A New School Year

Tomorrow is the day after labour day.  It feels very different than normal this year.  We’ve already had the “first day,” we’ve tried on the new sets of rules and procedures.  It doesn’t feel the same, and it might be hitting home that “the new normal” really doesn’t feel normal at all.

I wanted to make the space to say again, that if things don’t feel normal yet, it’s because they aren’t normal yet.  We’re all still working on figuring out how to return to school in the middle of a global pandemic.  And it’s a little bit of a bumpy ride.

What I can say with absolute certainty is that the staff at EPSB are continuously amazing me with their dedication and care.  I’m astonished that EPSB has been able to roll out a distance learning option for almost 30% of our students. I know that there have been some delays but I’m amazed at the amount of hard work put in to making this system work for families.  I’m also witnessing the work of teachers and school staff who have been figuring out a brand new way of doing things in person, a way to help keep students safe and help them feel safe too.

All of it involves worry and excitement and a whole lot of other emotions, probably more than there are even words for. The one filling my heart right now is gratitude. I’m so grateful as a parent and a Trustee for the staff at EPSB.

The Board of Trustees has also been working hard to advocate for the needs of our students and staff. In early August we highlighted the needs of our large, growing school division and advocated for the dedicated funding needed to reduce class sizes and increase physical distancing.  We continue to communicate our needs and advocate for this funding.  I’m thrilled that we’ll be receiving an additional $37 Million in funding from the federal government some time this month.  While this will not be enough to provide smaller class sizes for all classes in our division, we will put it to good use.  We’ve also written to Dr. Hinshaw with concerns about physical distancing, and requested a meeting to gain clarity on response times and protocols when cases of COVID are identified.

The work of our board continues with our first meeting tomorrow, where we are discussing a motion for school renaming and a report on the School Resource Officer Program.

As always, I would love to hear from you about your experiences of school re-opening, your needs, and your thoughts on the issues coming before our board.  I’d be happy to join you at a school council or community league meeting, or chat on the phone.  Please reach out to me any time!

I’m wishing you a warm welcome back.  While it may not feel normal just yet, I’m hoping you can feel the hard work, dedication and care of our community of students, staff and families.