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Secondary School Schedule Changes Q3, Q4 2020-21

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Introduction

The Vancouver School District’s 2020-2021 secondary school year schedule enables secondary students to attend school each day while complying with the government’s COVID-19 health and safety requirements. It prioritizes student choice while maintaining pathways to graduation, and allows for consistency across all 18 secondary schools in the District. 

As we listen to feedback and make data-driven decisions about student schedules, our guiding principles continue to be:

  1. Ensuring the health and safety of students, staff and communities
  2. Communicating thoughtfully, transparently and in a timely manner
  3. Providing connections so students feel valued and have a sense of belonging and community
  4. Continued learning opportunities so that all students can successfully transition to their next phase of learning

Informed by these principles, and considering feedback from students, families and staff, as well as data about student attendance and achievement, we are refining secondary school schedules moving forward.

Changes to schedules for Quarter 3, beginning February 4


As with any school year, VSB receives feedback from families from various channels throughout the year. We receive and review this input carefully and respectfully.

To hear from a diverse and representative range of families from across the District, VSB asked that students and families share their input through the survey we offered from November 27 to December 6, 2020. We had 11,339 visitors participate in the survey - 5,176 students and 6,163 parents/ caregivers. We compiled the input from this engagement along with feedback from teachers, staff, administrators, and school communities. The changes made to the schedule reflect our commitment to student well-being, transparency, and data-driven decision-making.

The results of the survey indicated:

  • 53% of students and 56% of parents or caregivers agree that they or their child feels connected to one or more adults in their school, including teachers, principals, counsellors, community schools team members, Indigenous education workers, support staff, etc.
  • 74% of students and 61% of parents or caregivers agree that the experience is less than ideal without the activities and events in other years.
  •  55% of students and 47% of parents or caregivers agree that they or their child has adjusted to fewer in-person social activities at school and is taking part in other ways, like in live-streamed events.
  • 65% of students and 60% of parents or caregivers agree that they or their child is finding ways to stay motivated and connected with the people who are important to them – friends, family, community groups, etc.

Read details about the survey results

Questions & Answers

What is changing for secondary school schedules?

For Quarter 3, beginning February 4:

  1. All grade 8 students will attend their remote class in person, twice per week, during Flex time. The days and times students attend will be determined by the school.  This will be communicated to students by their classroom teacher at the beginning of quarter 3. 
  2. All schools will go to a one-week rotation of remote and in-person classes. The rotation will be determined and published by the school.
  3. All students  will have three interactive learning opportunities per week for remote classes. For example:
    1. In-person learning
    2. Synchronous lessons where student and staff schedules allow
    3. Recorded lesson for students to access
    4. Moderated group discussion
    5. Scheduled small group tutorials
  4. One of the three interactive learning opportunities must involve social interaction between students.
  5. Schools will continue to identify and implement plans for students who require additional academic and social and emotional support.
  6. Schools will continue to provide school-wide opportunities for more in-person learning.
  7. Students currently attending full time and in person, will continue to do so, and see minimal schedule changes.
  8. Health and safety precautions continue to be in place.
  9. The District is increasing safe social and learning opportunities for students.
  10. The District is committed to providing ongoing support for those most vulnerable in our schools.

How has the 2020-2021 secondary school schedule been structured, before these changes?

The 2020-21 school year is divided into quarters. The quarterly model maximizes existing schedules and staffing levels, prioritizes student choice, enables students to continue on their chosen graduation plan, and complies with COVID-19 health and safety parameters.
In the quarterly model, students take two courses every 10 weeks, with a Flex period each day. Students with diverse learning needs are supported through individual education plans, during Flex time, by their classroom teacher, and by other school staff. Flex time is also used for instruction for unique programs like yearbook, trades, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement courses, etc.

Every day in each quarter, a student has Course 1, Course 2, and a Flex period. Course 1 meets in-person, with in-person instruction. Course 2 is attended remotely. Up until now, every 2 weeks within the quarter, the course format flips; the student would then meet in-person for Course 2, and Course 1 is completed through remote learning. For both the Flex time period and the course being offered through remote learning, students can complete their work at home or in a safe school area with access to wifi and necessary devices.

Why are these changes being made? 

