Set to embark on a school year that will more closely resemble a prepandemic environment, there is no shortage of excitement among the educators at Mountain View School Division (MVSD).
“It’s such an air of positivity that’s out there amongst staff and amongst administrators,” MVSD superintendent, CEO Stephen Jaddock said. “I just met with our admin council group yesterday . . . we had lots of optimism surrounding the type of startup that we’ve got going this year.”
Students return to MVSD classrooms tomorrow (Sept. 7) and Jaddock said everything is in place to ensure a smooth start to the school year.
“We’re at more relaxed COVID-19 protocols. So we’re not under a mask mandate nor are we under any sort of distancing requirements,” Jaddock said. “So we’re hoping that it’s probably one of the most normal startups we’ve had in the last number of years.” Jaddock added their will be some health measures left in place such as opportunities for frequent hand washing, hand sanitizer placed strategically throughout schools and frequent cleaning of high touch surfaces.
As well, school staff will work closely with parents to ensure children who are displaying symptoms stay home. “The kind of things that we’ve had in place through the pandemic, some of those will not be disappearing,” Jaddock said. “And I think that extra vigilance on making sure that everyone was healthy at school had an effect on the overall numbers of colds and flus that we had. We saw a reduction in that.” Jaddock added the early part of the year will be used to evaluate where there might be a need for MVSD to invest some extra money received from the province to support needs surrounding post-pandemic academic needs. The division received a share of $11 million allocated by the province at the end of the last school year, as well as a yet-to-be-determined share of an additional $6.5 million announced last week.
“We’ve got some ideas as to how we might spend that and we shared that with our board of trustees. We’re just now waiting to see what happens when startup actually is occurring in all of our schools,” Jaddock said. The second allotment, Jaddock added, is more focused on students who left the public school system during the pandemic and are now returning and the need for additional staffing which might be required. Weight was also given to the social economic status of families based on Statistics Canada data. “What they were recognizing there is those families that had lower SES, had more struggles even when we were in the remote learning phase,” Jaddock said. “Maybe some of them didn’t even have the luxury of having a computer, or if they had a computer, they didn’t have internet access. I think this was more of an attempt to bring equity to the allotment that was going out to school divisions.”
A third factor in determining the allotment is considering children in care.
“Again recognizing that those children were more challenged to accomplish the learning goals that they’d want to accomplish in the last two-and-a-half-years,” Jaddock said. “Part of this, too, is to look at student well-being and mental health. It’s not a huge amount of money.
“I guess what we’d really like to do is just look at where we’ve got some hot spots and where we’ve got some additional challenges that we would like to address through that additional funding.”