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Horizon School Division
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Our World - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education, March 23, 2020

March 24, 2020


I didn’t know what to call this opportunity to share with you but I knew this post wasn’t necessarily going to be about what is happening in Horizon. So I decided to call it “Our World”. As I see it, everything we do, everything we don’t do, and everything we can do but haven’t done yet impacts our entire world. I think the more we are aware of this, the sooner we can slow the spread of this pandemic and allow our incredible healthcare workers the opportunity to find us vaccines or to help us heal if and when some of us do get COVID-19. 

So I want to start this post by talking about the most important thing to discuss...our health. I hope each of you is maintaining your health and those of your families. As each of us who can continue to exercise strong social distancing practices, I’m becoming more and more aware of the best social distancing practice...

#JustStayHome.

I know not every one can do this. Our world needs people in our hospitals or in our clinics or even in our grocery stores. People continue to get sick or continue to need to purchase goods to survive. These needs don’t stop because of the virus. But the truth is, we should always exercise caution and care when we need to be around others. This isn’t easy of course. We have family and friends we want or need to see. I certainly appreciate that and recognize the importance of people in our lives. But perhaps it’s time to consider this through the means of FaceTime or Duo or some other form of face to face communication. Of course I leave that to each of you to decide. Again, the key, as our Chief Medical Health Officers have said, is that COVID-19 will spread. Our job is to control the spread. We need to lessen the burden on hospitals by ensuring that care can be provided. The best way to do this is to #JustStayHome. The second best, if you need to be out, is to practice social distancing, effective hand washing, and all other forms of etiquette in relation to coughing and sneezing. Please use the website I’ve shared a number of times at Saskatchewan.ca. It is a terrific tool for information and updates. You can also find all the memos and other important link that have been sent to families and staff as well as a link to Saskatchewan.ca from going to horizonsd.ca. After all, our communities will not be immune. The first case to hit one of our Division communities occurred over the weekend with a media-announced confirmed case in our largest Horizon community, Humboldt. It somehow becomes even more real when we start knowing people who have the virus. And so, let’s be safe by continuing to talk about and exercising these best practices with our families. Considering there is no rulebook written and the fact Saskatchewan is essentially building an airplane in the sky, I think there is a great deal that has been done right. I’m proud of our province for the direction they’ve taken and I’m proud of each of you for being at home and doing what you can to keep Our World safe. 

On the Education side, I want to take the opportunity to share a couple of updates. Our provincial meetings continued this morning. Every day last week, Board Chairs and Directors from across the province were meeting to discuss updates as they relate to provincial mandates and direction. Most of the information that was and is being shared has been taken to the Response Planning Team (RPT) for consideration. You have seen the memos that have come out including the most recent that accompanies this memo from me. The province has expanded the RPT and created two sub-committees to lead the work in both learning and corporate services. There will be a few directors on the committees as well as some of their staff and I have been fortunate to be named to the Corporate Services Committee along with Kyle McIntyre from Chinook (Swift Current and area) and members of SSBA, SASBO, and the Ministry. We had our first meeting later this morning and it was a very good discussion. I look forward to continuing to represent our Board of Education of Horizon and our staff and families in the dialogue and recommendations that will flow from our discussions. Our hope is that we can set direction for operationalizing business structures to ensure learning can continue in our systems. I will share more through RPT memos as the committees continue their work and the RPT continues theirs. 

Finally, I want to thank all of you who are submitting ideas for supplemental learning. As you are aware, students will get a grade and not a “standing granted” or “SG”. As such, they will pass but can improve their grade. As I said, a committee with a few other Directors and STF members as well as trustees and business officials are working on this mandate and we hope to have something more concrete in the near future. Be rest assured, we are likely to have some of our own autonomy in all of this so your ideas are important and valued. Keep them coming by emailing supplementallearning@horizonsd.ca. Your voice matters!

Please note that I’ll send these information bits out at least once per week and, depending on the need to get information to you quickly, likely more often. In all this, take care of yourselves and Our World, Horizon. As author Preston Norton put it, “It was in that moment that I realized something about human beings: We always care. Even when we don’t care, or don’t want to care, or we’ve been broken beyond the capability of caring...We always do. It’s our ultimate infallibility.”

#HorizonStrong

-Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed, M.A.Ed
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205
kevin.garinger@horizonsd.ca