The Prairie South School Division is having a great start to the 2022-23 school year as they have seen an increase in student admissions from last year.
Ryan Boughen, the school division’s Director of Education says that leading into last week they were up 52 students than what was projected.
“We’re in a good place,” says Boughen. “The previous year we were up 185 students from what we projected, so it was a fairly significant increase last year. Part of the concern would be some of that increase would go away, so we’re really happy that it didn’t go away and we’re up a little more.”
Boughen explained that the bulk of the increase was seen across the division's high schools, which could be contributed to bigger junior high school class sizes entering grade nine.
“Across our three city high schools and not as many at the Assiniboia Composite High School they’re pretty much flat. Elsewhere they’re up a little bit here and down a little bit there. Overall, the population is fairly consistent from what it was last year with the exception that we had some jumps in our high schools for sure.”
Another possible reason for student enrollment being up is that for the first time in two years, kids have been able to return to a full-time in-class learning environment.
Boughen showed his excitement for students returning to school and being able to reconnect with fellow classmates and teachers again.
“I’m super excited. Last year was my first year and I spent a lot of my year dealing with COVID-19 as everyone did. This is kind of lap two but sort of a first year all over again. It’s nice to experience more of a normal beginning.”
Over the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic forced students to trade in their textbooks for a laptop and learn virtually. At the height of COVID, PSSD came up with a solution to make sure that the student's education was their first priority across all grades.
“The board asked us to expand our virtual school. We had a virtual school that was operating from grades 10-12. The board was concerned that we were going to have some students who wouldn’t be able to attend because of COVID or other reasons. We expanded our virtual school, and so we were running our virtual school from grades 1 through 12.”
This allowed students that couldn’t attend class face-to-face, a way to still be provided with their education through their virtual school.
Boughen adds that the virtual school is still in operation but doesn’t have the same population now that it did last year.
“It’s nice to have students back in school connecting with staff, and their peers and learning face-to-face.”
Now that COVID-19 is somewhat behind us, Boughen adds that the first month of school attendance is good, but the school division is dealing with a new set of challenges.
“There are other things going on in terms of student sickness. Students are having sinus and throat infections and other things that aren’t COVID related. It’s a little more of a typical school year where we’ve had some more normal challenges.”