As we complete our first week “back to class” for 2021, I wish you all the best for the coming year. Unfortunately, we learned in late December that, in spite of our successful efforts during the first term, we are required to delay a return to in-person learning like all Ontario schools. Rats!
And here we are. We have just completed our first week of virtual learning and we are all still standing! I am sure it has had its “ups and downs” on the home front with technology glitches and adaptations; however, I have been encouraged by the feedback and engagement of our students and teachers during these less-than-ideal circumstances. Thank you all for your support and determination, as we continue this “year of firsts” together.
By now we all know that the temporary shutdown has been extended to at least January 25th. While this is not the news we wanted to hear, we have no choice but to abide by the orders from the Provincial Medical Officer of Health. We do so in the hopes that our students and teachers will be back together by the end of the month. We recognize the priority of public health and fully support doing our part to minimize the infection rate of an insidious virus. That said, we also recognize the importance of the health and wellness of our children who need their friends, teachers, and familiar surroundings in which to work, learn, and play. The decisions taken by those in authority are obviously not taken lightly. Together, we will do our part and continue learning from home, confident that this latest lockdown will not last forever.
As a school, it is essential that our teachers, families, administration, and board work together to preserve and advance our mission to prepare students for the time when this global crisis is behind us. It will require patience, understanding, hard work, and flexibility. As we can see by glancing at the world around us these days, each of these skills is important for inspiring healthy attitudes of civic responsibility and diplomacy in our children. So, while we are helping them to get organized at home with tech support and the occasional snack, let’s aim to look at this experience through the lens of opportunity and growth.
As a parent myself of four university students coping with the fatigue, stress, and isolation of on-line learning, I understand that things that begin as novel and do-able can quickly become tedious and draining. For children in general, there is also the concern of too much screen time with daily dependence on “logging on to learn”.
What can we do as parents to help? After all, in many cases, we ourselves are adapting our own work responsibilities to this latest setback, which for some has been ongoing for close to a year. There is no easy solution.
For children, connection with their friends, teachers, and classmates will be crucial. We will continue to refine and extend our synchronous learning program to ensure it is responsive to everyone’s needs. We will also make forays into our “virtual” co-curricular program this month, as we connect, protect, and inspire one another during, what we hope, is a short-lived separation.
And a last important thing – the children in our lives, little and big, need to know from the adults they trust that “everything will be fine” and that we, the grown-ups in their lives, are “fine, too!” Children are like stress barometers and can “pick up” on the smallest indications that things aren’t OK, which can add to their sense of stress and anxiety.
Let’s talk through any concerns with them, but let’s also ensure that the take-home message we send them is that “we’ve got this” and “together, we’ll all be just fine”.
And then let’s get through this and get back together as soon as possible!
We Must, We Can, We Will!
Ric Anderson, Head of School