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Richmond school board to decide on transitional learning in March

A meeting will be held on March 10 to decide whether or not to continue transitional learning to the end of the year.

Richmond school trustees will discuss the future of transitional learning and how to possibly fund it at an extra board meeting scheduled for March 10.

Transitional learning – whereby students learn at home but stay connected to their home school and teacher – was set to wrap up around spring break, but some parents have been asking the school district to extend it to the end of the school year.

Sandra Nixon, board chair, told the Richmond News federal funds to support schools with COVID-19 modifications has already been used, so extending the transitional learning program to the end of the year would mean finding the funds elsewhere.

In December, there were about 3,000 students in the Richmond transitional learning program.

At its December meeting, the board of education voted to continue transitional learning until spring break – originally meant to end after Christmas.

At that time, senior school district management highly recommended all students return to in-class learning after spring break.

Having kids out of school for so long raises concerns about learning loss and mental health issues as students are away from the structure of the school environment and friends, Nixon said.

“Not all students who are in the transitional learning program are finding success in that program,” she said.

It is especially hard for English language learners, she added.

However, other parents prefer transitional learning and say their children are doing well.

“We are hearing from quite a few parents whose children are right now in transitional learning that they’d like to see the program extended to the end of the year,” Nixon said.

Nixon said the board is committed to making a decision at the March 10 meeting.

Other school districts in Metro Vancouver have also decided to extend their transitional learning programs to the end of the year.

In a report to the board of education in December, district superintendent Scott Robinson noted the transitional program was never intended to go the full year, and parents were informed of this in September.

At Wednesday’s board meeting, Robinson said school exposures are down to about two to four per week whereas before Christmas, there were up to 15 exposures per week. He also noted there have been no known transmissions of COVID-19 in Richmond schools thus far.