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Burnaby summer school sees 2,200 registrations in first 10 minutes

All classes face-to-face including one for students who've been away from school because of COVID-19
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Summer school courses, including sewing, that were cancelled last year because of COVID are back on this year in Burnaby.

The 2020/21 school year has been anything but normal, so it’s not surprising Burnaby school officials in charge of summer school were a little anxious about numbers this summer.

They needn’t have worried.

Within 10 minutes of opening registrations online Tuesday (April 13), they got 2,200, according to the district.

By the end of the day, they had nearly 6,000 registrations.

“We’re really excited about the number,” director of instruction Kevin Brandt said. “Obviously this has been a unique year and experience for everyone, and you never know on opening day if all of a sudden it’s going to fall flat and nobody wants to go because of anxiety or whatever, but that wasn’t the case.”

After a drastically trimmed summer session last year that was only open to Burnaby students, this year’s program will look a little more like other years.

The courses are once again open to students from surrounding districts, for example, and there will be regular-sized, in-person classes in the mornings – with more options than last year.

But important anti-COVID measures will still be in place, according to Brandt.

The afternoon classes will be half the size, for example, to allow for social distancing because cohorts (each morning class comprises its own cohort) may be combined in them.

Summer session classes will also stay up to date with public health orders on such things as group sizes and masking, Brandt said.

The pandemic's influence can also be seen in a new course offering this year: Return to In-Class Instruction for Grade 8 and 9 students.

“That’s kind of a refresher for students in the event that they’ve had to learn virtually for the past year,” said Cesare Martino, the district principal in charge of summer school. “Some of the feedback we’ve heard from schools with students that returned from virtual learning is that they need a bit of a refresher when it comes to literacy and numeracy and just classroom etiquette and feeling comfortable … It gives students that soft start.”

As with years past, some of the most popular courses this year, based on registrations so far, are the hands-on classes, like cabinet making, robotics and baking, according to Brandt and Martino.

On that front, Cariboo Hill Secondary School, which hasn’t hosted summer school courses for years, will be set up as a “tech hub” this summer, hosting a slew of so-called ADST (applied design, skills and technology ) courses for both elementary and high school students.

Martino said the school district made a conscious decision to offer all its summer courses in-person, unlike districts like Coquitlam, which have decided to go online.

“We think it’s really important that it’s in person because we have a lot of students who maybe have had atypical years, as we all have, where they’ve had to jump back and forth between face-to-face and virtual,” he said. “We really think there’s a lot of value to face-to-face learning, and that’s why we set it up in this way.”

Brandt said taking a face-to-face summer school class also gives students who’ve been out of the traditional classroom setting a chance to ramp back up to learning in-person come September.

Some of this year’s courses filled up within minutes of registration opening, but kids looking to get into one of those popular classes need not despair yet.

“We look at the courses and their popularity, and then we do our best to try and add additional blocks and spaces,” Brandt said. “We’ve added a number already, and we’re looking at adding some more over the next several weeks.”

The district is also working on a waitlist system to help manage demand.

For more information about the district’s summer school session, visit burnabyschools.ca/summersession.

Follow Cornelia Naylor on Twitter @CorNaylor
Email cnaylor@burnabynow.com