Don't want to send your kid back to school? Your options in B.C. are limited | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Don't want to send your kid back to school? Your options in B.C. are limited

July 30, 2020 - 3:05 PM

As B.C. moves into a new model of schooling under COVID-19 in September, students will still have options other than full-time in-class attendance.

Details are still being worked out on what the fall will look like, especially in roughly 15 of the larger high schools in B.C. – some of which are in the Okanagan – who may have to go to a hybrid model similar to what was done in June with a mix of in-class and on-line learning.

When B.C. announced schools would be back in session, many readers asked if online learning was still going to be available. We've tried to get something definitive from the B.C. Ministry of Education with little results. We were told a news release may be issued today. Our understanding at this point is if online options are available it will only be in certain large high schools. 

But there's an option called "distributed learning" that has been available for many years that, essentially, will allow parents to design their own hybrid model even if their children are not attending a large high school.

“In this style of learning, students can connect with their teacher from anywhere in the world on their own schedule and their own terms,” states the Ministry of Education website. “Teachers use a wide variety of electronic tools to teach their students including voice and video conferencing over the Internet, email, telephone calls and others.”

Students can take one course at a time or a full course load through distributed learning.

There are currently about 28,000 B.C. students getting their education this way.

Distributed learning is not home schooling.

“Homeschooling is absolutely 100 per cent outside the school system in B.C. and it’s unfunded for the most part,” Sandra Kwitkoski, a board member of the B.C. Homeschooling Association told

Even during the height of the COVID-19 lockdown there were not a lot of calls to the association from people wanting to homeschool.

READ MORE: Homeschool or public school? B.C. parents facing a dilemma

In fact, she said, there were 30,000 students in B.C. being educated outside of brick and mortar schools two years ago, which is the most recent data available. Only 2,000 are officially being home schooled.

The government website outlines some key differences between the two systems.

Distributed learning students are supervised by qualified teachers, use school approved resources, get report cards three times a year and have to take provincial exams.

None of that applies to homeschooled children.

Kwitkoski said the number of students who are homeschooled is slowly growing. August is always a busy month for the association so time will tell if concerns about COVID-19 will lead to more parents choosing that option.

There are many reasons people choose to homeschool, she said. Some are religious. Some are people who don’t like what’s being taught in the regular school system and some travel.

“Most (reasons) have to do with freedom,” Kwitkoski said. “Most people who homeschool are fed up. They want to be completely in control of what their children are learning how and when.”

Learn more about the B.C. Homeschooling Association here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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