However, according to a February 9 report to the school board, the program is feeling the loss of day classes, which were cut last year for space and budget reasons
New Westminster’s adult education program continues to thrive despite the move to evening classes – but the program would like to return to day classes if the district can find a way.
This news was delivered to the New Westminster School Board at the February 9th Operations Committee meeting.
Headmaster Stephen Inniss has briefed the board on developments in continuing education this school year. Inniss noted that the program has changed a lot since the school board decided in March last year to discontinue daytime training for space and financial reasons. Since then, the program has moved from its former handheld device next to the old New Westminster Secondary School. Courses are now offered in the new NWSS.
Registration numbers have decreased with the loss of daily rates. From September 2019 to January 2020, 510 students attended morning and afternoon classes, and these classes no longer exist. 380 students from the same period took part in the late afternoon and evening; last fall, that number was 347.
“Nobody knew how we would register for students as there is no daily program and of course there is a pandemic. Would our students come in and how many? “Inniss said the bottom line was positive. “The students still find us or stay with us when they can come at night in more or less the number they were.”
NEW NWSS A GOOD SPACE
Inniss said the move to the new NWSS was positive amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the classroom configuration allows them to open up the walls between rooms to create more space for social distancing. Despite this additional space, however, the program has switched to a hybrid model in order to take into account the required distance: half of the students are in the classroom at all times, the other half study remotely on alternating days.
“The students are having problems with the challenge of being present partly online and partly in person, and we have managed to show a lot of flexibility,” said Inniss.
Inniss noted that they made an exception for the beginners learning English for whom the combination of technology and language was just too much of a burden. For these classes, he said, the program has moved to the largest rooms it can find to keep students at a distance.
There was also some flexibility for students to make room for those whose circumstances require them to study mostly online or, on the other hand, for those who lack the facility with technology and who need to be there in person.
DAILY PROGRAMS A LOSS
Trustee Maya Russell asked what the school district could do for the program.
“It was a very difficult decision to reduce the size of the program last year and I am happy to hear your thoughts on what the need is. If you had a wand what needs could we meet? “She asked Inniss.
Inniss acknowledged the school board’s need to make difficult decisions, but admitted that the shift to evening classes brought some challenges.
One of them, he said, is the impact on students who want to work their way through the multi-level literacy and math courses that move students from the beginnings of reading and math to the equivalent of a grade 10 level. Inniss noted that during the daytime class, students could attend every day and complete each of these levels in six weeks. In the evenings, students cannot progress as quickly due to the twice-weekly courses.
“Our students have repeatedly asked about day options,” he said. “These are things I would like to do.”
He also noted that the program for the second semester of courses (which just started Feb. 8) had to turn away some students because it was unable to find all the staff it needed. Instead, employees were able to find student places in the training programs of other districts.
“It would have been nice to have the opportunity to serve them here,” he said.
Overall, says Inniss, the room in the new NWSS is inviting for adult learners. For example, he noted, the “Grand Commons” room gives them a place to sit while they wait for class to begin.
“We have space and the essentials. The essence of what they’re looking for is, “Give me an education and let me move on as soon as possible,” and they have, and it’s easily accessible, “he said.
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