As the Calgary Board of Education does away with its Hub online learning model — introduced in response to the pandemic — recent survey results show the desire for an online learning option persists, and some families plan to stick with it full-time.
The CBE says it received 14,607 responses to the CBe-learn survey sent out last month, when it asked families to indicate whether they were planning to transfer their kids to CBe-learn next school year to learn online full-time.
Education director Michael Nelson said that’s 12 per cent of the CBE population who provided feedback.
“It gave us an indication that we have several hundred families that … would like to participate in the CBe-learn online experience,” he said.
“There are also several hundred individuals, over a thousand, who are saying they’re a maybe. So, we’ll see how that translates into the transfer process.”
Of those who responded, 87 per cent said they plan to learn in-person next school year, five per cent said they plan to transfer to CBe-learn full-time, seven per cent said they are still undecided, and one per cent said they were leaving the CBE.
The majority of those planning for their students to learn online, or who remain undecided, said it was because of concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Currently, about 14,000 students are registered in Hub online learning. Nelson said about 25 per cent of Hub families responded to the survey.
“We see a higher percentage of our Hub families that are considering moving [to CBe-learn].… There is a need and a desire for our families for online,” he said.
“We’re already working with our partners in human resources and finance to make sure that we can have teachers this spring be ready to teach in the fall in an online environment.”
Two of Johanne Scott’s children have been learning through the Hub model this school year.
“My Grade 5 student is excelling and my Grade 3 student is really, really struggling. There’s not a lot of guidance, and mom’s not the best teacher.”
Despite the mixed experience, Scott said she plans to continue online learning and transfer her kids to CBe-learn next school year.
“Even though I don’t necessarily feel like for my Grade 3 student that online learning is the best experience for her, I just think that it’s safer for them. She can catch up academically later on.”
But Scott said she’s unhappy to see CBE get rid of the Hub model so soon.
“We’re going to lose connection with our home school and that was the nice thing about having Hub, we were still connected with them. So it’s a little disheartening that we have to make another transition. This is hard enough as it is,” she said.
Nelson said the Hub model was built around the fundamental expectation that the majority of students would return to in-person learning.
“We kept students connected to their schools to make it as easy as possible for them to transition for this year, midyear, if they chose, or at the end of the year,” he said.
“They’ve always been able to have that commitment of their school. So we have been incredibly generous within the model and now we need to move on to the next phase.”
Scott said her decision is primarily guided by the current state of the pandemic, and if things change for the better, she hopes there are other options available.
“If everybody gets vaccinated and we’re at this 73 per cent immunity, I would like for my kids to be able to go back to a regular school. So that transition worries me,” she said. “Will we have to maintain [our choice] until June of 2022 or will my children be able to go back to their home school?”
The CBE is asking families interested in enrolling in CBe-learn for next school year to submit a transfer request by April 23. A letter was sent to families Thursday with those instructions.
There is also an assessment tool on the CBe-learn website to help families determine if online learning is for them.