It is hard to believe we are halfway through June already. There is just so much going on in schools and in our province as the world continues to get closer and closer to re-opening. As recently as June 13, it was announced that Saskatchewan is only 1% away from reaching the 3rd milestone in the plan referred to as the Re-opening Roadmap. I know we will all relish in the days and weeks ahead when masking is no longer a requirement for us in indoor places. It remains to be seen exactly what this will entail. It may be that indoor public gatherings will still require masks whenever we are within 2 meters of physical distance. I know the government’s team will provide more clarity through the language of the plan when it is ready for the public to receive. It is certainly uplifting to see sports events in the US happen without the use of masks. That is perhaps a little further from where Canada is at, but we will get to this level of normalcy for events in due course. I had the pleasure of watching baseball outdoors over the weekend and it was such a heart-warming experience to see our youth engaged in something they love.
In the meantime, we continue to follow necessary protocols, including those that are rapidly shifting. One such example is that of curricular trips. Principals are aware trips may not be approved based on travel requirements as buses in certain situations will not be able to be used. As a result, if you have questions, please direct them through your direct supervisor and my office will address them on a case-by-case basis. We do need to maintain the diligent efforts that have kept us safe these last weeks and months. The last thing anyone wants is to enter the summer holidays having to self-isolate or that a graduation ceremony is placed on hold because of Covid-19. All this said, I once again thank you for the courageous efforts you have made and continue to make to provide opportunities for students in the safe and health-focused manner you have been operating.
Learning Improvement Plans continued last week, with Superintendent of Student Services, Darrell Paproski, and I travelling to Wakaw, Cudworth, Bruno, Viscount, Archerwill, Rose Valley, Annaheim, Three Lakes, Lake Lenore, St. Brieux, Kelvington, Robert Melrose, and Watson throughout the week. Due to other emergent needs, Darrell travelled to Three Lakes and Watson on his own this week and I appreciate that principals have been understanding during these challenging times. This week brought us to the end of this round of LIP reviews, and I want to thank all our principals, vice principals, and school staff members for their dedication to these important planning documents.
Throughout last week, meetings were held to discuss ongoing pandemic matters with Medical Health Officers, our Education sector leaders, the Corporate Services Team (CST), the Response Planning Team (RPT), and the Director’s Leadership Team (DLT) of principals, vice principals, and central office leadership. We continue to work very diligently to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and communities across Saskatchewan, and we owe a great deal to our students, staff, families, and communities for getting us through the year so far. We all need to maintain our diligence, despite the fact that our daily COVID numbers have been much more positive in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, I met with our Board Table Officers, Chair Jim Hack, and Vice-Chair Linda Mattock, to plan the agenda for the Board’s June regular meeting. We were also joined by Deputy Director, Randy MacLEAN, Superintendent of Operational Services, Justin Arendt, Superintendent of Finance Services, Sandy Gessner, Executive Assistants, Melanie Gray and Marni Sogge, and Communication Services Officer, Lance Hiltz.
On Thursday, we held our fourth and last Lanigan School Project stakeholder workshop. The team had another fantastic session in planning for the new school that will serve the communities in the area and the school division. The feedback that has been gathered through this process has been invaluable and will be an outstanding resource for the next phases of this project. It has been wonderful having students from the three schools that will provide students to the new facility. Their work that involved connecting with their peers was outstanding and insightful and having a student's voice is an important reminder of best practices for engagement at the school, system, and provincial levels. We also had a School Community Council member as part of these discussions and they, along with our local trustee, Mr Mark Fedak, were vital to the vision of the project. The next stages of our project will involve creating detailed drawings and ensuring the mechanical needs of the school are met. Our hope is to have shovels hit the ground in March of 2022 with a plan to have the school completed for the 2023-24 school year. I think, from what this group has accomplished, we are well on our way!
Graduation ceremonies continued this week across Horizon School Division. As these events are taking place outdoors, we had a number of ceremonies originally scheduled for Friday, which were moved to the weekend. I appreciate everyone’s adaptability and patience to make this work. Our representatives from the Board and my office joined celebrations at Bruno School and Raymore School on Friday, as well as William Derby School, Englefeld School, Wynyard Composite, Wadena Composite, Muenster School, and St. Brieux School on Saturday, and Lanigan Central High School on Sunday. Congratulations to this week’s graduates, and thank you to the students, staff, and community members who helped make these celebrations a success.
Lastly this week, I want to share our deepest condolences on two matters that occurred recently. Our thoughts and/or prayers are with the friends and family of Michael Medvid. A memorial was held for Michael on June 5. He was a well-loved member of our Transportation Services team and drove a school bus for an amazing 50+ years. It is a remarkable career in service to students, and we join his loved ones in mourning this loss. We also join the families and friends of Saskatchewan RCMP Constable Shelby Patton who was tragically killed in the line of duty over the weekend. We will certainly remember these significant people and so many others who are no longer with us and whose families must endure this pain and suffering of loss in the midst of a pandemic.
Have a great week and continue to stay safe, Horizon.
Kevin C. Garinger B.Ed., M.A.Ed.
Director of Education/CEO
Horizon School Division No. 205