The Sooke School District 62 sent out to an email to parents warning them their children could be prevented from enrolling in school if they regularly miss class to go to private learning during school hours. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

The Sooke School District 62 sent out to an email to parents warning them their children could be prevented from enrolling in school if they regularly miss class to go to private learning during school hours. (Justin Samanski-Langille/News Staff)

Parents sending kids to private lessons during school hours risk future enrolment, SD62 says

School district said repeat absences becoming a problem among middle school students

Parents who sign their kids out of class during school hours to attend private learning may not be allowed to continue to enroll in their local public school, according to an email sent by Sooke School District associate superintendent David Strange.

Increasingly, parents are signing their kids out of school during the day in favour of taking them to private learning, according to the email. SD62 said in a statement that numbers spiked during the pandemic and impact middle school students (aged 11 to 14). One of the biggest reasons is parents taking their kids to high-performance athletic training opportunities for sports like hockey, swimming and gymnastics.

Strange said if parents continue to sign their kids out of class to attend private programs or academies, they “may not be able to continue in their neighbourhood middle school educational program and will need to explore other educational offerings” like blended learning or homeschooling.

“It is important to understand that educational programming at the middle school level is offered on a face-to-face basis with an expectation to students regularly attending all classes. SD62 middle schools are not able to support the learning needs of students that are regularly missing instruction to attend private programs and private academies and will not be able to provide missing work and additional instruction for catch up,” Strange added.

The Goldstream Gazette has spoken to parents from multiple SD62 schools who raised concerns about a decline in standards for teaching at schools.

One parent, who has been kept anonymous because their partner is a teacher who works with SD62, said they noticed a big gap in learning during the pandemic when virtual learning was in place. They have put their two children in private tutoring after school to help make sure their kids are understanding key concepts.

The BC Ministry of Health conducted a survey in June 2020 of parents that found 76 per cent of respondents reported impaired learning. A journal article written by University of Ottawa professor Julia Whiteley found that vulnerable children (low income, learning disabilities) were impacted more, with a stark increase in “disengagement, chronic attendance problems, declines in academic achievement, and decreased credit attainment during the pandemic.”

Strange’s email urges parents to reach out to their child’s principals if they plan to keep signing their child out of class.

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bailey.moreton@goldstreamgazette.com

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