Enrolment continues to be stable in New Westminster schools – with a few shifts courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maryam Naser, the school district’s associate superintendent, updated the school board on district enrolment at its latest meeting Oct. 27, held virtually via Webex.
She noted enrolment in the district has remained generally stable compared to this time last year, with overall regular kindergarten-to-Grade 12 enrolment at 6,240.4, down from 6,253.8 at the same time last year.
Alternate education has gone up, from 87 last year to 96.4 this year, while the biggest jump has come in continuing education and the New West online program – where enrolment has risen from 154.7 to 211.9.
The online number includes 67 grades 9 to 12 students who are studying online, but not the kindergarten-to-Grade 8 students who have opted in to the district’s new K-8 online learning program this year. The 438 elementary and middle school students who are studying online are still reflected as being enrolled at their home schools.
The home learners program has also seen increased enrolment, from 116 last year to 139.6 this year – a number that includes 30 students newly enrolled this year.
“You can see a slight decline in the number of K-12 students, and then a fair increase in the online, and so really, on balance, we are up in the district in terms of overall enrolment,” Naser said. “It’s a similar theme to what you have heard before. We have some families that are choosing an online environment, and that is resulting in some changes, but generally speaking across the district we are fairly stable and slightly increased in our overall enrolment.”
Enrolment in New Westminster’s elementary and middle schools has gone up, from 4,488 to 4,523 – an increase entirely due to middle schools, Naser noted. All three middle schools have seen enrolment increases, with the biggest jump at Fraser River Middle School – which has 46 more students this year than last, bringing its population from 493 to 539.
New Westminster Secondary, meanwhile, has seen a drop of 48.4 students, from 1,765.8 to 1,717.4.
The largest enrolment drop, not surprisingly, comes on the international education front. Last year the district had 258 international students; this year, it has 114.