School communities have been finding ways to make the school year special and engaging for students, all while keeping health and safety the top priority.
Extra cleaning, sanitizing and safety protocols are in place. The District has added additional time for custodians and hired 41 more people to help clean high touch areas. Students returning to class in schools began the first week with a health and safety orientation, and posters were placed throughout schools to remind students what they can do to help keep themselves and their school community healthy and safe.
Not everything looked and felt different. As in previous years, leadership students phoned Grade 8s to welcome them to high school in advance of the first day. Families, students and school staff reconnected. Schools enthusiastically welcomed everyone back. And students continued to share their excitement and messages of positivity.
Board Chair Gary Wong:
The start of this school year has shown us that what is demanding can also be inspiring. And it is energizing to know that while the situation remains fluid, much also remains unchanged: students will continue to learn and grow, children will continue to laugh and play, and our community will continue to face each new day as we always have, together.”
While protocols are district-wide, schools are adding their own creative touches specific to supporting their school community. Students from Taylor Park Elementary proudly show off their new coloured bracelets. Every student was given one, which is inscribed with the school values: Taylor Park, Kind, Calm, Safe, Friendly. The colour helps students easily identify who is in their learning group and is particularly helpful for younger grades.
For many, the beginning of the school year brings a sense of excitement, while others feel anxious. Chair Wong acknowledges that people have a variety of feelings.
“These are unusual times and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Please know that our schools are here to support you and your children.”
Both the Board and Superintendent have expressed their appreciation of all staff and partners for their incredible efforts in this ever-changing fluid situation.
Superintendent Gina Niccoli-Moen:
While this isn’t the school year any one of us imagined, I’m grateful for the leadership and efforts of so many. Deepest thanks to all school and district staff for your tireless work. I would also like to extend sincere appreciation to our partners for their insight and support.”
Partnerships in the District directly benefit students and strengthen us. The Return to School Plans reflected, to the extent possible, the valuable input shared in June in the survey by families, students and staff.
Our partners are providing ongoing consultations, including: the District Parent Advisory Council, Burnaby Teachers’ Association, CUPE Local 379, Burnaby Principals’ and Vice-Principals’ Association, as well as local Indigenous Elders and leaders who have provided guidance and wisdom.
The District was honoured to begin the first full day of in-class instruction with a video message from local Indigenous elders. Elder Roberta Price and Elder Latash Nahanee gifted the welcome to all students, staff and families. In it, they share greetings as well as teachings – advising us to be compassionate to each other and have optimism about our future going forward together.
Watch it here.
Posted September 2020