Submitted by Justine Bell, OCDSB School Trustee for Somerset-Kitchissippi
We made it through September! In this past month, students, educators, families: we have all learned so much. We now speak a new language and have new behaviours. We have learned about hygiene etiquette; keeping two metres’ distance (about six feet, or about one metre in schools); what socializing can and can’t look like in the time of COVID-19 (an especially hard lesson for children and teenagers); what type of mask feels most comfortable; how many students can be in a classroom; how to read a high school timesheet, log on to school, make an appointment for a COVID-19 test; and so much more. For many, last month was also the first time that they reached out to their trustee or another elected official for help.
Although we are now living, learning and engaging in new ways, some things haven’t changed. Many of us continue to tuck in our children at the end of the day and to do all we can to protect them.
Through all of this change, educators have stepped up to lead, teaching us what is important as we form our new routines. In this time of uncertainty, what continues to be important is creating a culture of caring, social responsibility and innovation — our ultimate objective at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB). Over the past month, we have learned that in order to do so, it takes a community.
It also takes some governing and policy decisions by your trustees on the board. So, what did we discuss this September? Some of the issues included: teacher shortages; class sizes; outbreak protocol; whether it should be mandatory for students from Kindergarten to Grade 3 to wear masks; school bus route cancellations; special education support; encouraging parent involvement in school councils; cleaning protocol and ventilation; the audit plan; collective agreements; the draft Indigenous, Human Rights and Equity Roadmap; a review looking into police presence in schools; advocating to the province; and effectively communicating and building trust within our community.
In addition to the nine board and committee meetings that I attended last month, I am working hard behind the scenes. My positions are, and will always be, evidence-based. Education is a right; we must do all we can to keep schools open and safe for all. It takes a community.