The School District 71 distance learning program has seen a big jump in the number of registrants this fall, including ones from all over the world. Image, Screenshot

Comox Valley distance ed lands almost a thousand new students

International student visits down but students still signing up from all over for online ed

One of the unexpected outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic on school district operations in the Comox Valley has been an uptick in distance learning.

For much of the first month of the school year, administrators have been trying to respond to a different demand for education. In some cases, parents are keeping children at home.

Distance learning provides one option for local families. However, the district has also been experiencing a large increase this fall in its distance learning (DL) opportunities, Navigate NIDES, from students from all corners of the world.

“It’s seem like a real testament to the value of our DL program and the quality,” board chair Sheila McDonnell said. A

At the board meeting in September, assistant superintendent Geoff Manning updated trustees on the district enrolment numbers.

“It’s really a great school year this year,” he said. “We’ve gone through so many challenges, but the news is extremely positive for us.”

In general, most students are back in the classroom working and playing in cohorts. The biggest news though has been the large growth in the numbers of students signing up for distance education from elsewhere, with 976 new students joining the online distance education program.

“That is like adding a school of Isfeld or Vanier to our district in DL,” he said. “Overall, the news for us is really positive.”

After the presentation, trustee Janice Caton asked about the origins of the more than 900 new DL students.

“That’s a really big bump,” she added.

Manning said they come from other parts of Canada, the United States and beyond.

“They’re actually from all over the world. Look at a map and start putting tacks on every country.”

The growth has allowed the district to add additional staff at secondary schools for the independent learning centres that help with remote learning, as well as staff for remote learning on Hornby Island and Denman Island and some additional equipment.

Of students already in the district, there were 211 students enrolled in distance learning locally through Navigate NIDES, while some opted for distance learning through other districts.

As far as student numbers for the return to school in September, about 90 per cent of elementary students returned to their neighbourhood or catchment area school. The numbers for secondary students was about 97 per cent. According to staff, the provincial rate for returning to school is about 85 per cent.

The downside right now has been a drop in the number of visiting international students this year, with pandemic travel restrictions in place. Staff were projecting about 220 full-time equivalent (FTE) students but as of the Sept. 22 meeting, they were at 86.

“That could improve in second semester, and we’re hoping that it improves,” Manning said.

However, the district has also seen an influx of new students moving here, with 65 newly enrolled secondary students and 181 elementary students.

RELATED STORY: Comox Valley board of education approves facility spending plan

Overall, in terms of a net gain for numbers of students in school buildings, the district is 90 students above what they had projected.

“We’re sitting pretty good from that standpoint,” Manning said.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Comox ValleyEducation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vanier students have put together a new video about road safety. Image, screenshot
Too many driving infractions, say School District 71, Comox ValleyRCMP

G.P. Vanier students also put together a video about safe driving and school buses

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter. Photo supplied
Wanted man from Calgary may be in the Comox Valley

Jordan Jay Ward is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for two counts of manslaughter

The City of Courtenay has received an application for a cannabis retail store at the Crown Isle shopping centre. File photo
Cannabis retail proposal draws mixed reviews from Courtenay residents

Coast Range Cannabis has applied to the City of Courtenay to operate… Continue reading

The 5th Street Bridge will be repaired next year. File photo
Former Courtenay councillor suggests waiting a year to repair bridge

In the opinion of a former member of Courtenay council, a year’s… Continue reading

Rotary District 5020 president Rod McKenzie (in chair) agreed to test out the CVCDA ramp and experience it from the perspective of an individual who relies on a wheelchair to get around. McKenzie is being prepped by Comox Valley Wheelchair Sports Society president Stephane Roy. Submitted by CVCDA
Accessibility the focus of Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon

The Comox Valley Child Development Association Telethon will look markedly different this… Continue reading

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

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

Courtenay council
Subdivision proposal causes stir in Courtenay neighbourhood

Courtenay council approved second reading of a rezoning application to subdivide a… Continue reading

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Most Read