With the close of the 2019-2020 school year, we wish to extend our best wishes to all for a safe and healthy summer break.
This school year has been like no other. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our daily and seasonal routines were substantial. We wish to acknowledge and thank you for your patience and willingness to adapt to the effects the pandemic had on the school year.
Although the pandemic caused great uncertainty and stress, there is much to celebrate about this school year. Most notably, the success of the Class of 2020, who will embark on a world forever changed. We believe the foundations they developed and the support of everyone they encountered in our school system, will serve them well in their ongoing journeys and endeavours.
When looking back at the school year, there are also many reasons to be thankful. We have the utmost of gratitude for the commitment of our school-based staff, who helped ensure students remained connected to their schools and engaged in their learning. Our teams worked hard to enable learning from home after the March break and then again to adapt to a hybrid of learning from home and at school. They provided child care services to children of essential services workers and ensured students who needed meals and technology received those vital supports. As families continually adjusted, so too did our staff. There is much we can and will learn from this experience; and we look forward to learning your perspectives through a feedback questionnaire that was recently shared by your school administrators. That information will help us plan for potential scenarios next school year.
During the past year we were impressed by the leadership of our students. Be that in their advocacy about climate change or at the District’s first Anti-Racism Youth Summit. These are just two of many examples throughout the school year of actions by students that showcase the importance and impact student voice has on our education system and world. The District continues to hire new staff to provide students with the support they need as well as to be able to offer the diverse programs like language choice programs, Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics (STEAM), coding and so much more.
At the Board level we continued to put in place important policies and action plans to tackle racism and make our schools safer and more welcoming for all; as we acknowledge the impacts of systemic racism on students who are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.
In addition, the Board affirmed articles of the UN Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples, began the process for a colonial audit, changed our policy so that new schools have place-based names and continue to work on a process for re-naming schools.
The District also welcomed funding announcements by the provincial government for several seismic projects, moving us closer to our shared goal of ensuring every student in Vancouver attends a seismically safe school. And, the Board began an important conversation with you about how to best use our schools through our Building for Modern Learning public engagement.
You have our commitment: over the summer, our teams will continue working to build a stronger school system with the well-being of students and their success at its heart. You also have our heartfelt wishes that the next two months bring you all joy, good health and safety.
Janet Fraser Suzanne Hoffman
Board Chair Superintendent of Schools