Value of virtual seen despite LKDSB online registration decrease

Students learning. (Photo by Allanah Wills)

There’s a big drop-off in the number of Lambton-Kent students opting for online classes this coming school year.

Lambton Kent District School Board Elementary Program Superintendent Ben Hazzard said around 350 elementary students and about 350 secondary students have registered for virtual schooling in September.

The total of about 700 students is down from the 3,000 or so that chose online schooling this past year. It also represents about three-and-a-half percent of the total student body of around 20,000 students.

Despite the decrease, Hazzard said the numbers tell the board that a virtual option is viable and that it’s valued by a number of families in the board.

“It really shows, because the demand is there, that we’re able to meet that demand and support our families and our community by having a virtual option that will build on the successes that we had this year.”

Hazzard said the board has also seen many students thrive in the virtual learning environment, through things like increased participation and access to different types of learning opportunities.

He said virtual learning has also highlighted the benefits of in-person learning.

“So we’re able to recommend and highlight all of the great things that in-person learning does for our students — socialization, the face-to-face interactions — and we’ve seen a benefit of that throughout the past year even during the pandemic.”

Hazzard said along with many students, there are some educators who do prefer the virtual format.

“There’s been significant learning throughout the year — really great professionalism, as teachers have learned ways to engage students who aren’t right there in front of them, and really recreate the learning opportunities for students and really meet them where they’re at — it’s been an area of success.”

The LKDSB’s deadline to register for virtual learning was April 21. Unlike the previous school year, students will not be able to switch between in-person and virtual schooling.