A Commitment to Learning
EIPS Board Chair Trina Boymook
We keep hearing we’re living in unprecedented times, that we have no experience to draw upon to guide us through this pandemic. To some degree, it’s true. But just because we don’t have the luxury of experience, it doesn’t mean we’re lost in the dark. Unprecedented doesn’t mean unmanageable. Students, families, and staff have all shown a tremendous amount of adaptability as we learn how to navigate our new rules and safety measures. I, for one, feel hopeful as we see everyone coming together to solve problems as they arise, working as partners to keep students safe, healthy, and engaged in their education.
During the school closure period in the spring, I heard time and time again that families were worried, not only about student academics and their physical health but about their mental health as well. Online learning was not engaging for all students, and, notably, the social aspect of coming to school was missing. Though this school year has not been an average one, and we’ve all made efforts to adjust our schedules as well as our expectations, the Division’s commitment to a safe reopening has been paying off. Students are engaged in meaningful work, they’re getting the social interaction they need and their mental health is benefiting as a result. This is important for our students, families, and communities as a whole.
All of us are still adjusting to what has been referred to as “the new normal.” We’re getting used to the idea of staying home if we have a sore throat or the sniffles. We’re becoming more mindful of those around us and how our own actions can impact the health and safety of others. And we’re finding new ways to connect and engage with one another that, while different, are no less meaningful.
It will require some fine-tuning to determine the safety practices that work best in each school and each situation, and our plans will continue to evolve accordingly throughout the pandemic. We have had some confirmed COVID-19 cases in our schools, and, with people moving their activities indoors because of the cold weather, we’ll likely see more in the months ahead. But thanks to the plans and processes in place, Elk Island Public Schools has been able to identify and respond to each case swiftly and appropriately, and we’ll continue to do so.
This school year is not a race to the finish line, but a practice in patience, co-operation, and understanding. We’re all on this journey together. Though we may not know what awaits us down the road, the co-operation I’ve seen so far gives me confidence we can meet any challenge ahead, however precedented or unprecedented it might be.