuss extending the online learning program at its Dec. 16 board meeting.

At last week’s board meeting, school district superintendent Scott Robinson said many parents have concerns about the program ending so they are considering an extension, especially given that COVID-19 virus continues to spread in the community.

Twenty-two per cent of elementary students are taking part in the transitional learning program as are some Grade 8 and 9 students.

Currently, with up to 30 students in a class, no mandatory mask policy and inconsistent physical distancing, Wijtkamp doesn’t consider it safe to send her son back to school given his asthma.

But if remote learning doesn’t continue after January, Wijtkamp said she’ll have to consider home schooling her son.

The virtual school program has made an impression on Wijtkamp and she considers her son lucky since, anecdotally, she’s heard of other school districts struggling to deliver remote learning.

The Richmond teachers are engaging and, while the workload is heavy, she said her son is getting a “well-rounded” education.

With the next school board meeting looming in less than two weeks, Wijtkamp suggests other parents write in and express their concerns about the possible termination of the program and watch the board meeting online.

“My message to the board is please extend this program,” she said.

There are usually two opportunities for the public to ask questions via email. (Send email questions to

The board meeting in December is scheduled for Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. The public can watch via Zoom (check to register).

So far, there have been about 40 COVID-19 exposures in schools since September, Robinson said, but, to date, there have been no known transmission of the virus within schools.