Message from the Director

Message from the Director
Posted on 11/12/2021

Dear Families, 

It is hard to believe there is only five weeks until the December break. It has been a busy school year so far with a return to more normal activities at school. With this return to more typical activities in our schools, and across the region and province, some challenges with respect to the management of COVID-19 have emerged in our communities. 

Over the past few weeks, we have seen a considerable increase in cases of COVID-19 in our schools. While most of the cases are among elementary students who are not currently eligible for vaccination, cases are also popping up among students’ family and social circles – siblings, parents, extended family and friends. As we have shared throughout the pandemic, our schools are a mirror of what is taking place in the community. KFL&A Public Health has been clear that most cases are being acquired outside of the school environment where perhaps some protocols have been relaxed. Naturally, these cases make their way into our schools resulting in class dismissals, isolation requirements, testing and often a move to remote or hybrid learning to ensure learning continues for students. In some cases, this has resulted in outbreaks at some of our schools putting significant strain on those school communities, and some families in particular.  This has been a stark reminder that this pandemic is not behind us.  I would like to thank all affected school staff, students and families for their patience, understanding and care to ensure student well-being.  I also want to acknowledge the hardships and challenges that face students, staff, and families when cases impact a community.  During these times, we have to support each other and do the best we can under very challenging circumstances.  A big thank you to KFL&A Public Health for directing the response to school cases and outbreaks. 

This brings me to how we can all continue to work together to limit further spread in our communities. As cases continue to spike in the region, KFL&A Public Health is urgently reminding everyone to take these key steps: 

  • Screen daily for symptoms of COVID-19. Public Health is now reviewing symptom screening and will be expanding the symptoms in the coming days. More information will be shared in the near future.  Please continue to screen each day. 
  • Stay home, isolate, and get tested if you have any symptoms of COVID-19. KFL&A COVID-19 assessment centres are offering a less invasive swab for children to help ease the testing experience.  
  • Limit indoor social gatherings. 
  • Stay two metres apart and wear a mask in indoor public spaces or any time physical distancing is not possible, including outside.  
  • Get fully vaccinated.

On a positive note, this fall saw the return of extracurricular activities in schools. To date thousands of students have had the opportunity to engage in school-based activities that were not possible during the first 18 months of the pandemic. Our thanks to everyone for their patience as we phased in a return to activities in a safe way. It has been exciting watching students return to sports and events they love, and that help provide a well-rounded school experience. The fall season is wrapping up and the winter season is fast approaching.  

Having visited several schools during these first couple of months of school, it is clear that by and large, students appreciate being back in school and learning and connecting with their peers.  School spirit days and community-minded endeavors like the Terry Fox Run and Socktober are all important and meaningful ways that students, staff and families are working together to move beyond the pandemic and back to some normalcy. This fall we also released the board’s new three-year Mental Health and Substance Use Strategy, and next week, students in Grades 4 to 12 will be invited to participate in a school climate survey to gather data that supports creating a positive school environments. 

November is Indigenous Education month in Limestone.  This is a time to celebrate Indigenous cultures, languages, perspectives, histories, and contemporary experiences on this land.  Schools are engaging in a wide range of learning and activities putting a focus on ensuring greater understanding of the importance of Truth and Reconciliation; the legacy of Residential Schools; the importance and value of Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, and being; and information about Treaties on the lands where we live, among other learning.   

Finally, today was Remembrance Day. As home to CFB Kingston, our region and our school board is a proud supporter of our military members and families. Schools held a variety of ceremonies and events to commemorate veterans and acknowledge their supreme sacrifice as well as recognize those who continue to serve. I encourage everyone to take a moment to reflect and be grateful for the past service, and continued service, of many members of the community.  

As always, thank you for your support of our important work.  The pandemic continues to have an impact, and we must continue to be vigilant in limiting its reach, and minimize the impact on school so students can continue to learn, and benefit from what schools provide for their well-being. 

Krishna Burra 
Director of Education