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Canada K-12 anticipating returns in fall

After a tough school year due to the pandemic, Canada’s international K-12 programs are expecting to bounce back this fall, the Canadian Association of Public Schools – International has indicated.

CAPS-I is comprised of 128 publicly-funded school districts/boards across Canada. Photo: Unsplash

Students who applied for a study permit by May 15 will receive a decision by August 6

“The outlook for September is very positive,” said Bonnie McKie, executive director of CAPS-I.

“Some programs are already full, while the majority still have space and some have extended their application deadlines. We’re getting significant interest from Europe, while there have been some declines in Asia.”

Student numbers were down about 44% in the past school year. While normally the nation’s K-12 programs would have almost 36,000 students, only about 20,000 came to Canada in 2020-21.

Short term programs usually attract about 6,000 attendees – these were pretty much wiped out due to quarantine restrictions.

This is compared to a 2% decline in higher education international students that Universities Canada has said its members witnessed during the health crisis.

“We’re getting significant interest from Europe, while there have been some declines in Asia”

For this fall, international K-12 education programs are benefitting from a double cohort. Students who deferred last year are eager to come in September, in addition to a new group of registrants is applying. In addition, with Australia and New Zealand still being closed, more students are looking to Canada.

However, there are bumps in the road. The Nova Scotia government is prohibiting new international students from enrolling in public schools in the fall, resulting in about 1,000 youths being displaced. School districts in other provinces have stepped up with offers, but if a student has already been approved for a study permit, they need to apply for a new one in order to change schools.

The federal government announced recently that students who applied for a study permit by May 15 will receive a decision by August 6, which would give them enough time to make arrangements to arrive in September.

The visa application centre in Mexico City has recently reopened, allowing students to access limited services.

Some school districts are expecting to have limited capacity due to a shortage of homestays. “I think there’s still some hesitancy about hosting under the current circumstances,” McKie explained.

In addition, some hosts are feeling burnt out because students stayed over the summer break rather than returning home due to the risk of not being allowed back into Canada.

Earlier this month, CAPS-I held a virtual conference that saw a record 500 attendees, where the association presented 70 online sessions. The group is hoping to meet again in person in Halifax in 2022.

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