News & Events

Home & Online Learning … defining the alternatives to in-class

One of the questions we’re hearing a lot from parents is: what are my options right now?

We believe schools are the best places to students to learn.

But we also know the reasons people have for asking this question are diverse and important. Every family has faced the COVID outbreak with a different set of challenges and a different set of needs.

We know that sometimes the question has come out of serious health concerns a family is managing in this complicated time. Sometimes it’s been about the anxiety people feel as we navigate a lot of unknowns. Sometimes the motivation to ask has just been about logically understanding options and consequences to make sure any decision is fully informed.

As a District, we’ve worked hard to look at every option and build in as much flexibility to our plan as we can – including proudly expanding our programs and adding whole new offerings.

But we want to also be very clear: the options available look much different than remote learning in the Spring looked. And choosing a plan for your kids (and your family) needs to be a process that’s informed by really knowing what you’re signing up for, and what that move will mean in the long run as the situation continues to evolve and change.

First, what are the choices*?

  • Our newly created Online Learning for K-8 program: delivering lessons and home learning supports to parents wanting to deliver their kids’ learning in a home environment, through a digital platform.
  • Online Learning, with expanded offerings to support students in grades 9-12: students can be enrolled in full-time online learning through the year, or sign up for individual classes as a supplement to face-to-face instruction they’re receiving at NWSS.
  • Home Learners Program at Hume Park: our hybrid model home school program, for students in grades K-8 … combining face-to-face and home learning, and supporting parents and students in developing their own learning path.
  • Home Schooling: a K-12 alternative where schooling becomes the full responsibility of the parent and is not supervised by a BC certified teacher.
  • Individualized plans for students with immune suppression: According to the Provincial Health Officer most children who are immunocompromised can return to in-class instruction when safety measures are in place. However, alternate options are available on a case-by-case basis for K-12 students and parents/caregivers who have consulted with their doctor, and who have obtained a doctor’s note indicating the need for accommodation due to health related risks. Families in this situation should contact their school Principal to discuss their needs and options, by no later than 4pm on Monday August 31.

Interested in one or more of the above alternatives? Read the section below that offers more insight and detail on what each program involves for both students and parents, as well as the section at the bottom that speaks to understanding the consequences of removing your child from their catchment or enrolled school or program.

Our new Online Learning for K-8 program

We’re really proud to be able to offer this newly created program for New Westminster. While we believe that schools are the best place for most students to learn, we also heard from families who had health concerns or varying degrees of worry around what was going to be right for their family.

This new inclusive program will include some real-time learning, which will require students to participate at set times. It will also be supplemented by videos and independent work. To meet the needs of all learners this program will be supported by a range of classroom and learning support teachers, educational assistants and counsellors.

Parents and caregivers must be prepared to provide the necessary additional support and guidance required to help children successfully keep on track with their learning. Students will still be able to reach out to ask for support from their assigned online teacher, but that may or may not be available in real-time.

This model aims to be as inclusive in its offerings as we can. We are doing the best to meet the full range of needs our students have. But this offerings cannot replace the full experience of in-class learning.

Other things to note:

  • Access to digital devices and internet connection is required. Loans of District Chromebooks may be possible on a case-by-case basis.
  • Due to staffing and cohort issues, spaces in this program may be limited and could result in the use of a randomized draw.

Our newly expanded Online Learning for grades 9-12 (part-time and full-time)

Online learning for grades 9-12 is a great option for students who need flexibility to learn from any location or at times that work best for them.

Teachers are available for support when requested, though may or may not be available for real-time support.

Students can be enrolled in full-time online learning throughout the year, or sign up for individual classes as a supplement to those they’re enrolled in through NWSS.

While students in online learning programs generally have a full year to complete their course requirements, in this unusual year, other completion schedules may be possible. Academic advisors from our online learning program are available to discuss scheduling options.

Other things to note:

  • Access to digital devices and internet connection is required. Loans of District Chromebooks may be possible on a case-by-case basis.
  • Due to staffing and cohort issues, spaces in this program may be limited and could result in the use of a randomized draw.

