Nanaimo school has caged outdoor classroom until portable arrives

Nanaimo school has caged outdoor classroom until portable arrives
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WATCH: A Nanaimo mother is taking issue with a part-time classroom that’s being used at an overcrowded elementary school. It’s outside, under a covered area and caged. The school is calling it an adventure. Kendall Hanson reports.

Students come to Nanaimo’s Departure Bay Elementary to take part in the school’s special environmental program but some are getting more outdoor time than they bargained for after a temporary classroom opened this week.

The school calls it Dolphin’s Cove but some parents say despite its name, kids don’t belong in it.

“The majority of the reaction has been absolute shock asking if this is either a jail classroom or a classroom from a third world country,” said Shirley Galbraith, a mother of a grade six student.

Galbraith’s 11-year-old son’s class will sometimes be using the caged classroom until a portable arrives later this term.

“It makes learning in an environment with possibly hearing road noise, birds and dealing with being cold extremely challenging and at this point the school has not mentioned any plans to help those children who struggle,” said Galbraith.

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools said a temporary outdoor classroom fits into Departure Bay’s environmental program and that the school, like others in Nanaimo, had more students enrol this year compared to last year.

“Above projections and really it’s us reacting in as timely a manner as we can to support families to be in their catchment area,” said Tim Davie, deputy superintendent for Nanaimo-Ladysmith School District. “We are seeing enrolment up throughout the district so this is not just a Departure Bay issue.”

Davie calls the growth positive and said a number of schools are having to add an extra classroom.

“We have other instances where we’re accommodating within the school and repurposing spaces within the school to accommodate a new division to come in,” said Davie. “We also have situations like we have with Departure Bay Eco-School where we’re having to add a portable onsite to accommodate the growth.”

Galbraith says she’s talked to school officials about the learning conditions her son and his classmates now face but she says she hasn’t received an acceptable response.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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