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January provincial assessments cancelled for Grade 10 and 12 students due to staff shortages

Post-secondary admissions will be not affected by the cancellations, the Education Ministry said, and those not planning on early graduation will be able to take their assessments in April or June.
Belmont Secondary school principal Jim Lamond during a tour of the school in September 2020. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

B.C. is cancelling provincial assessments scheduled for January for Grades 10 and 12 because of staff shortages.

“We understand that this cancellation may cause uncertainty for students, parents and school staff,” the Education Ministry said in a Friday statement.

“We want to assure everyone that all Grade 12 students will graduate on time, both for early graduation and June graduation, as long as all other graduation requirements are met.”

The ministry has worked with post-secondary institutions to ensure that post-secondary admissions will be not affected by the cancellation, it said. The ministry will give an assessment exemption to Grade 12 students affected by this move, specifically for those graduating early in the 2021-22 school year.

Assessments are similar to exams but that wording is no longer used by the province.

Those not planning on early graduation will be assessed in the future, the ministry said. Later assessments are currently scheduled for April and June.

“Over the past few months, the administration of Grade 10 to 12 provincial assessments has been impacted significantly by work force capacity issues related to COVID-19,” it said.

A B.C. Teacher’s Federation spokesperson was not immediately available to comment.

Sooke School District chairperson Ravi Parmar said, “I think it is unfortunate but not too surprising.”

As with all school districts, Sooke is facing staff shortages, he said, noting that on Friday a record 120 teachers, out of 700 to 800, were off because of illness.

Although the decision adds to pressures for graduating students, “Grade 12 students and their parents should not be concerned whether they are on track or not for graduation because we stand committed, as does the ministry, for that,” he said. Post-secondary schools locally and internationally are “very understanding of the circumstances of these sorts of things.”

Michael MacEwan, president of the Saanich Teachers’ Association, said some teachers are concerned with the short notice provided for the assessment cancellation, which they learned about on Thursday.

He also heard from teachers who are disappointed that students will not be able to write their assessments, especially students who have been studying for them.