April 7, 2020
By now, you will have heard from school administrators and teachers who are most eager to check-in and reconnect with you and your children post-Spring Break. I hope those initial conversations helped alleviate some of the uncertainty and apprehension you may have been feeling about how educational services will be delivered and how you and your children will continue to interact with your school community during the suspension of in-class instruction. This week, as your children begin to establish more regular contact with teachers, you will see a variety of educational opportunities become available.
Like many of our staff, I too am a parent to two children in our school district who are needing to adapt to this new way of learning. By experiencing this extraordinary time through them, I acknowledge how difficult it has been to be away from friends, teachers, and the school community. I also acknowledge how the idea of supporting your children’s learning may feel overwhelming. As a parent, you are learning new routines, while also having to balance and manage many demands on your time, including work, health, or family responsibilities.
Please know that:
- we as a school district understand that each family circumstance and its ability to engage in a new remote delivery of learning is unique. Rest assured that no child will lose marks over these next few months.
- children will have the opportunity to enhance their current academic standing and improve their current grade.
- our staff recognize that when we come back to regular operations and return to the classroom, it is with the understanding that we will meet our students where they are at and fill any gap in learning.
- staff at the North Vancouver School District are working extremely hard to ensure all children feel safe and supported.
We are committed to supporting you and your children during this new period of remote learning and recognize you will have questions. In addition to the communication and resources you will receive directly from classroom teachers and your school, we now have available on our website, an Educational Continuity Plan. There are four sub-sections – Elementary, Secondary, Complex & Vulnerable Learners, and Distributed Learning – and each shares the framework in which schools will provide educational continuity for students and their families. We have also prepared a COVID-19 webpage, which includes a curated listing of links to trusted and reliable sources of information, updates from the Ministry of Education, and copies of our correspondence with you – all in one convenient location.
As I mentioned in my previous communication to you, our school system is part of a much bigger solution during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to providing continuity of educational opportunities for our students, we are also striving to provide for our school community a “continuity of care”.
Two programs that we have now implemented include:
- Education/childcare services for Essential Service Workers. We had several staff who initially volunteered, and many who have now been temporarily re-assigned, to provide education/childcare services so the children of those on the front lines providing critical healthcare support to our community are cared for in a safe and caring manner. Under the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer’s pandemic response team, we have put procedures in place and have carefully structured the program so that our staff, and the children in their care, can experience a safe and healthy environment. In the coming weeks, we will look to expand this program to support other essential service workers deemed critical to preserving life, safety, and community.
- Food Access Program. We are re-organizing our Food Access program to ensure that members of our school community who may be struggling during this challenging time have access to food supports. I would like to acknowledge and thank Save-on-Foods, who in partnership with the school district, has allowed us to provide more resources for our community. By working with Save-on-Foods and re-allocating our Community Learning Includes Nutrition and Knowledge (CommunityLINK) funds, we are able to provide children and families with access to grocery gift cards, and in a way that respects and maintains the privacy and dignity of all families. If you require assistance, please contact your school Principal.
We continue to evaluate the capacity of our District to provide additional support to children and their families, and I will communicate any program changes and additions with you.
At this time, I would also like to ask for your support. The District has been hearing concerns from members of our community about students who continue to gather in large groups on our school and municipal grounds. While we continue to communicate the importance of staying at home and maintaining a safe physical distance, with the arrival of warmer spring weather, we ask that you also reinforce this messaging and speak to your children about why this is important. Our Facilities and Planning team has developed a Frequently Asked Questions document that addresses why our school grounds are temporarily closed and who to contact if you observe unsafe physical distancing practices on our school grounds. We appreciate your support as we work to maintain the health and safety of our students, staff, and school community.
Before I conclude, I would like to share some of the positive stories circulating throughout the community that involves our District. These examples capture the spirit of a community whose residents truly care for one another.
- A parent from the Sherwood Park Elementary school community has donated $500 in grocery gift cards to support families in need.
- Eastview Elementary “returned” from Spring Break to see that students had decorated the undercover area with messages of love and connection.
- In a gesture supported by their respective Parent Advisory Councils, eight of our schools have donated 2,000+ disposable masks and 1,000 gloves to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation.
- Numerous expressions of support for our District family have been shared on social media, using illustrations created by our Indigenous Education team and the hashtag #nvsdfamily.
I am proud of our staff, our students, their families, and the larger community, and am humbled by the outpouring of compassion and generosity shown these past few weeks. As we move forward together, the tolerance, patience, and mutual respect we have for each other will ensure that we continue to meet the needs of our school community.
Superintendent of Schools