The pandemic has presented many challenges for everyone in B.C’.s school system as it continues to face unprecedented times.
Education Week begins Monday, April 12, 2021, and the Ministry of Education wants to acknowledge that, in spite of stresses and anxiety around the pandemic, teachers, support staff, administrators and trustees have shown incredible dedication and compassion. It also recognizes that students and families are going above and beyond to support their school communities.
For more than a year, education staff, parents, students and partners have rallied to create a sense of normalcy for B.C.’s more than 600,000 students in kindergarten to Grade 12. From creating and adapting mental health programs and services during the pandemic, to leading the way with outdoor classrooms, education professionals and student leaders are making meaningful contributions.
In central B.C., the Cariboo-Chilcotin School Board has shown outstanding creativity and vision as it planned and built 20 unique, outdoor log classrooms for students to learn and grow. The new log classrooms will benefit not only students learning throughout the pandemic, but also in the future. Community trades workers also benefited from this project, as the board insisted on hiring local. Cariboo-Chilcotin teachers and teaching assistants are leading the way in B.C.’s outdoor learning programs. They’ve successfully adapted to new, dynamic learning environments and are finding students are engaged and excited to be learning outside.
In the Comox Valley School District, Tara Ryan, a counsellor and co-ordinator, knows first-hand how COVID-19 has affected the mental health of students. Ryan put together a fun “Spring Wellness Challenge” that encourages students and families to keep healthy and active by volunteering, playing games, visiting local beaches, playing sports, cooking and participating in many more exciting activities, with the opportunity to win fun prizes. Students in the Comox Valley have until April 30 to participate in the contest. The draw for prizes will take place on May 7 – Child and Youth Mental Health day. For more information about the challenge, visit: https://www.comoxvalleyschools.ca/spring-mental-wellness-challenge-2021/
The cleaning never stops for Sarah Marchand, a well-respected custodian at Cedar Elementary in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district. Marchand is a leader in her school district and has gone above and beyond in her efforts to tirelessly protect staff and students from the spread of viruses. She is known by her Cedar school community as an inspiring, proactive problem solver who shows efficient time management and positive thinking skills. Marchand also finds time to serve the school district as a trainer for new hires and is an active member of the school’s Health and Safety Committee. And even amidst all the busyness, she greets students and staff with warmth and a smile as she works around the school accompanied by her friend Cookie Monster.
North Vancouver’s Seycove Secondary Social Justice 12 students, Saege Bramley and Samantha Yuen, have learned how important mental heath and wellness is for their school community and beyond. Bramley and Yuen have recently restarted their school’s mental health club, distributed mental health posters and are currently helping encourage students to participate in activities like walking or yoga to benefit everyone’s mental health. The students also created a social justice action plan that allowed them to donate a large amount of personal protective equipment and supplies to a youth crisis centre in Vancouver, helping workers stay safe and healthy so they can continue to support Vancouver’s young people.
There are many more examples of education staff, students and families who are going above and beyond during these unprecedented times. To learn more about the stories above and to read other inspiring stories happening in school districts throughout B.C., visit the Ministry of Education’s Good News in Education web page: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/covid-19-safe-schools/good-news