Just three Syrian refugee students have so far registered in Surrey schools.
That number, however, is expected to jump in the coming weeks.
In an update to Surrey school trustees on Thursday (Jan. 14), school Supt. Jordan Tinney said as of last week, 411 government-assisted refugees had arrived in B.C., while 78 are expected shortly. An additional 2,000 or so are anticipated to arrive by the end of February, followed by another smaller group in March and April.
“Currently in temporary housing, these new refugees will be moving to permanent locations throughout the Metro region,” Tinney said, adding Surrey, Vancouver, Coquitlam and Burnaby school districts will likely receive the vast majority of the refugees.
While it was initially estimated more than 500 students might come to Surrey schools, the district is now anticipating between 300 and 350 school-aged children, whose needs will be assessed at the Welcome Centre before they are sent to their neighbourhood schools.
As reported by The Leader, there remains a degree of uncertainty whether federal funding will arrive in time to keep the Welcome Centre – which helps newcomers with settlement issues, such as schooling – staffed and functioning for another year.
There is also some concern about the February deadline to submit enrolment information to the province, which determines resources allocated to school districts to support students. If refugees arrive outside that timeline, the district wants to ensure the resources will still be made available by the Ministry of Education.
Tinney said early analysis of the already landed refugees indicate 60 per cent are under age 18.
In the neighbouring Delta School District, six Syrian refugees have registered so far, and that’s all that’s expected.