Parents say last-minute CBE rejections forcing tough decisions

Woodman Junior High School in Haysboro is where Collin Highet's daughter is enrolled in the Late French Immersion program. Her Hub schooling application with CBE was denied Friday, forcing her parents to make a quick decision on whether to send their daughter to her alternative program school in-person amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A last-minute rejection from online learning made for a stressful back-to-school weekend for one Calgary family.

Collin Highet received an email and phone call from the Calgary Board of Education around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon informing him that his daughter’s application to enrol in Hub online learning had been denied. They were given until Monday morning to make the tough decision about how to proceed with the school year.

Highet’s daughter was enrolled in an alternative learning program at Woodman Junior High School for Late French Immersion. They were told that online classes could only be taken through her designate school.

“It’s a bit of a shock and a bit of a change of plans to get everything ready on such short notice,” Highet said. “It’s frustrating because there are reasons why we chose the alternative program for our daughter. But it’s also the fact that they pretty much gave us an ultimatum.

“They said online or Hub learning was an option, but if we were to continue on that route, she wouldn’t be able to continue her program.”

In a statement, the CBE said it was made clear to parents that low demand could mean that some alternative programs would only be offered in-person this year.

“We were transparent with the timelines of when families would receive confirmation notices and that some alternative programs may not be available due low enrolment and related challenges to reassign limited resources and maintain in person learning,” the school district said in a statement.

“Late entry French Immersion is an example of this. Students may access online Hub programming in English or access the alternative program for in-person learning.”

The CBE was unable to provide statistics on how many student applications for online learning had been denied.

For the Highet family, the choice to learn online was made due to worries surrounding COVID-19, but they were dismayed to have to choose between continuing with their education program and keeping their daughter home.

The Highet family reluctantly opted to send their daughter to in-person classes, a decision that forced them to also put their younger daughter in in-school learning.

“School was dismissed for in-person classes in the middle of March. It’s been five months and these plans seem not very well-thought out with not a lot of effort put into them, considering the timeframe they’ve had,” Highet said.

“They knew school was coming back but they all seemed not to take the initiative to plan and prepare for this.”

The CBE said it recognized that some families have had to make difficult decisions as a result of program offerings.

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