As I am sure we can all agree, the beginning of 2022 has given us a strange and stressful week. The team at Matthews Hall was very optimistic about a return to in-person learning following the holidays and enthusiastically welcomed the students back on Monday, January 3rd. However, following the Government’s late-breaking announcement about a delayed return, we have had no choice but to revert to a remote model ourselves (…even though, as a school, we are very well-ventilated with effective procedures in place and PPE that is available and plentiful!). We’ve been here before and we will adapt and overcome again. The current state of our local and provincial vaccination program will surely eventually help “calm the COVID waters”.
Understandably, a few of our plans for winter programming will require adjustment until we know exactly what we may be dealing with. Upon a return to in-person classes, we can expect plans for skating, skiing, ensemble music, athletics, and cohort management to be impacted for a while. We know how much your children need to learn in-person with other children and their teachers. We understand not only the learning benefits, but the social-emotional ones (which, in some cases, may even be more important long-term). In the meantime, we will continue to keep students connected, optimistic, learning, and forward-looking. And hope for a speedy return to “school as usual” in the not-too-distant future.
In other news, the next phase of our campus improvement is progressing well. As the term ended in December, you will have noticed the construction fencing and activity along our Oxford Street side. Over the holidays, significant interior work was begun on our new and improved Early Primary Learning Centre. This renovation and design renewal will mean that next year’s kindergarten children and teachers will have beautiful new, spacious and modern facilities in which to begin their school days at Matthews Hall! This phase of our campus master plan has been carefully designed to allow maximum programming flexibility and development, including plans for the introduction of a licensed preschool! (…more on that as we move through the winter and into spring).
To me, our commitment to ongoing school improvement and long-term development of strategy are very necessary signs that, in spite of COVID setbacks, life must go on! We owe it to our children, ourselves, and the future. We are all learning that living with a viral pandemic is not going to be optional. It isn’t the first and it won’t be the last. And, perhaps, the test is just that: a test to see how effectively we adapt and remain focused on the things that matter and stand the test of time.
Clearly, it continues to be a challenging time for everyone. No one is denying that. But, I think we can all agree – it simply cannot go on forever. In fact, we are seeing signs that the wave may just be about to break upon the shore.
The thing about waves is….when one breaks, another one is on the way. Not sure when. Not sure how. Not sure with what challenges. But, another will come. In the meantime, we must continue to work together to make sure the youngest members of our families and society have the skills, insights, and experiences to support them as they (in the words of Kate Matthews) “face life bravely and with joy no matter what life brings!” In our own small way, we believe we are doing just that with your help.
Please continue to let your child’s teacher know if there’s something that’s not working for you during this phase of learning and we will try our best to address it.
Looking forward to seeing you all – very soon!
Ric Anderson, Head of School