Yesterday there were a series of news items about the possibility that the English Montreal School Board (EMSB) were planning to open “a full-time virtual school for English students” called the Quebec Virtual Academy (see Montreal school board to create virtual school for vulnerable students and Montreal school board launching new English school that is completely online).
CTV News were reporting:
The online learning model will be open to students with a “long-term medical condition” who can’t attend class for health reasons on the condition they provide a note from a health-care professional from the last three months.
The academy will also be open to some students who are in a Sports-études program and don’t have access to specific courses where they are studying. Students in rural areas who lack access to specific courses and where transportation to an alternative school is not an option will also be eligible.
While CBC News were reporting that:
Korakis said parents are worried that their children, who fall into the category of immunocompromised or of living with someone who is, could be suddenly going back to school despite the risk.
It’s not known which of those children will qualify for the EMSB’s virtual school. Cohen said that the ministry will decide who can enroll, though he said it should be available to English students across the province, from kindergarten through to Grade 11.
Either way, both outlets made it clear that this option was not being provide to make learning more flexible or to expand the availability of online learning in the province to students for whom it might be a suitable medium to learn. This was being done to provide a public health option for students who continued to be impacted by the pandemic.
Interesting, the CBC News article quoted a Quebec Ministry of Education statement that said, “From now on, it is only through the development and implementation of a pilot project authorized by the Ministry that educational institutions can offer distance education services as part of the general education of young people.” Readers will recall a discussion about those pilots that we published last month – see Quebec – Projet « Modes alternatifs d’enseignement »).
Even more interesting, the CTV News article referenced Mike Cohen, a spokesperson for the EMSB, as indicated that he “believes the program is a first in Quebec.” I guess hat would depend on what is claimed as the first… The first distance education program The first online learning program or virtual school? The first English language virtual school? The first full-time virtual school? To better understand, you should review the “History of K-12 E-Learning” of the Quebec profile for this project.