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District News

Community Update - April 5, 2020

By Sharlene Grandison | 06 Apr 2020

Hello Everyone

Congratulations to you all on getting the first week(s) behind you!  As I reflect on what is evolving around us, I am grateful for our health care system and all of our essential frontline workers who are working tirelessly to support us. I am also grateful for all the efforts each of you are making to begin to provide learning opportunities for our students. I continue to be grateful to our staff for their efforts, and to our families for their patience during these extraordinary times.

This week has been a very demanding learning curve for many as we repurpose our time and energy into providing a new way of learning for students. This required learning new safety protocols to operate inside the walls of a traditionally wide-open school setting, learning new virtual communication tools for staff and students, and learning and reviewing new distance learning tools. Many challenges presented themselves as we were all indifferent places in our learning, all had different levels of tech expertise and all had different abilities to access the new tools. We are despite these challenges making very positive progress.

In this coming week it is important we arrive at a place where our students can expect to receive learning opportunities in some form, virtually for those who can operate in this environment and physically for those who do not have the tools or the connectivity to receive it. This will require continued attention on safe practices to ensure we remain true to the purpose of this journey, a safe travel until the danger is passed.

Schools should now have most of the data from their surveys to determine the appropriate course of action for the families they serve. Families should expect we will do the best we can to provide meaningful learning opportunities in a way they can receive them and accomplish them. We are challenged with the access to technology and connectivity for many families and staff, but continue to look for ways to improve this dilemma, much is going on in the background.

Despite the challenges, the opportunity to build stronger relationships is the silver lining in this crisis. In the words of one educator:

“We know that as we work through this time of crisis, it will be the positive connections of reaching out to students, families, and community that will be the key to making the difference for ALL students.  When we look for opportunities for meaningful work, there is nothing more impactful than connecting with students to say “How are you doing?” and “What do you need?”  And each member of the school community, regardless of their role, can do this.  

Staff are finding creative ways to reach out to students.  We have heard stories such as a teacher car parade to lift student spirits, Foods teachers making videos on how to prepare a meal for the family that costs less than $5.00 and emailing the video to the students, art teachers sharing ideas for “Thank You Art”, and Industrial Education teachers providing handy tips for household repairs.   We need to ensure these good news ‘stories of practice’ are shared, so that the importance of education is understood by every citizen, not just those with children in school. “

(Acknowledgement to Barry Litun, Executive Director for the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS.)

I remind all of the following resources

        provide learning resources and supports for K-12 students while in-class instruction is suspended.

In the words of Edgar Guest

Somebody said it couldn’t be done

But he with a chuckle replied

Maybe it couldn’t but he would be one

Who wouldn’t sat so till he tried

So he buckled right in with a trace of a grin

On his face if he worried he hid it

And he started to sing as he tackled the thing

That couldn’t be done and he did it

We will find the solutions we need to provide service to students

Superintendent of Schools,
Joe Rhodes