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Powell River Board of Education chairperson outlines resumption of studies during pandemic

Schools resume in challenging times
PROVIDES REMARKS: Powell River Board of Education chairperson Dale Lawson outlined back-to-school protocols and objectives at the first board meeting of the 2021 to 2022 school year.

School District 47 is committed to ensuring schools are operating in a safe manner, and providing quality instruction for their students, according to Powell River Board of Education chairperson Dale Lawson.

At the September 22 board of education meeting, Lawson said as the school district gets back to its routines this month, it marks the third school year in a pandemic environment, but this year the situation feels a little different.

“Even though the return to school wasn’t quite the return to normal we had hoped for, it is beginning to feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel as students resume sports, music and a variety of extracurricular activities,” said Lawson. “While many of us enjoyed a break over the summer, school staff and administrators have worked tirelessly to ensure our schools are back-to-school ready. Throughout the pandemic, our staff have worked incredibly hard, as they’ve remained flexible, agile and committed to student safety. Everyone has been doing their best in these challenging times to meet the needs of each student and to support one another.”

Lawson said while safety is always a priority, it’s the collective responsibility now to focus work on student success.

“This work has become more complex as the pandemic wears on, but this is a challenge we must rise to,” said Lawson. “We don’t know when all of this will be history, but we do know that together we are powerful, and if we can support one another, demonstrate kindness, empathy and patience, we will all be part of the best path forward and we will reap the rewards of these attributes of student success.”

Lawson said the school district is into the second half of its strategic plan and the commitment to pre-pandemic goals that were set to improve achievement results for all students, to support mental health needs and well-being of students and staff, and to improve communication and engagement strategies, are even more relevant today than they were when they were established.

“We’ve made a lot of progress and we know we still have a lot of work to do,” said Lawson.

Reconciliation observance

Lawson said that moving toward the end of September the school district welcomes and embraces the first observance of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

“It’s a time to recognize and commemorate the intergenerational harm residential schools have caused to Indigenous families and communities, and to honour those who have been affected by this injustice,” said Lawson. “It’s also an opportunity to reflect on our own behaviours, to evaluate the way we see and treat each other. There’s never been a better time to understand and learn about the rich history of the lands on which we are privileged to live and to appreciate the culture of the people who share it with us.

“We expect that as we’re able to bring people together with our equity in action team, and progress is made on the equity scan project for our community, that we will be better poised to support our Indigenous students and all learners within our district.”

Lawson said the community that residents share is without a doubt one of the best.

“As we start this school year, we know we need to continue to lean into one another, inspire each other, and lift each other up,” said Lawson. “We know that learning is best rooted in relationships that are built in safe, caring and nurturing environments and that each of us have a role to play in that.  

“I’d like to take the opportunity to ask everyone to celebrate each other, our differences and our similarities, and to continue to support one another as we navigate the home stretch of this crisis together. Sincere thanks to each of you for your contribution to our collective success. Welcome back everyone, we’re going to have a great year.”

Lawson said she would also like to take a moment to acknowledge a tragic loss for the community with the passing of Fergus O’Neil.

“Fergus brightened every room he entered and his presence within our district will be deeply missed,” said Lawson. “Our thoughts are with his family and friends in this difficult time. May he rest in peace and his spirit and memories live on in all of us.”