Chairperson’s Report to Council
for January 2022
by Judy Kelley, Chairperson, LBPSB
Welcome back, everyone. Welcome to our first council meeting of 2022. We are half way through the school year. I would like to recognize all of the work that has been done for our students at every level of education and in every situation where the goal and ultimate vision is to ensure LBPSB students achieve excellence while maximizing their potential. I would like to applaud every person who contributed to overcoming and facing the challenges of being back in the classroom, just two weeks ago, although it may feel like weeks and weeks ago. Living directly across the street from an elementary school provided me with a first-hand view of the excitement and enthusiasm of students returning to school after almost a month, on January 18th. They also had mountains of snow to play on, literally. The scene was joyful.
The list of health and safety measures taken to ensure that everyone in our schools and centres would be comfortable in their return was taken very seriously at our school board. Many discussions, pivots, pirouettes, new measures, and custom designed approaches – from accounting for absences in our schools, to continuing to enhance the air quality in our classrooms – these actions went well beyond directives from the government. This is who we are at the LBPSB. We take initiatives and show leadership in order to be the best we can be. We also recognize that there are differing opinions within our community about how to manage each step we take when we are faced with a multitude of decisions and new challenges, but we are a respectful community and know that the past two years, not just the past two weeks, have been extraordinary.
I would also like to recognize that while educating our students during a unique time in our country’s public health history, all who have taught LBPSB students, engaged them in their learning in creative and meaningful ways, who helped them to become conscientious, responsible, aware and kind citizens, your work is so very much appreciated. With new directions in Equity, Diversity, Dignity and Inclusion, with increased awareness of the importance of physical well-being and mental health, with ever-changing approaches to education during a time of environmental crises, with our classrooms at the centre of these challenges, education has been evolving in significant and demanding ways. It is both a difficult and very exciting time.
On a personal note, I have had the honour of joining the Canadian School Mental Health Leadership Network and attended my first virtual meeting with this impressive group of professionals earlier this month. Through the presentations and break-out discussions, I learned so much, and am already looking forward to the next meeting in the spring. The perspectives I gained by learning about this important topic from people across the country is inspiring. I have been thinking a lot about mental health and well-being and have great concern for students in our schools who we may be thinking are resilient, but who are actually experiencing stress and anxiety. I think of the focus of our conversations inside and outside of school settings as being Covid, Covid, Covid. I can’t help but worry about how this front and center topic is wearing us all down and how, especially for the little ones whose imaginations may be full of worry and fearful thoughts, we really need to be careful and to change the channel of conversation as often as we can. Bell’s Let’s Talk Day took place last week, and it is a significant day for raising awareness and funds for mental health. Let’s remember to talk the talk whenever we need to.
As well, in the past week, we have recognized and remembered, with compassion, humility and solace, International Holocaust Remembrance Day,which honours over 6 million Jews who perished during the Holocaust and the millions of victims and survivors of this atrocious time in history. We observed The National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia, by remembering the 6 men who died, the 19 injured and the devastating fall-out from this tragedy on January 29th, 5 years ago. These are clear examples of why we must continue to honour lost and destroyed lives by fighting against systemic racism, discrimination, hatred and gun violence. We must stand by each other in collective courage and hope for a better world.
I will conclude my remarks tonight by urging us all to be kind and patient, to bring out the goodness in everyone and to use this endless resource of kindness to enhance and enrich the work we do for the best school board in the Province.