Student learning remotely during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo Credits Daniel Foster)

On a September 9th board meeting for the Limestone District School Board (LDSB), Director of Education Krishna Burra announced that online learning would be available for international students who are unable to travel to Canada.

“LDSB will be providing online learning through the LDSB Virtual School for international students to start the school year. This will allow for international students to travel to Canada when travel restrictions have lifted, and quarantine for 14 days without negatively impacting their educational programming,” The board said in a report.

Each year, the school board hosts between 100 and 130 International students. Due to covid-19 and the ensuing border closures, this number has been cut by almost half. The board plans to host 120 international students starting in September 2021.

Working with KFL&A public health and Ontario Public Health, the board plans to gradually re-introduce international students as border restrictions are lifted.

According to their website, the board hosts students through a homestay program from a variety of countries. “We host students from over 18 different countries around the world including Spain, Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Germany, China, Vietnam, Italy, France, Croatia, Turkey, India, Thailand, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Russia and the Netherlands,” The website says. The program runs through a homestay program, operated by staff who work with the school board, who communicate with homestay programs.

The school board was also required to vote on a statement that expressed their interest in re-introducing international students. The motion reads:

The Limestone District School Board confirms our desire to admit new international students when this becomes possible. In addition, the Limestone District School Board affirms our compliance with the Public Health Institutional Readiness Requirements for admitting new International Education students for face-to-face learning in Limestone schools, and the Board confirms the Limestone International Education program meets current federal and provincial requirements for the 2020-2021 school year, and will adjust as necessary if requirements change.

The motion was passed on the September 9th meeting.