Vancouver News | Local Breaking | CTV News Vancouver
Education minister acknowledges 'vulnerability' if international enrolment drops
VANCOUVER -- Education Minister Rob Fleming says teaching positions continue to be in demand but acknowledges there could be "vulnerability" if international student enrolment drops.
Fleming addressed the issue in response to a question about whether the ministry anticipated any teacher layoffs if parents choose to continue to keep their children at home because of COVID-19. On Friday, he and Premier John Horgan announced students will have the option of returning to their classrooms part time starting June 1.
"We have a situation where we have enrolment growth domestically in B.C. that's quite a lot different than from 10 years ago," he said. "So teaching positions have been very much in demand. They will continue to be in demand, and we'll work with districts on the changes in terms of the contours of how they deliver things like international education programs."
In-classroom learning was suspended for most students after spring break to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. Officials maintain that returning to school will be voluntary and protocols will be in place to promote physical distancing.
Earlier this week, a memo was sent to teachers by the North Vancouver School District that said a number of factors, including the decreased enrolment of international students, had contributed to the "very likely need for teacher layoffs at the end of this year."
"We have very strong domestic enrolment growth. We know there's some vulnerability around international students and what…might be possible," said Fleming, adding that districts had been budgeting "prudently" in those situations. "Some of them are looking at a reduction but not an absolute collapse of international students, and I think that's a realistic way to proceed."
International education would continue, Fleming said, but admitted that there would be challenges for districts with these programs.
"We'll make sure that, where there are teachers that may be a surplus because international students are reduced, that they have opportunities to teach domestic kids that they have ample opportunity for reassignments," Fleming said.
The ministry hopes to have a better grasp on the situation by September as they will know how many teachers have chosen to retire and if there's been any enrolment growth.
"We may see students coming from other parts of Canada into B.C., as we have seen in past years, all those sorts of things are in play," he said.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Alyse Kotyk