These changes ensure health and safety remain our top priority for students and staff. These changes reflect our commitment to student well-being, transparency, and data-driven decision-making. 

We have been listening to students, families and staff, and we have been analyzing information about student attendance and achievement. From November 25 to December 6, 2020, VSB requested input from secondary students and their families, about their experience in the adapted school year schedule. We heard from 5,176 students and 6,163 families. VSB also received input from school staff about their experiences. Finally, VSB conducted a comprehensive analysis of secondary student attendance and achievement across the District, based on data from the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year.  

While health and safety remain our top priority for students and staff, feedback and data tell us we need to make adjustments to schedules moving forward.

When do the changes take effect?

The changes take effect at the beginning of Quarter 3, February 4, 2021.

How many students will now be in classrooms at one time?

There will continue to be 15 students or fewer, in classrooms.

My child attends a District special education program. How will they be impacted by these changes?

Students currently attending full time, in person, will see minimal schedule changes. If you are a parent or guardian of a student in a District special education program and you have a question or concern, please reach out to the program teacher.

Why is VSB changing its schedule when other districts are not?

Every school district in B.C. has developed school schedules that comply with COVID-19 health and safety protocols while considering their local context. The Ministry of Education has provided school districts flexibility to meet the unique needs of their area.
The consultation we carried out in November, December and January was for students, families and staff in the Vancouver School District only. We are committed to responding to the needs of students, families and staff in our jurisdiction. The data tell us we need to make adjustments moving forward, for our District.

How will these changes impact at-risk learners and other vulnerable students?

As a result of these changes, some students will have more in-person time with teachers and other students. Students will have stronger connections with their peers and adults at school. 

While more in-person time with teachers and other students is valuable for all learners, it can be especially helpful for our more vulnerable students.  

Moving forward, schools will continue to identify and implement plans for students who require additional academic and social and emotional support, as they have been so far this year. Schools will also continue to provide school-wide opportunities for more in-person learning.

Have these changes been reviewed by Vancouver Coastal Health?

VSB operates within the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) region. Changes have been reviewed by VCH and they have confirmed they meet COVID health and safety requirements. All schools in the VCH region have robust safety plans in place. Schools are considered controlled and low-risk environments because they include a consistent grouping of people, such as a class setting.  

The VSB has been working closely with the Medical Health Officer at VCH to ensure health and safety remain our top priority for students and staff, while we implement schedule changes to support student learning and well-being.

Where can I find information about COVID-19 exposures and contact tracing?

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) conducts consistent and vigorous monitoring and contact-tracing of COVID-19 in schools. VCH tracks school exposures and provides an up-to-date list of current school exposures in our region. 

For the latest information about COVID-19 exposures in Vancouver-area schools, go to http://www.vch.ca/covid-19/sch...

Do these changes reflect feedback VSB has received from parents throughout the school year thus far?

As with any school year, VSB receives feedback from families from a variety of channels, throughout the year. We receive and review this input carefully and respectfully. 

To hear from a diverse and representative range of families from across the District, VSB asked that families share their input through the survey we offered from November 27 to December 6, 2020. Over 6,100 respondents answered. The input from this engagement was then coupled with feedback from staff and students themselves. The changes we are making to the schedule reflect our commitment to student well-being, transparency, and data-driven decision-making.

What additional health measures will be put in place, to mitigate increased COVID-19 exposure risks, because of these changes?

All health and safety measures prescribed by the Provincial Health Office will remain in place, including:

  1. Hand-washing or sanitizing stations are in place in all schools.
  2. There are frequent reminders about practising respiratory etiquette and maintaining physical distance.
  3. Access to schools will be limited to staff and students. Visitors can request an appointment through the school office.
  4. Traffic flow in common spaces will be managed through directional signs.
  5. Masks will be provided through funding from the provincial government.
  6. Every student and staff member will be given masks when they return to school.
  7. Students and staff will have the choice to wear a mask in the classroom.
  8. Secondary students will wear masks while in high traffic areas, like hallways, and any time they are outside of the classroom or learning group and they cannot physically distance themselves from others.
  9. Mask use and hygiene will be regularly reviewed in schools.
  10. Secondary schools will not have common lunch breaks for students.
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