June 2020: A(nother) Note From Tony

Hello Prairie South Friends, 

It’s the last day of the weirdest year of all of our careers, and I’d be lying if I said I’m not looking forward to July!  I hope you are too – whether you have the summer off or are working, the hectic schedule of the school year can be left behind, and each of us deserves some time at a slower pace!  Next year will be a whole new adventure, and the fresher we are moving into September, the better we will be able to manage whatever 2020-2021 brings. 

COVID-19 is the first thing I think of connected to the 2019-2020 school year, but the year wasn’t defined only by a global pandemic.  Each of us had significant events in our own lives that had nothing to do with Coronavirus and together we helped children and families to grow and thrive at school and in life.   Next year will be the same:  we will have lots of stresses and strains associated with working in a school division under a public health order, but most importantly we will have the opportunity to support students, parents and school communities as they manage their own challenges.  Over the past 16 weeks, I have watched with admiration the Prairie South staff rise to the occasion, and I know we’ll be okay next year too if we continue with the same resilience and sense of teamwork. 

We have identified several priorities that will guide our decisions in the fall and for the first time in my career, teaching and learning will not be the most important work of the school division.  Our first priority will be the safety of our students and staff, including sanitization and hygiene planning in schools.  Our second priority will be parent and family engagement, as there will be many things that are different about school in the fall and during the year, and we will need parents to be working as partners at a whole new level.  Once we have these things in hand, we will focus on teaching and learning, important elements of school that happen outside of the classroom and the day-to-day management of schools and the school division in that order.  While all of these things continue to be important, the hierarchy of these priorities will help everyone understand why we are doing what we are doing.  I’m committed to working very hard to communicate about this with you, our parents and the general public. 

It has been difficult work for principals and school staff to support the graduating class of 2020, all of whom have had graduation plans interrupted this year.  Thank you for the work you have done to support these kids and their families.  I’m also really aware that we have several long-time Prairie South staff members who have not had the retirement celebrations that they deserve because of the pandemic.  On behalf of everyone at Prairie South, thank you for your service; best wishes for a long, happy and prosperous retirement.  Please stay in touch with friends and colleagues and let us know how you’re doing! 

Have a wonderful Canada Day and a peaceful July – see you soon, 

Tony

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