60 middle school students in one Abbotsford classroom? It’s true, stunned parent is told

Parent says she was in disbelief when her son told her he was in a class with 60 other kids

Sixty children share the same classroom space in an Abbotsford middle school, The News has learned.

At Clayburn middle school, two Grade 8 classes share a single large room. A fabric divider can separate the two classrooms to allow the two teachers to operate separately, but it’s only closed occasionally.

The situation appears to toe the line of what is permissible under provincial back-to-school rules. Those rules permit learning groups up to 60 people, but guidelines and descriptions of learning groups haven’t said such large numbers of students would be sharing the same indoor space for extended periods of time.

Last week, several children at Clayburn middle school were moved to new classes. Such shuffles have happened at multiple schools as the Abbotsford School District seeks to maximize the number of students in each classroom in order to save money.

RELATED: Abbotsford parents upset as district gets cohort exemption to maximize class sizes at elementary school

One parent, who didn’t want her name used, told The News that her son came home upset about being moved to a class with too many other students in it.

When he told her there were 60 kids, the parent couldn’t believe it.

“I laughed and said ‘That’s insane, there’s no way they’d put 60 kids into a classroom,’” she told The News.

But when the mother of the boy contacted a staff member at the school, the staffer confirmed the 60-student figure and said the divider wasn’t currently in use and had effectively turned the combined space into a single large room. The parent was told that the divider would be used depending on the situation and the subjects being taught.

The parent said students sit shoulder-to-shoulder at tables; she said she had been led to believe more would be done to keep students separate. The parent also said she had tried to contact the school district multiple times about the situation, but has yet to receive a response.

It’s unclear if there are other double classrooms in the district, and if so, their number. The News has asked the Abbotsford school district whether the double classrooms have been cleared with health officials.

Public gatherings larger than 50 people are currently banned in B.C., but those limits don’t apply to schools. The province’s back-to-school guidelines permit larger “learning groups” of up to 60 students that allow for up to five dozen people in the same cohort to take part in the same activity. On its website, the government says it can allow for multiple classes to “join together for activities like physical education or music.” The website says that such learning groups allow for two classrooms located “adjactent” to each other to collaborate on shared projects or other activities. The examples of learning groups listed by the province, however, don’t envision such large numbers of children sharing the same indoor space for extended periods of time.

Multiple staff members are present in the room at the same time as the 60 students and the 60-person cap on the size of learning groups is supposed to include staff. but the province has provided the Abbotsford school district an exemption to allow it to increase its learning group (cohort) sizes to 66 at at least one other school. The News has asked if such an exemption has been granted for Clayburn middle.

This story will be updated with information from the school district or health officials, as it becomes available.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peggy Ardnt (left) and Ed Ardnt (right) present the symbolic first poppy to Harrison Hot Springs Mayor Leo Facio. This presentation is traditional across Canada to share awareness of the poppy campaign leading up to Remembrance Day on Nov. 11. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Agassiz Legion presents first symbolic poppies

Local dignitaries accepted the poppies, continuing a long-standing tradition

Left to right: Sardis Kiwanis Club President Bruce Oakley with nominator Peter Somers, Sovereign’s Medal recipient Brian Cleaver, nominator Derek Fryer and nominator Peter Brown. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack’s Brian Cleaver wins Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Cleaver is a long-time member of the Sardis Kiwanis Club and a strong advocate for Special Olympics

Former Chilliwack-Kent BC Liberal MLA Barry Penner, pictured here in 2016 when he was the outgoing chair of the ICBC board of directors, said the BC Liberals have a lot of work to recover from the Oct. 24, 2020 election defeat. (Black Press File)
BC VOTES 2020: Former Chilliwack-Kent MLA Barry Penner opines on BC Liberal future

‘There isn’t enough room on the political spectrum … for two free-enterprise parties’

New Chilliwack restaurant moving into supposedly haunted Nowell Street location

Many restaurants have come and gone, Twisted Thistle the most recent, at Nowell and Princess Ave

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stock photo
Pair’s lawsuit dismissed against Fraser Valley soccer association and churches

Judge in Abbotsford calls claims against 14 defendants ‘an abuse of the court’s process’

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Most Read