Online Learning Policy – B.C. Residency (Interim and under review)

Date came into force or revised

July 1, 2021


Interim for the school year 2021/2022.

Policy statement

Boards of education may enrol students who are ordinarily resident in British Columbia in online learning schools or programs.  

Rationale or purpose of policy

Changes to the School Act regarding online learning came into effect on July 1, 2021. The 2021/2022 school year will be an interim year in the implementation of changes to online learning in the Province.  A new, comprehensive online learning policy and a procedures guide are under development with Indigenous rightsholders and stakeholders and will be fully implemented on July 1, 2022.  For the 2021/2022 school year, the former distributed learning policies have been replaced by interim online learning policies that will be in effect until the new online learning policies are implemented on July 1, 2022.

Online learning provides the opportunity for boards of education to provide an educational program to students who are not geographically located in the local school community. This policy sets out the specific requirements that must be met regarding residency for students in online learning programs. 


  • School Act (PDF), Section 168 (3) allows a board, with the approval of the Minister of Education, to enter into an agreement with an education authority outside British Columbia for the education of children for whom the outside authority is responsible.
  • School Act (PDF), Section 82 (1,2)  outlines educational program eligibility for those students who are ordinarily resident in British Columbia.

Policy in full

Portions of this policy are currently under review and subject to changes based on that review.

In this policy, the terms board of education or Board include a francophone education authority. This policy does not apply to International Students or Offshore Students.

Boards in British Columbia may enrol students located outside the province but ordinarily resident in British Columbia in online learning schools or programs.

The School Act (section 82) outlines the provision of educational programs for students who are ordinarily resident in the Province.  However, the Act does not outline procedures for students who are residing outside the province but in Canada.  If a Board wishes to offer online learning to students who are ordinarily resident in BC but living in another Canadian province or territory, the Board is required to establish its own residency policy consistent with the School Act, Ministry legislation and policy.

Under a Board's residency policy, a Board must not charge tuition fees to students who are temporarily out of the province, but who are ordinarily resident in British Columbia.  

Boards may not offer a course or an educational program through online learning to students not ordinarily resident in B.C. for the purpose of obtaining a B.C. Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood) or a certificate of graduation from the foreign jurisdiction.

Procedures related to policy

A Board must have a policy for determining “ordinarily resident” status.  The Eligibility of Students for Operating Grant Funding Policy provides guidance to Boards regarding ordinarily resident status.  In deeming a student “ordinarily resident” there is no specific time limit set by the Ministry, such as two years, but time may be a factor in the Board’s policy.

A Board may consider various kinds of evidence from the student, parent, or legal guardian, to determine if they are ordinarily resident in B.C. Reference to evidence used to establish residency should be kept in the school or student’s file and be readily available to enrolment auditors.