A French as a second language advocacy group criticized Rocky View School’s (RVS) announcement that French immersion and other alternative programs will not be included in its expanded online course offerings this fall.
A French as a second language advocacy group criticized Rocky View Schools (RVS) ‘s recent announcement that French immersion and other alternative programs will not be included in its expanded online course offering this fall.
According to Michael Tryon, executive director of Canadian Parents for French Alberta (CPF Alberta), comments from parents and stakeholders have indicated that some members of the public are not happy with RVS’s decision.
“From what we understand, the online program that [RVS] has offered, [and are] currently offer was quite extensive. The families who had taken advantage of the programming were very satisfied, ”said Tryon.
He added that many parents and students discovered the change in RVS’s online programming when they registered online for the 2021-2022 school year and discovered a notification regarding a lack of French language offerings ” buried in the middle of the page ”.
“We’re kind of upset that this was done without consultation, with very limited notice. It was all right out of the blue, ”he said. “The fashion in which it was done was not good.”
Parents have until May 31 to make a decision regarding their children’s learning format for the next school year, according to a press release from CPF Alberta. The closure of the Alberta Distance Learning Center in June leaves French immersion students with little or no distance learning option within the RVS.
“This decision forces parents to choose between allowing their children to continue in French immersion or having them learn in an environment where the health and safety of their families come first,” said the press release from CPF Alberta. “All these students have been in French immersion since kindergarten and it would be heartbreaking for them not to be able to continue.
Following the announcement by the RVS Board on April 1 of the continuation and expansion of its e-learning offerings for the 2021-2022 school year, the board appointed a group of work to survey stakeholders regarding potential changes.
The council received a total of 1,100 responses to the survey from parents and stakeholders and, following the recommendations of the task force, decided to offer an expanded regular component program to online students next fall.
Discussing the division’s online offerings at the May 20 board meeting, the directors added that they hope the planned offerings will set the stage for further French immersion and faith-based programs at the to come up.
“It’s prudent in a first year program to focus on getting that program up and running,” said Todd Brand, Ward 3 (Airdrie) administrator. “This is whole new territory and I would be surprised if we had enough numbers in any alternative program to switch over to a whole pool of qualified teachers to be able to do that.”
Brand noted that it would be difficult to “watch a full alternative program the same year you try to launch two new [online] schools in a whole new way of doing school. “
Likewise, Ward 1 (Chestermere) administrator Shali Baziuk echoed Brand’s sentiments and said it would be “wise” to focus on creating a successful regular track program before adding any more. additional programs of choice.
“I would love to see [the addition of additional programs] once we’re able to do it – especially in my parish, where French immersion only goes to grade 9, ”she said. “At some point it would be a great opportunity for parents to get it, but I understand that we have to get it right first before we start adding more to the mix.”
According to CPF Alberta, 46,636 students (6.3% of the total student population in Alberta) were enrolled in a French immersion program in Alberta during the 2019-2020 school year. Tryon said the need for French immersion online offers has become more evident during the COVID-19 pandemic,
“For parents who have made the decision to keep their children at home, regardless of their age, they fear they will not know what the reality will be in September when classes start,” he said. “[They’re concerned about] the reality around the pandemic, the reality around the guarantees that schools will implement, the reality around the needs of each child.
He added that some students have medical issues that need to be considered, while other students thrive simply by participating in an online model rather than going to school in person.
He added that he would like to see RVS return to the drawing board, contacting stakeholders, parents and voters to determine a path forward for French immersion students.
“While you have such a strong history of delivering this program in the community, why don’t you consult us first?” he said.
“It’s all just pulled out from under them without any consultation, without contact – nothing.”
In response to the CPF Alberta press release, the RVS Board of Directors wrote in a statement emailed to Airdrie city view that, based on feedback from survey respondents, the total number of online registrations in 2021-2022 is expected to be less than half of what it was this year.
“If our online French immersion numbers halved at levels 1 to 9, then we wouldn’t have enough numbers to offer the program,” the statement read. “What is it [means is], we have decided to focus our efforts on regular programming in 2021-2022.
“In the following years, we may be able to expand our online offerings and consider introducing premium programs if the number of registrations is high enough to make them viable.”
The release also states that even though online offerings have been discontinued, RVS continues to believe in and invest in French immersion programs at all RVS French immersion schools.
Carmen Cundy, AirdrieToday.com
Follow me on twitter @carmenrcundy