Distance learning interest still strong, says principal

Even though enrollment at FVDES has declined, principal Dave Manuel says Chilliwack school district shouldn't worry.

In a time when distributed learning schools should be growing in student enrollment, they’re not.

But according to David Manuel, principal of Fraser Valley Distance Education, alarm bells should not yet be rung.

Earlier this week, while preparing for a presentation at Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Manuel expected to be grilled on the school’s enrollment, which, last month, was reported to trustees as declining.

At the Jan. 21 board meeting, the school was highlighted as having experienced enrollment decline for the past two to three years, despite continuing to be the second largest distance learning (DL) school in the province.

This year, the district is projecting 814 full-time equivalent students – down 87 students from last year.

“All DL schools have slowed down [with enrollment],” said Manuel.

For several reasons.

In 2006, when the B.C. Education Ministry changed policy to allow high school students to cross enroll, taking courses at both brick-and-mortar schools and DL schools, DL enrollment skyrocketed across the province.

“The numbers went massive,” said Manuel.

But in 2010, changes were made.

Students enrolled in DL schools are now required to complete five per cent of their course before the school can claim them and receive ministry funding for them. Previously, DL schools were able to claim students as soon as they registered for a course.

At FVDES, students have one full year to complete a course.

“At any given time I have about 100 or close to 200 full-time equivalents sitting there, waiting to get active,” said Manuel.

“We need to figure out how to get them going.”

In 2011, the Ministry of Education also stopped funding DL support blocks. Previously, high schools received funding for providing designated classrooms, with teacher supervision, where students could work on DL courses.

“That was the biggest one where we saw decline,” said Manuel. “When the ministry took that away, it made it harder for those kids to take the regular school program and take our program. It had a huge impact on enrollment.”

Last year, the government also limited course availability for adult students. For years, graduated adults have been able to take any DL course for free with funding provided by the ministry. But last year, that was changed to only essentials – English, math, science, etc.

“That was another big reduction,” said Manuel.

The changes conflict with the ministry’s push for 21st Century Learning, and an education model that features K-12 blended learning where students can take courses at both brick-and-mortar and DL schools.

But there are also positive changes on the horizon, said Manuel.

This year, the ministry changed policy to allow Grade 8 and 9 students to now access DL courses while enrolled in regular middle school.

“We’ve got two more grade levels now – that’s a big positive,” said Manuel.

“I think the Grade 8 and 9 change is going to have an interesting effect. I don’t know if it will reach that high again [from a few years ago], but it will have an impact.”

There’s also references for K-12 cross enrollment in the school act, which Manuel believes could give DL schools even more grades to work with in the future.

“DL is alive and well,” he said.



Just Posted

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

Alexis Paige Simpson has not been in contact with her family in two months. (RCMP photo)
UPDATE: Chilliwack RCMP looking for missing 20-year-old woman

Parents of Alexis Paige Simpson provide corrected information in missing person report

(Pixabay Image)
Monday’s top temperature topples record in Agassiz

Temps reached into the low 30s to break records in Agassiz, Environment Canada says

BC Wildfire Service (Black Press Media files)
Fire at Eleven Mile Creek near Hope classified as out of control

It’s a small blaze so far at 20 hectares, but firefighters don’t yet have a handle on it

A drone’s-eye view of the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. (Screenshot/Shutter Speed Network)
Kent Council advocates for a wider Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge

Council voted unanimously to send letter of concern to transportation ministry

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in December that Surrey’s new hospital will be located in Cloverdale, next to KPU. (File photo: Malin Jordan)
Health minister expects construction of Surrey’s new hospital in Cloverdale to begin in 2023, open in 2027

Adrian Dix spoke Tuesday in a Zoom meeting hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade concerning the new hospital

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

B.C. conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter said a black bear is believed to have killed local livestock. (THE NEWS/files)
Black bear believed to have killed miniature donkey in Maple Ridge

Trap set for predator that has been killing livestock

Most Read