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Horizon School Division
Creating a better world, one student at a time.
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March 8, 2021 - a message from Kevin C. Garinger, Director of Education

March 08, 2021

The Tim Hortons Brier got underway last week, and Horizon has a special connection to Team Sask this year, through our community in Wadena. You may have read that the Wadena Curling Club offered their ice time and support to Team Dunstone while they were training, since they were looking for a place to train and live leading up to the event. Well, this coming Wednesday (March 10), Wadena is encouraging everyone to wear green and show their support for the team. So I would like to take this opportunity to share that message and invite each of you to wear green and show our #SmallTownPride. Oh, and by the way…Kirk Muyres…Horizon graduate. Go, Team Sask!!

I spoke with Bolt FM and the Humboldt Journal to discuss Horizon’s new COVID-19 Access Screening Tool. The tool greatly simplifies information we were already gathering from guests and visitors to our schools, such as contact information and COVID symptom screening questions, by gathering the information electronically. When an individual books a visit to one of our schools, they can either complete the information in advance through email or scan the QR code on the door and fill in the short questionnaire using their phone. The information is then stored in a central database for 30 days, where it is easily accessible in the event of contact tracing. I want to thank our Information Services team, school staff, and guests for their work to help keep our schools and students safe. Although there is some light at the end of the tunnel, our world continues to be challenged by COVID-19. I am grateful that our students, staff, and families remain committed to the practices that have and will continue to keep us safe.

Last Monday, I met with Sandy Gessner, who is serving as Horizon’s Superintendent of Finance Services / Chief Financial Officer while Sarah Redding is on leave. Sandy and I discussed our contingency funding application. The application allows us the opportunity to access the provincial and federal COVID-19 contingency funds. I want to thank Sandy, Lori Washkowsky-Lucyk, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Services and our other staff who were involved in the preparation of the document.

Last Wednesday, I spoke with Deanna Kleiboer, who is an account executive from SaskTel, to discuss short- and long-term plans as a system, as they relate to the services provided by SaskTel. That afternoon, I joined our Board Chair, Jim Hack, and Vice Chair, Linda Mattock, for our agenda meeting to finalize discussion items ahead of our regular monthly Board meeting taking place this coming Wednesday.

On Thursday, I joined a virtual presentation by Kevin Cameron, executive director of the North American Centre for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR). Kevin is an expert in trauma response and a great partner of Horizon who has supported us through challenging times in the past. Following the presentation from Kevin, I joined a provincial Directors of Education meeting where discussions on provincial assessments was a big part of the dialogue. I also had an opportunity to join a meeting with our fellow school divisions and our partners in Public Health from Regina-Qu’Appelle Health Region. These ongoing conversations, information sharing, and updates are so critical as we continue to navigate the realities of education during a pandemic.

I finished the day on Thursday in a meeting with Justin Arendt and Kam Kiland regarding the Lanigan School project. These are exciting times in the project as, after contracting an architectural firm, we are entering our design process with an expectation to begin the construction a year from now. I spent time Friday in the three schools in Lanigan and Drake engaging students who will be part of the design team for the project. Two students from each school, along with an SCC member from each school and their principals will join trustee Mark Fedak, Justin, Kam, and me on the design team. Staff will also have the opportunity to engage with the architects at different points along the process. 4 meetings with this team will occur from now until the end of June and I know the students who are selected will do a great job of bringing the voice of the entire student population to the meetings.

My Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) met first thing Friday morning. As always, we shared some important information with our Principals, Vice Principals, and central office personnel before engaging in some tremendous discussions related to ongoing challenges our students, families, and schools are facing. During our last couple of DLT meetings, we have used a function of our meeting software (WebEx) to allow smaller groups of administrators to break off and discuss topics before coming back to the group for a larger discussion. This practice has been beneficial, giving role-alike groups and staff with similar grade structures in their schools the opportunity to have specific conversations together about their unique challenges. I often think how much harder the past year might have been if we did not have access to the technology we have. If you get a chance, thank a Horizon tech. Justin, Ken, and their team certainly work incredibly hard to make our jobs easier.

With the non-instructional day on Monday, I hope our students have a great long weekend, and we will look forward to having them back in class on Tuesday. Of course, the survey regarding the calendar has been sent out and you have until the end of day on Monday to provide your thoughts. I have been asked why I am only providing one calendar option. In fact, it really is two. This year’s calendar is the fallback option if the changes made to the calendar are not considered positive by staff. To date, we have 210 staff and SCC members who have responded to the survey and I encourage you to complete it if you haven’t already. I see many advantages to the 5 days for students, families, and staff but the Board and I want to hear what you have to say. Your voice has influenced this innovation and your voice is important to sharing your views on whether it meets the mark.

Have a great week, Horizon. Thank you for continuing your incredible efforts to keep everyone around you safe.

- Kevin

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