I hope that you and your loved ones are keeping well and healthy. The past few months have been full of change and uncertainty as we respond to the global pandemic and try to reduce the spread of COVID-19. As your Trustee, I know that the pandemic and school closures are challenging for everyone. We are all in this together.
Since the beginning of this crisis, I have continually advocated for the rapid introduction of distance education to support student well-being and provide continuation of learning for more than 127,000 students. A program that would meet each family’s unique needs and maintain a caring, safe and inclusive learning environment. To date over 20,000 pieces of technology were distributed to ensure that all of our students could access the learning opportunities available to them, and I will to continue to advocate that our resources and plans support all of our learners, including students with special education needs and English language learners.
More information about YRDSB’s Learning and Caring Plan as well as tips, resources and supports for students and families to support well-being and online learning can be found at www.yrdsb.ca/covid19.
We are all part of a larger community and I am inspired to see the many different ways schools, families and students maintained their connections with one another. It was also moving to see the many inspiring ways our school board, students, staff and families acknowledged our frontline workers and made contributions to the fight against COVID-19. As a school board, for example, we donated over 145,000 pieces of personal protective equipment, including gloves, masks and more.
Each and every one of us has made a difference – in staying home as much as possible and following public health guidelines. I know that this has meant making sacrifices.
To our graduating class of 2020, I know this is not the graduating year you had hoped for. I appreciate that the school closures will not affect your ability to graduate, however this unique situation and the need to postpone graduations has been disappointing. I remain tremendously proud of all of our graduates and look forward to celebrating this important milestone with you as soon as we are able to reschedule the graduation ceremonies.
In addition, I know that you have missed out on field trips, awards events, athletic banquets, spirit days, assemblies, our annual Celebrating Student Success awards and the many other ways we extend learning, connect as a community and celebrate the achievements of our students.
We have also been unable to gather together as we normally would in our schools and communities to celebrate or recognize important dates, including Sikh Heritage Month, Pesach, Good Friday, Easter (Western), Vaisakhi, Holy Friday, Orthodox Easter (Eastern), Ridvan, Jewish Heritage Month, Asian/South Asian Heritage Month, Ramadan, Pride, National Indigenous History Month, Italian Heritage Month and Portuguese Heritage Month. As a Board, these dates of significance are important for us to acknowledge and we will continue to celebrate and value the wealth of diversity in our community.
As the school year comes to a close, I want to wish you and your families a safe, healthy and happy summer. I look forward to a time when we can welcome your children back into our schools again. We know that families have questions about what the return to school will look like. We will continue to share information with you as it becomes available. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue following public health guidelines and to stay connected.
Trustee, Markham Ward 1/Vaughan Ward 5