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French immersion changes paused in Grand Bay-Westfield

By Brad Perry May 30, 2023 | 5:25 PM

There will be no changes to French immersion programming in Grand Bay-Westfield in September after all.

The Anglophone South School District says it has paused planned changes following community feedback.

“We are holding off the changes even though enrolment is low,” district spokesperson Jessica Hanlon said in an email Tuesday.

“We are looking for a way forward in helping the community have the program they want while being able to support the learning adequately.”

Earlier in May, the town was made aware of planned education changes which the mayor described as “very troubling.”

RELATED: French immersion changes spark frustration in Grand Bay-Westfield

Late French immersion students at River Valley Middle School were going to be sent to Barnhill Memorial School in Saint John.

Mayor Brittany Merrifield said some students would have had to travel 85 kilometres round-trip each day.

Changes would also have seen all early French immersion take place at Westfield School, beginning with Grade 1.

Merrifield said these decisions appear to have been made “in a vacuum” without any consultations with the community.

“We need to make it clear together as a community that our children at not numbers to be moved around an Excel spreadsheet until the totals look good,” she said during a council meeting on May 23.

While the mayor is relieved to see the planned changes put on hold for the 2023-24 school year, she said it is only a “temporary pause.”

“We do not have a permanent commitment for the retention of these programs in our schools,” Merrifield said in a statement to our newsroom.

The town said it will continue to advocate for a collaborative approach, including a review by the district, toward a sustainable model for the delivery of French immersion programming.


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