As we are now into the second full week of May, I want to highlight one of the most significant days in our calendars for all of us in Horizon and beyond...Mother’s Day! It is such a special day to celebrate the incredible people in our lives we are lucky enough to call “mom" or act in the place of mom. For many, mother is the person who raised us, often from birth. But for many others, this day also represents the importance of anyone who acts in the place of a mother, who cares for us, teaches us, lifts us up, and supports us throughout our lives. Even within our teaching profession, as staff are acting "in loco parentis", they are truly taking on an even bigger role than that of the teacher. They are in so many ways surrogate mothers to the children we serve. As we think about the amazing people in our lives who have been there for us, we also recognize that this can be a difficult day for many due to strained relationships, absence due to the pandemic, loss, or even tragedy. Wherever you are, "moms", your importance in our lives will never be lost on us. To each of you we consider as a mom, thank you!
Last week, we continued to be challenged by COVID-19 in our communities. I want to thank everyone in our communities, our students, families, and staff for your tireless work to both mitigate the spread of the virus and respond when needed. This has been a challenging year for many, and I want everyone reading this to know that your efforts do not go unnoticed...they are simply appreciated by so many including our Board and my office!
I had a meeting with the League of Educational Administrators, Directors, and Superintendents (LEADS) members on Tuesday, discussing items related to classroom isolation and planning in the event of COVID-19 exposures in schools. I then joined the agenda meeting to plan for our regular Board meeting coming up on May 12. Our agenda meetings are always important opportunities to review the components of the agenda with the Board Chair, Jim Hack, and the Vice Chair, Linda Mattock. This usually ensures everyone is prepared, which can lead to an efficient meeting and, more importantly, effective meeting when the full Board comes together for their monthly meeting. Although the May meeting will once again be virtual, we do look forward to the day when trustees are able to meet face-to-face.
The Senior Leadership Team was together for much of the day last Wednesday, meeting with myself and CFO Sandy Gessner to discuss the 2021-2022 budget for Horizon. Each member of our team has contributed to this effort, and we simply could not put our budget together each year without a significant amount of collaboration. I want to thank all our senior staff, principals and for the efforts to bring the budget together this year. Our next steps are to finalize the preliminary budget and take it to the Board for their deliberations with a view for their final approval in the next few weeks. Although this has been another challenging budget year as funding did not equate to increased costs in a number of areas, we remain grateful for what we do have and are in a positive position to allow the Board to make their important decisions on the finalization of their budget.
Wednesday afternoon, I had a meeting with our Saskatoon Medical Health Officer, Dr. Kapaj and his staff, discussing a new testing program that is being implemented. I then joined our weekly meeting with Dr. Shahab and other Health officials and division and ministry personnel to discuss updates and important information relating to the ongoing pandemic.
Thursday was focused on a meeting with my fellow Directors of Education from across Saskatchewan discussing items of concern for the sector before diving into the significant challenges in our communities related to Covid-19. We now have 7 schools at level 4 (all students learning from home) and two other schools with classrooms shut down and students placed on self-isolation. They will also continue their learning from home.
As we continue to deal with the pandemic, I share the sentiments of our medical health officers who remind us that the one way out of the pandemic is through vaccination. With the three stages of re-entry being announced this week, it is anticipated that our gathering sizes and businesses will continue to realize a re-opening that will begin May 30th. This is certainly welcome news and may lead to potential changes in our own plans for our schools. I know everyone is looking to this temporary situation normalizing in the weeks and months ahead.
Have a great week and stay safe, Horizon.
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205