Summer school enrolment swelled as pandemic lingered, Calgary school officials say

Some Calgary school officials say the popularity of summer school for high school students is on the rise. 

Over the course of the pandemic, the Calgary Board of Education has seen enrolment in summer school increase by 14 per cent  from 6,500 students in 2020 to 7,500 in 2021.

CBE education director Mike Nelson says while the upward trend started before the pandemic in 2019, the disruption caused by COVID-19 and the temporary move to online-only delivery has also been a factor.

“If students were doing other things, it was easier to do it online because they didn’t have to go face-to-face. There was also that flexibility — more people were staying in town. So students felt that they had more time to do those courses,” he said.

Calgary Academy, a small private school, began offering summer school for the first time this year, but only for Grade 12 core courses — English Language Arts, Social Studies, Chemistry and Biology. 

The school was only expecting about 25 students, but about 80 registered. Principal Timothy Carlson says part of the appeal seems to have been the chance to focus on a single course at a time.

“There’s also the factor that folks just weren’t travelling this summer, so if they’re not going out of town very much then, hey why don’t we take a course and get it off the list to make Grade 12 a little bit easier,” he said.

Calgary Academy student Andy Sletto, who’s starting Grade 12 in September, says one of the reasons he took English 30 in July was that he wouldn’t be required to take the provincial exam at the end.

“Definitely a huge influence was that … we don’t have to write the diploma, which was a large factor for Grade 12 English for me, because personally I don’t do well in tests,” he said.

Diploma exams were cancelled by the province because of COVID-19, but they will again be mandatory in the upcoming school year.

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