Nanaimo Ladysmith school district has put distance-learning registrations on hold.
Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools made the announcement about its Island ConnectEd program via social media Monday, Nov. 16, noting that the grades affected by the hold are kindergarten to Grade 9.
Dale Burgos, school district spokesman, said the hold is the result of a situation that has evolved over a number of months. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the district has been receiving increasing numbers of registrations for Island ConnectED.
“The decision behind the hold on kindergarten to Grade 9 is COVID-related, but there are other factors involved in that,” Burgos said.
Factors include funding, staffing and physical space available for both students and staff at Island ConnectEd’s physical location at the former Mount Benson Elementary School on Jingle Pot Road, and a growing backlog of registrations waiting to be processed.
“Right from the beginning of COVID, on a steady basis, we’re receiving more and more registrations at Island ConnectED. Since the beginning of September, even more so,” Burgos said. “We had given families some time [through the] transition learning program, so they had up until Nov. 6 to decide if they’re going to return to class, go to Island ConnectED or return to home-schooling. Through that period we’re receiving more registrations and now staff at the school have to catch up because of the number of registrants … we have registrants who registered before the deadline that we just haven’t been able to get to yet.”
Burgos said he did not have information, as of Monday afternoon, when registrations would resume.
Five schools in Nanaimo Ladysmith have had COVID-19 exposure over the past two weeks: Dover Bay Secondary, John Barsby Secondary, Frank J. Ney Elementary, Randerson Ridge Elementary and Ladysmith Secondary.
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, at a press conference Monday, was asked about the possibility of starting the school Christmas break earlier or extending it later into the new year. She reiterated that COVID-19 transmission rates are lower in schools than elsewhere in the community.
“We know [it is] incredibly important for families and for children to have in-person, in-class schools, but we are looking at all of our options,” she said, adding that it’s important for everyone to do their part to try to limit the spread of the virus to allow children to continue to attend school.