From the Principal's Desk:
As we all know the school days of 2020-2021 are drawing a close and what a year it has been. Each week during the school year, I prepare a memo for the Staff that we call the WAAG (Week at a Glance) and in the memo I thank individuals, I outline what is in the plans for the current week and then outline what lies ahead.
So I thought I would use that format for this final message of 2020-2021:
Thank you to our Pastors: Father Casmir who has been uniquely called to service our parish and school. Under his guidance, the Holy Spirit is leading us toward new horizons. We have really missed being able to attend Mass as a School Community this year and we hope that we will once again be able as a whole school community in 2021-2022.
Thank you to our volunteers: In a “usual" year, you were able to come into the school to work with students (e.g., reading programs), share your skills and/or knowledge but that was not possible this year but you found creative ways to volunteer your time (e.g., making modelling clay for the classrooms or preparing presentations for our students that you presented virtually). You have the given the precious gift of their time to help and we are so grateful for that gift. We hope to be able to have you return in 2021-2022.
To All of The Parents for your kindness, co-operation and continued support. It has been very strange not being able to have you into the school at all and we certainly missed the special events (e.g., the Christmas Concert and/or Graduations). We have had to rely on the use of notes, phone calls and in some cases Teams Meetings instead of face to face meetings and we thank you for your patience with that “new way" of doing. We thank you for your understanding as we had to make changes how we delivered instruction from in person to online and back again.
To Our School Council Executive And Our School Council Members for your ongoing and unselfish commitment to our school and students and for your financial support through your fundraising efforts. While we were not able to go on field trips out of the school, School Council generously supported us with funding to attend “virtual field trips" as well as provided funding for extra equipment for use outside for the students to use in their yard “zones".
To The Community for your support of our fundraising efforts and for your interest in our students and school.
To Our Wonderful Staff for their dedication and commitment to the well-being and education of your children – our students. They touch the lives of our children with loving care and dedication every day. When the Staff came together in August of 2020, we did not know how a school year with COVID would work – we had to be creative and find new ways of doing things that are part of our usual routines. Thank you for everything!!!
To Our Students for your readiness and willingness to adapt to new routines – wearing of masks, playing in zones, remembering to sanitize, adaptations to classroom setup and learning how to learn online. You amazed us (the Staff) at how resilient you were and you also showed us that you wanted to be here with your friends and that you could / would adapt to whatever was required. Well done!!
Monday, June 21st is National Indigenous Peoples Day. Throughout the course of the year the teachers have worked to raise awareness of the experiences of and the contributions of the Indigenous Peoples. During the year, we have participated in online presentations with some of the Elders and Knowledge Keepers who are working with ALCDSB. The teachers have also been discussing in a manner appropriate the age level of the children about the information that has come to light about the Residential School in Kamloops. The Board continues to provide us with information to present to the children during National Indigenous History Month. We will continue to work to honour the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Planning for 2021-2022: Each June, the staff comes together to discuss and start to plan for the class assignments for the next school year. We will be holding our initial meetings regarding placements on Monday and Tuesday of this week. The current teachers of the students usually meet with the teachers that the students are likely to have in the Fall and we formulate an initial “tentative" plan. The plans are tentative because a number of current students leave in June, and also because new students register in late August for September. Because families move during the summer months, we continue to juggle class groupings and class lists up to and including the first day of classes. Each year we encounter unexpected last minute changes.
Please know that when we are considering class placements we consider as gender balance, ability balance, class size, individual learning styles and peer dynamics. We usually try to include the student's preferences with respect who they would like as a teacher as well as what peer(s) they may like to have in their classes. We do our best to listen to the students' “voices" but we realize that sometimes you as parents would like to offer your voice as well. Should any parent wish to share information with us that would assist in our class list deliberations, please send a letter to my attention noting the pertinent information (e.g., specific learning needs, current assessments, learning style or preference). A lot of time and deliberation goes into our decision-making process but the underlying piece and our first priority is to ensure that we are fair to everyone. Any written requests from parents / guardians need to be received no later than Friday, June 25th.
