October 2020: A Note From Tony

Hello Prairie South Friends,

I hope this note finds you and your families well.  Although the year has been totally different from what we are used to, we are moving through it at a terrific rate, with 2 months of school in the books.  Thank you for everything you have done to ensure the safety and well-being of kids and families in Prairie South.

We continue to have good fortune related to COVID-19 in Prairie South.  Although we did have 2 cases in schools earlier this fall, our processes are working exactly as they should, and school has been able to proceed with fewer interruptions than many places in the province and across the country.  I meet weekly on the telephone with other Directors of Education and Dr. Shahab, and he seems pleased with the low number of people connected to schools around the province (students and staff) who have been sick.  He has shared that a provincial average of 60 cases a day over several days would be cause for concern, so I know that he will be anxious about the last few days, and I think we can expect that we will need to make some adjustments in at least some schools if the numbers continue to rise.  Currently we would describe our schools as being at Level 2, which is normal operations with additional precautions.  Level 3 would see some reduction in the amount of time spent at school by students, and I have asked Superintendents and school principals to ensure that we are ready to be more remote if we need to be.  My sense is that this would be at a community level rather than division-wide, but it will be important that we are ready to respond regardless of where we need to respond.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Grade 12 students and how they have been affected by COVID-19.  I feel particularly badly about the loss of many of the extra-curricular opportunities that kids and staff love to do at school.  I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some students and correspond with others, and I know that this has been really hard on some.  Please continue to provide the great support for these kids – we can’t bring back lost opportunities, but we can still let kids know that we care and that we understand how disappointing this is for many of them.

In addition to the regular “going to school with COVID” challenges, we have been busy at the office preparing for the School Board election on November 9th.  I am glad to see the number of people who are willing to allow their names to stand as potential school board trustees.  Two current trustees will be acclaimed and the other 8 positions on the Board will be filled from the 16 other candidates who are running for election.  I am looking forward to helping the new Board get started on their work in November.  In other election news, for those of you who work in a school that is hosting a polling station today, thank you.  I understand that there are a bunch of additional challenges that exist when we have a steady flow of people moving through the school and I appreciate your willingness to work with the Elections Saskatchewan staff to help the provincial election run as smoothly as possible.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be hiring a new Superintendent of Human Resources for Prairie South.  This is a mixed blessing for me; while change is always good, I am one of the many people who have benefited from Diana Welter’s kindness and sense of humour over the past 6 years, and the office won’t be the same without her.  Please join me in wishing Diana the very best as she starts a new role at Prairie Valley SD.

I hope you have a safe Halloween, and that the world doesn’t get too spooky for you!  See you soon,

Tony

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