Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Restart stats and additional funding among themes for First School District meeting for 2020-21 school year

Class was back in for School Board trustees this month, with the Board of Education for School District 52 hosting their first Board meeting for the 2020-21 school year last week.

The Board tackled a range of themes on the night, with Superintendent Andrew Samoil providing for his first public report since taking on his duties, relaying the background to the District and School Restart plans.

"Theses plans are 'living' documents, as they are regularly updated as more information is provided by the Ministry of Education and Public health officials." -- SD52 Superintendent Andrew Samoil

A key part of the plan for the 2020-21 school year is through the creation of 'cohorts' or 'learning groups' for all students. Cohorts allow students to continue learning with reduced exposure to other students and staff, and are identified by Public Health as a key aspect allowing a safe return to school.

The Board also noted that for families whose children are not returning for face to face instruction in schools there are two options available: home schooling and distributed learning. If a student is enrolled at as school but cannot attend school for medical reasons, the district will provide lessons and support for that student.

Superintendent of Schools Andrew Samoil delivered
his first update of the 2020-21 school year last week

When it comes to the review of the school opening period, Director of Instruction Sandy Pond reported to the Board that approximately 90% of students have returned to in-school classes as of September 15, 2020. The District is currently reaching out to the families of the remaining students to ask what their plans are when it comes to the education of their students. 

Ms Pond noted that the official enrolment for the year will be determined as of September 30th and should be made available for the Board at their October meeting. 

That number will provide a bit more certainty towards funding for the school year ahead. 

On the topic of Funding, the Board also reviewed the latest updates on the Districts share of the first half of Federal Funding for School reopening, with SD52 having been allocated just over $345,000, from that number the Board has determined that it will receive approximately $690,000 for the full year. 

At their September meeting the Board advised that District staff is preparing a plan for the use of this money, which will be brought to a future Board meeting.

How the Board makes use of that federal funding in the months ahead will be of much interest to the Prince Rupert District Teachers Union, as the school year began this month, the Teachers and their representatives had expressed a range of concerns over school safety measures and the preparations that SD52 had taken to launch the restart of the schools.

The first meeting of the year also provided an update on the 2019 Carbon Neutral Action Report, which notes that the actual results realized will be reflected in the 2020 report, in their notes the School District has reinforced its intention to continue to complete energy efficiency projects to reduce carbon production.

The Board also heard of how the School District navigated a range of challenges over the summer to deliver on its Summer Read and Play program.

Lori Burger, the District Truth and Reconciliation Administrator and Roberta Edzerza the District Principal took the Board members through the program of the summer, noting on the precautions required owing to COVID-19.

They also provided for a look at some of the activities beyond the reading potion of the program, which included kayaking at Kloiya Bay and a meeting with Russell Mather, the artist and carver of the Truth and Reconciliation Pole which has been commissioned for the Learning Commons at Charles Hays Secondary School.

Board Chair James Horne observed on the enjoyment that the students found from this years program.

“It is exciting and gratifying to hear how much the students and their parents enjoyed and appreciated this year’s program,” said Board Chair James Horne. “The Board extends their thanks to all of the staff who made this program possible for our students.”

Owing to COVID-19, the first Board meeting of the year was an online event, with interested parents, students and staff able to participate through a video connection.

The Board next meets on October 13th.

A wider overview of education in the Northwest is available here.

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