It is hard to fathom that the so-called ‘blizzard’ of 2020 was only a few short weeks ago. Snowbanks are quickly receding, while bird populations and wildlife are appearing more frequently in anticipation of the onset of spring in Bruce and Grey Counties.
This year’s March Break coincides with the first day of spring on Thursday, March 19. I hope that mild temperatures and favourable weather conditions will allow you the chance to explore the stunning beauty of the great outdoors that we are so fortunate to have at our disposal.
I recognize that it has been a difficult and uncertain time for public education in Ontario over the past several months. A lot of uncertainty remains regarding the ongoing provincial job action, and the impact on students and families. In Bluewater District School Board, our trustees continue to proactively advocate for a well-funded public education system for our rural students. This includes ensuring that our board’s voice is heard at the provincial level on key issues, such as the preference of smaller versus larger class sizes and voluntary online learning that is not legislated. We have created a dedicated web page with the latest correspondence sent on behalf of our Board of Trustees to key dignitaries, such as the Minister of Education, Premier, MPPs, and other school boards. Our labour updates web page also continues to include the most recent information on provincial job action by the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario, and any impact on our schools in Bluewater District School Board.
There has also been much concern around the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), and steps we are taking to ensure preparedness. As per the provincial government’s recent decision to close all publicly funded schools due to the emergence of COVID-19 in Ontario, all Bluewater District School Board schools and facilities will be closed from March 14 to April 5, 2020. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and follow the advice of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Grey Bruce Public Health. Bluewater District School Board has an up-to-date Pandemic Preparedness Plan, and regular updates are being posted to our COVID-19 web page.
Regarding the status of planned student trips (international and otherwise) in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our students is a priority, as always. Based on the recent 30-day ban of most international flights into the United States, and the provincial efforts to flatten the spread of COVID-19, we are cancelling all field trips in Bluewater District School Board for the foreseeable future. Going forward, our staff will continue to follow professional, research-based advice, which includes Health Canada and Government of Canada travel advisories, in determining the appropriate balance between the interests of students and parents, and the actual risks involved.
Despite the anxious times that we are experiencing both locally and globally, I hope that March Break allows everyone, even if for a moment, to shift their focus from some of these issues to spending quality time among family and friends. For our Bluewater District School Board staff who are working during March Break, I thank you for everything you do to keep our organization running smoothly while students and others are away. Your efforts in maintaining the many critically important functions you perform are deeply appreciated.
Happy March Break!