Home Learners at Hume Park – newly expanded

The Home Learners program supports families and students who are looking for a community-based, hybrid model of learning. At Hume Park, students work on individualized plans that are built by considering the combination of student and parent learning goals, under the direction and support of teachers.

This program requires up to 50% attendance at the school’s site, supplemented by parent-led home instruction. HLP at Hume Park is heavily driven by project-based and experiential learning opportunities. Families learn and grow together, at their own pace, around individual interests, with teachers there to encourage the child’s natural curiosity and love of learning.

In addition to teacher availability to support learning, workshops are available most weeks at the Hume Park location. Those classes may include: workshops with local authors, coding classes, outdoor experiences, drama days, Showcase Days around specific learning areas, or in-person applied design lessons.

Students and families who are most successful at the Home Learners Program tend to have at least one parent who can be very engaged in actively adding learning opportunities into their broader daily activities and schedules.

Other things to note:

  • Individualized learning plans are developed over the first few weeks of September, with more formalized learning opportunities starting closer to the end of the month
  • As per new Ministry guidelines around health and safety at schools, any student enrolled in the Home Learners Program will be assigned to a maximum cohort of 60 people.
  • Space in this program is limited. If the number of applications exceeds the capacity to accomodate, a random draw will be used to fill the newly created spaces.

Homeschooling (K-12)

This alternative is available to all parents across BC. Choosing this route means removing all registration and enrollment from New Westminster Schools, and the schooling becomes the full responsibility of the parent and is not supervised by a BC certified teacher.

For more information on homeschooling:

Those intending to remove themselves from New Westminster Schools to pursue a traditional home schooling option must declare that intent to Principal at the school in which they are currently enrolled school or program by no later than September 30, 2020.


What you need to know before applying for one of the alternative programs

We heard that you needed options. And we worked hard to be flexible whenever possible. But, as a small district trying to do a lot of big things, we also have limitations. And we want to be very clear about those limitations to help make sure that, as you consider what the best path for your family is, you make a fully informed decision.

So, here are the details you also need to know before considering if one of the programs is right for any or all of your children:

  • We are happy to say that, if you apply and get a spot in one of the newly created or expanded New Westminster Schools program, we will hold your child’s spot in their catchment/enrolling school for the 2021/2022 school year (confirmation will be required within the first months of 2021). We heard how much you valued your local school and we really wanted to help support that connection for students, families and our staff.
  • If you do opt for one of the online learning programs or into Home Learners at Hume Park, and wish to return to your current school, we will make our best effort to accommodate your request but can not guarantee it.
  • We do not have the capacity to offer online learning in separate streams to also align with programs of choice. If you opt to leave one of our programs of choice, we can not guarantee your return into that program of choice.
  • That said, it is our goal to help families who may choose to leave our schools this year – for whatever reason – opportunities to return when they feel it is safe to do so. But we also need to consider the impact on learning that a full year away from an immersion-type program may result in – both for the individual student and for the class they’re requesting a return to. We are pulling together a team of immersion specialists to consider creating a process that might, on a case-by-case basis, enable students to return to the program in September of 2021.Again, we can not guarantee any return into a program of choice. But we want you to know that, where possible and appropriate, we are looking for ways to help all of our families return to our schools when they’re ready, and when we have capacity to do so.
  • Each child may only apply for one program. Attempts to apply for multiple programs, for the same child, may result in both/all applications being removed from consideration.
  • As we simultaneously develop offerings and gauge interest, we acknowledge that spaces may be limited. If applications exceed total available spaces, a random draw will be used to fill spaces. Were possible, requests to keep siblings together will be considered.

Interested in applying?

OCTOBER 5th UPDATE: at this time, our Online Learning for K-8 program is at full capacity and we are not accepting new applications.

As we continue to process requests to transition students back to in-class instruction, new spaces may become available. If we are able to accommodate more students in our online program, we will open the registration process again. If your child has specific medical needs, supported by a doctor’s note, please contact your school principal to discuss options available.

To apply for Online Learning for 9-12, for either full or part-time options: