Private school parents outraged their kids denied ‘equal access’ to Richmond public summer school

A few Richmond parents are outraged that their children who attend private schools aren’t allowed to register for upcoming summer school courses until June 1, while registration has been open to public school students since May 13.

“As local residents, we pay the same amount of school taxes as other Richmond public school (RPS) parents. We should all be treated fairly,” said Betty Zhang, whose Grade 5 daughter and Grade 7 son were initially looking forward to attending summer school.

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“They were also excited to meet new friends as they have been self-isolating at home for quite a long time,” added Zhang.

However, an email reply from the Richmond School District dashed their hopes.

The email forwarded to the Richmond News by the parent explains, “Due to limited seats, Richmond Public School students will be able to register first.  Non-Richmond school district students may register starting on June 1, 2020, as space permits.”

The letter also notes that all programs will be delivered remotely and online, which, for one parent, makes the district’s policy of prioritizing public school students even more unacceptable.

“My understanding is that online courses can accommodate more students, since we don’t take any actual space. So, I don’t know why our kids suddenly lost their priority for registering for the summer program,” said Maggie Liu.

In previous years, students from both RPS and private schools were allowed to apply for summer programs at the same time, so many parents aren’t prepared for this “sudden adjustment,” Liu explains.

“They should have at least consulted with us before making the decision. As we all know, the program seats are minimal - they can all be gone within a few days. There is a very slim chance of getting in after June 1,” she added.

Liu said she reached out to the mayor’s office and six Board of Education trustees in hopes of getting an answer. So far, only one trustee replied, saying they would look into it.

“It’s not wise for them to make this decision. We hope the new policy is just temporary as children should have equal access to education,” said Liu.

The Richmond News reached out to the school district for comment, but was only provided a statement explaining that the decision was made to adhere to guidelines from health authorities.

“The district must adhere to the COVID-19 Public Health Guidance for K-12 School Settings from BC Centre for Disease Control and the Provincial COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines for K-12 Settings from the Ministry of Education, in the development of its 2020 summer school program.  In accordance with these guidelines, the district is limited in the amount of students that it can accept for summer learning programs,” reads the statement.

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