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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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December 7, 2020 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

December 07, 2020

This was the first full week of masking for all Horizon students PreK-12, and I have heard nothing but great things about how our students have adapted to this provincial requirement. Our staff, as always, have been so incredible explaining, preparing, and helping our students do what needs to be done to keep each other and our communities safe. I am so proud of our students, as always, and so proud and thankful for our Horizon staff.

On Monday, I called a meeting of my Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to discuss the guidelines we have established for students to be allowed to take “mask breaks” within the public health order that came into effect on November 27. We received clarification from the Ministry of Education that structured mask breaks are allowable within the public health order, and so my SLT in consultation with principals, came up with guidelines to help teachers determine how and when to grant student mask breaks throughout the day. I thank the SLT and our principals for their feedback that helped us clarify this direction.

On Monday afternoon, while I was dealing with another matter, Darrell Paproski and Katherine Oviatt joined a meeting between school officials and Medical Health Officers from Saskatoon Health Region to discuss the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That afternoon, I joined members of the League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS) executive for a Director’s prep meeting.

Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and I continued out Learning Improvement Plan (LIP) meetings in schools last week. I received feedback last week from a community member concerned about our visits to schools, and I greatly appreciate this feedback. Like other roles within our system, my work as Director of Education for Horizon often requires me to visit schools. I meet with administrators throughout the year to discuss and review the critical LIP documents developed by our school staff. These LIPs guide our work to achieve the goals Horizon’s Board has set out for our system, to support and help our students succeed. All Horizon staff in schools and other facilities follow the same strict protocols for health and safety while in their workplaces (physical distancing, hand hygiene, masking, etc.). While there are many aspects of our work that we can and do now conduct virtually, it is still necessary to conduct school meetings such as these in-person when it is deemed safe to do so within our protocols and Health guidelines. Last week, our LIP meetings took us to Lanigan Central High School, Lanigan Elementary School, LeRoy School, and Englefeld School on Tuesday; Wadena Elementary, Wadena Composite, Lakeside Colony School, and Quill Lake School on Wednesday; Wakaw School, Cudworth School, Bruno School, and Viscount Central on Thursday; and Archerwill School, Rose Valley School, Kelvington High School, and Robert Melrose Elementary on Friday.

Other meetings I took part in or led this past week included a meeting regarding Education Sector pandemic planning, updates on the Lanigan School project, a review of Saskatoon region COVID statistics, a MySchoolSask Strategic Leadership Team meeting, the provincial SaskMATH Working Group, meetings with Saskatchewan’s Board Chairs and Directors, and a provincial Corporate Services Team meeting.

I called a Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) meeting for first thing Friday morning. We had the chance to share important updates and engage in conversations with school principals and vice-principals regarding our new practices in schools and our ongoing work as a system to support our students, staff, and families. As we head into the final two weeks of school before our holiday break and the New Year, we also discussed ideas and practices for helping make this time of year special for our students in the absence of our traditional celebrations like Christmas parties or community Christmas concerts. Our staff has some great ideas in the works and I am so proud of their creativity to ensure this remains a special time for students in our schools.

I want to share a reminder that you can make a personal donation to Horizon’s Christmas Hamper Project through either a payroll deduction over one pay period or multiple pay periods (contact Corinne Thoms at corinne.thoms@horizonsd.ca) or by donating in whatever manner you choose by connecting with my office and Marni Sogge at marni.sogge@horizonsd.ca. Every bit helps in this important, worthwhile cause to spread holiday cheer to families in need across our system.

Have a great week and stay safe, Horizon.

- Kevin

Kevin C. Garinger  B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205