Shuswap Middle School was one of three schools to lose a teaching position within School District #83 due to enrolment numbers impacted by COVID-19. (Shuswap Middle School/Facebook)

Volatile enrolment leads to loss of teaching staff at 3 North Okanagan-Shuswap schools

Three quarters of students using online learning program expected to return to class

A high number of students transitioning to online instruction necessitated the reduction of a teaching position at three schools in the North Okanagan-Shuswap.

On Tuesday, Sept. 23, during the first School District #83 board of trustees meeting since classes began for the 2020-21 school year, superintendent Peter Jory delved into enrolment and the number of students who’ve opted to take part in the Education Outreach Program (EOP) – the district’s online education program. Previously available to high school students, the program was reopened this year for students in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

As of the Tuesday meeting, Jory said about 300 students had chosen the EOP route. However, he added this was expected to be a temporary situation for 75 per cent of those students who are likely to return to their regular schools before the end of the year. The remaining 25 per cent have indicated the move to EOP will be permanent for the 2020-21 school year.

“This enrolment is very fluid in both directions, with new registrations still occurring daily, and some students already returning to their regular schools,” said Jory.

With the high number of students currently in EOP, as well as students who, for other reasons, have not returned to in-class instruction, the school district was required to reduce one teaching position at three of its schools: MV Beattie Elementary in Enderby, Highland Park Elementary in Armstrong, and Shuswap Middle School in Salmon Arm.

With COVID-19, Jory explained, enrolment was difficult to predict and, with the reduced numbers, an operational decision was required. He said the staffing reductions resulted in a savings of $300,000.

Read more: COVID-19 makes its mark on Shuswap schools, teachers and parents

Read more: Parents surveyed about reopening of School District #83 classrooms

Read more: UPDATE: B.C. teachers’ union calls for remote learning option, stronger mask mandate

“As much as it was a tough decision to make, and it wasn’t necessarily a popular one, especially with enrolment, the board has $300,000 to spend down the road and it was our opinion that that money was going to be needed,” said Jory.

The school district had projected 6,517 students would return, and staffed schools based on that. On a positive note, Jory said about 94 per cent have come back or have agreed to do so, adding the recent provincial average was around 85 per cent.

“Currently, we have just under 180 students on soft-start, 220 in EOP temporarily, and 62 already signed up for EOP all year, with perhaps 30 more on the way,” said Jory. “Assuming everyone that says they will come back does so, we are only down 80 to 100 FTE (full-time equivalent students).

“However, there are unknowns in that range, in that if any of our soft starts or EOP returning students register elsewhere, we will not get funded for them, and the potential liability will grow.”

Trustee Quentin Bruns, who represents Enderby, Sicamous, Electoral Area E (Columbia Shuswap Regional District) and Electoral Area F (Regional District of the North Okanagan), asked what should happen if students currently using the online program decide later in the school year that they wish to transition back to in-class instruction. Jory said the school district would take them if there’s space, or would try to find space for them. In the case of rural schools, like MV Beattie, Jory said if going to a neighbouring school isn’t feasible for the student, the school district would look at going over the contract to find them space.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Schools

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

Just Posted

A firefighter descends the ladder truck after checking on the upper floors of the Clarence House apartment building after a fire broke out Tuesday morning. See story on page 5. 
 (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
UPDATE: Flames doused for second time at fatal Penticton apartment fire

The Elm Ave. building first caught fire around 4 a.m., killing two people and displacing dozens

(Submitted)
Penticton apartment fire claims two lives

An apartment on Elm Avenue went up in flames Tuesday morning

A firefighter descends the ladder truck after checking on the upper floors of the Clarence House apartment building after a fire broke out Tuesday morning. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

MLA Dan Ashton (Contributed)
Penticton MLA won’t seek leadership of B.C. Liberals

Dan Ashton believes a moderate leader with broad appeal is needed

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Two have been taken to hospital following a vehicle crash north of Vernon on Highway 97 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Morning Star)
Crash north of Vernon causes Highway 97 traffic delays

Emergency crews respond to two-vehicle incident near Swan Lake; occupants taken to hospital

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

A Summerland woman has set up an online fundraiser to provide backpacks to those being released from correctional facilities.(ca.gofundme.com)
Summerland woman raising money for backpack program

Backpacks will be distributed to those being released from correctional facilities

École de l’Anse-au-sable. (Google Maps)
15 cases of COVID-19 tied to Kelowna Francophone school outbreak

Three other schools in Kelowna are also dealing with potential exposure events

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

A four-vehicle accident on the Bruhn Bridge in Sicamous destroyed two cars and a section of bridge guardrail but remarkably injured no one. (Sicamous RCMP Image)
Sicamous’ Bruhn Bridge site of two collisions

Although a total of five vehicles were involved, no one was injured

Steven Gardner in an Instagram selfie that contributed to his arrest.
Receipt plus Instagram selfie leads to arrest of Kamloops man

Steven Gardner is facing three firearms charges

Most Read