Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools’ international student enrolment is rebounding despite the continued prevalence of COVID-19.
Pandemic restrictions limited the number of students from abroad last year; however, according to a staff report, there are 386 international students in Nanaimo-Ladysmith from 25 countries for 2021-22, compared to 161 in 2020-21.
Rob Hutchins, principal of international student education, told trustees at the January education committee meeting numbers have “considerably recovered.”
The district has 199 international students enrolled for the full year, 52 for the fall, 24 short-term students and 111 for the spring. Typically, there are no more than 35 students for the spring, Hutchins said.
“However, last year, because so many kids couldn’t get in the fall because of COVID restrictions, we had a large group of 64 kids come in the spring and a significantly large group of short-term students come as well,” Hutchins said. “This year, we have 111 kids coming in the spring, so our turnover, we have something like 51 fall students leaving and 111 arriving. We’ve never experienced that before.”
Hutchins said even more international students might have come, but the number of families offering their houses for international student homestays was affected by COVID-19 concerns.
While students from China have comprised a majority in the past, demographics have changed this year, said Hutchins, with Germany sending 140 students, followed by 77 from Japan and 48 from China.
He said the shift is largely because German and Japanese students who would have otherwise gone to New Zealand or Australia couldn’t do so because those borders have been closed.
Incoming students are required to quarantine for up to three days while waiting for arrival test results, said the district, with an additional 10 days of isolation should they test positive.
In addition, students will be required to be fully vaccinated, the district said, and of the 111 students, four aren’t fully vaccinated, said Hutchins. The district told the News Bulletin it couldn’t provide further vaccination information, citing privacy.
As of Jan. 3, 133 international student program applications have been processed for the start of the 2022-23 school year. The district is planning on running summer school in July for between 20 and 28 students from Japan.