(Black Press Media file photo)

LETTER: Greater Victoria school board chairs pen a message to families amid pandemic

Jordan Watters, Ravi Parmar, Timothy Dunford chair the three school districts in the region

Since the suspension of in-class instruction in all schools due to COVID-19 was announced, we understand families may be feeling some uncertainty around their child’s education.

Today, as the chairpersons representing the boards of education for the Greater Victoria (SD61), Sooke (SD62) and Saanich (SD63) school districts, we are writing to assure families that we are working hard to secure educational opportunities for more than 40,000 students. We have been collaborating with the Education Minister Rob Fleming to provide continuity of education for all of our students and prioritizing the services required to support children of essential workers and our vulnerable students who may need special assistance. Many of you have questions around remote learning, care for students, transitioning grades and a whole host of other important topics, and while we don’t have all the answers today, we are committed to finding them as quickly as possible to give you some certainty in this new reality.

We understand that each of you face unique challenges and that everyone – parents and guardians, students and soon to be graduates – have questions. We want you to know that we hear you, we stand with you, and we know that together, we’ll get through this.

READ ALSO: Parents not teachers, rather facilitators, says Victoria school board chair

To our parents and guardians: more than ever, we need your support. While school districts can’t recreate the full learning experience your children get in the classroom, we are committed to getting meaningful remote learning coordinated as soon as possible. Take this time to enjoy your families, find fun teachable moments, and talk to your children about how they are feeling as today’s stresses will likely weigh heavily on them. There are resources on our school district websites to help support those conversations.

To our students: we know some of you really miss school and the connections you have there. It’s important to keep in touch with your friends and family via text, email or phone calls; this will not only help you through tough times, but it will help them too. The world needs good citizens now more than ever, so remember to be patient, kind and helpful. Know that this isn’t forever, look out for one another and take care of yourselves. For those of you who miss learning, don’t worry, your teachers are hard at work getting set to teach you in completely new ways!

For our Grade 12 students: we know your anxieties are high right now. You’ve spent most of your life getting to this point and aren’t sure how these circumstances will affect your future education, or how your accomplishments will be celebrated with important rights of passage such as graduation. Just remember that all graduating students – here in B.C., Canada and around the world – are feeling the same way. You are not alone! All is not lost, we are finding a path that will work for you. We will celebrate your achievements.

In B.C., we are truly privileged to have our Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan, to help guide us through this crisis. Like many of you, we watch the daily updates and remain optimistic that our collective efforts are making a difference.

As chairpersons, we want to recognize all of our staff for their unwavering commitment: from our educators who are reaching out individually to families, to our facilities and custodial staff who are diligently ensuring our spaces are clean and safe, and our support, operations and board staffs for keeping our education system running. We are grateful for everyone’s hard work and dedication.

Your child’s safety and education is our priority and you can count on us to have them at the forefront of all our decision making. While we transition to remote learning, remember that learning happens everywhere, and our connections to others matter most. We are looking forward to welcoming students and staff back into our schools as soon as it is safe. Until then, in the words of Dr. Henry, “This is our time to be kind, to be calm, and to be safe.”

On behalf of the boards of education that we represent, we thank you for your continued support. Keep safe and stay well.

Board chairs Jordan Watters, School District 61, Ravi Parmar, School District 62 and

Timothy Dunford, School District 63

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