Typically, by this point the year we know or have a fairly good idea who will be on staff but that is not the case this year. ALCDSB Human Resources will have to do some hiring in the summer months and the current “tentative" plan for teaching assignments may need to shift just as the class lists may (and likely will need to change). Until the vacant positions have been filled it is not possible to formulate a complete plan. We also recognize that this year we are making decisions based not only on the students that we had in the school during 2020-2021 (as I outlined above) but we are also about the placement of students who were part of the Remote School for the 2020-2021 (who in many cases we have not seen these students since March of 2020 when we first shifted to online learning). And, we are also planning for students who are returning to us from being Home Schooled. For all of these reasons, it is not possible to provide you with a list of teaching assignments nor class lists to anyone before the first day of classes. I fully realize that is not ideal but it is the reality of our situation. Thank you for your understanding.
Pick Up & Drop Off (June 23 & 24):
Last week I sent out communication about the Pick Up / Drop Off days. At a recent Administrative Meeting, we were reminded that we cannot have parents / students in the school. So the information that was shared previously has had to be amended. So please read these details carefully.
Remember Physical distancing
All attendees must maintain physical distancing of at least 2 metres from anyone that does not live in their household. We will set up pylons to assist you in maintaining the distancing.
Wearing of a Mask
While on school property all people (staff, parents, students) must wear a mask (non medical is permissible for individuals who are not school staff members).
Pick-Up of Student Belongings
Student Pick-up of Personal Belongings will be available beginning Wednesday, June 23rd (Please see schedule below)
Wednesday, June 23rd
12 PM – 2 PM
Thursday, June 24th
2 PM – 3 PM
2 PM – 4 PM
9 AM – 11 AM
3 PM – 4 PM
11 AM – 1 PM
Families with children who have different last names can pick up an option based on any of the children's last names
We will only release your child's belongings to a family member.
Please know that we fully realize that once devices are returned to the school then not all of our students would be able to participate in live sessions. Therefore, in recognition of the need for equitable access we will be offering asynchronous learning opportunities for all of our learners for the 23rd and 24th of June. These activities will be made available to you early in the week of June 21st.
PA Day (June 25th):
As you know a lot of our Staff have been working from home since April, but some of us have been present in the school to allow us access to reliable Internet. On Friday, June 25th the Staff (other than those who will be reporting to another school site on the PA Day) will come together to get the classrooms / school ready for the summer as well as engage in a Year End Staff Meeting (likely will be held outside due to restrictions to gathering). We will likely also be engaged in some professional development activities.
What Lies Ahead:
We learned, on June 14th, that four classrooms and the office of the Special Education Resource Teacher and the universal access washroom are all to undergo significant HVAC upgrades this summer. Additionally, the Main Office and Staff Room areas are to be painted. As a result all of the areas listed above must be completely emptied.This work is to begin the week of June 28th so the scope of what we usually pack up at the end of the year has changed significantly and the timelines are tight. We have been told that the work could potentially take much of the summer to accomplish.
Please know that the School Office will close on June 25th and we will reopen on August 25th. The school email will be monitored occasionally over the summer months but access to the school itself will be very limited in nature.
In closing, I wish you a restful summer. It is my sincere hope that you have a chance to come together with your families as we continue to see decline in COVID cases. Please remember that vaccinations are now available for children ages 12 to 17 and you will find information about clinics in your child's report card envelope should he/she be age appropriate. It is also my most sincere wish that we will be able to return to some of our regular ways of doing in the Fall but time will tell.
Lastly, I know that there is some talk / discussions in the community that I am retiring. So, to set the record straight, I am sharing with you that I will be back at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic School in September 2021.
Happy Summer Polar Bears!!! Take care of yourselves.
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