Parent Message from the PSB

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

Click here to view a message from Director Parker Grimmer.

I am standing in front of one of our schools today because these are important places, and one of the places where learning happens for students. Within our schools and PSB offices, we are now planning and preparing for students and staff to safely return to school in September.

These last days of the school year, much like the last months, have been like no other. We have all been doing things much differently than we have in the past. 2019-2020 has been a busy, demanding, challenging, at times frustrating, but ultimately a successful year for students and those who have worked with them including parents and staff. We hope everyone is able to reflect back on some positive, productive, and successful moments.

We want to take a moment to recognize the efforts of students, parents, and staff. Thank you for your patience, energy, commitment, teamwork, willingness to try new things, and do old things in new ways. These words come from sharing and observing what we have seen on the journey with our educational community these last weeks. Our shared success is reflected in the accomplishments of our students, and we should be pleased with our efforts working together to assist in their success. We have learned once again that good things can happen, even in the most challenging circumstances, when we work together.

We haven’t been perfect though. I can’t tell you how many times COVID-19 has proved my thinking to be wrong, or how some days our planning in the morning was no longer current or helpful by the afternoon. While we made inroads into how we supported students and families in need, we still have work to do to provide more equitable learning for students. We have all learned so much through this pandemic, including the importance of reflection and the need to routinely adjust our thinking and actions. I want to genuinely thank students, parents, and staff for supporting us, even through the times when we and our circumstances seemed most uncertain.

Planning is underway to bring students and staff safely back to our schools and work spaces. The provincial government’s Fall Education Readiness Committee has been working to determine the plan for returning to school in September and the PSB is working with the Chief Public Health Office and our partners at the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning to determine the best configurations for buses, schools, and workspaces.

We also need to prepare ourselves for the possibility that learning in school might need to look differently next year. We will make every effort to communicate plans in a timely way so all of our educational partners can prepare as much as possible.

While there is still some uncertainty to all this, we know with certainty that students are best served when we work together. We thank everyone for their patience and cooperation as we work through planning to return to school. We look forward to the 2020-2021 school year, with all of the challenges and opportunities it will hold.

Congratulations to those who have graduated, are moving to a new school, or who are retiring as one of our valued employees. We are also excited to welcome new students, parents and staff who will be joining the PSB next year!

I wish every member of our PSB educational community a safe, restful, and happy summer!

Until September, take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director

Graduation

Good Morning Parents,

One more sleep and it’s Graduation Day!  I have been receiving a few questions about tomorrow evening’s events and hope that this message will clarify a few things.

GRAD PARADE: 6:10 Grads meet at the rink to drive in the Grad Parade.  The route is Main St, Chapel St and Longworth Ave.  This parade is not organized by the school, so please check Facebook’s Parent Group for further details.  Graduation begins at 7:00pm sharp.

GRADUATE:  Following the parade, graduates enter the school, and participate in a traditional graduation ceremony.  When the ceremony is over, grads will be asked to return their gowns.

GRADUATE GUESTS: Following the parade, Guests are asked to wait in your car in the parking lot.  When your graduate’s name is announced over the outdoor PA, you will be directed to the Main Doors.  There, your group of guests will wait to move into the cafeteria.  Staff and security will be available to guide you to the entrance and be sure you are ready for your grad’s presentation.  You will be asked to sanitize and provide your name, should it become necessary for contact tracing.  At the appropriate time, your group will move into the school, to the back of the cafeteria.  From there you can take photos, but they will be at a longer distance.  Once your graduate has been presented their diploma on the stage, then the grad’s group of guests will continue out of the cafeteria through the service doors.  This means that you will leave the building through the doors that face the trailer park.  Once you have left the school, you are asked to return to your car as that concludes the parent/guest portion of the evening.

PHOTOS/LIVESTREAM: Loretta Campbell will be positioned to take a professional photo of your son/daughter near the stage.  There will be no opportunity to take family photos during the ceremony.  Please take these family/group photos anytime prior to graduation. The ceremony will also be livestreamed on our school’s Facebook page for those at home but you can view it at a later time through Facebook.  The Eastern Graphic will also cover graduation.

DURATION OF CEREMONY:  I have been asked to give an estimate of the end-time of the ceremony.  There is no way to tell.  A traditional ceremony typically lasts 1.5 hours.  This year, with the movement of 30 groups at 10 guests each, we have more unknowns.  One option is for families to sit in your vehicle until the end of the program and collect your graduate to go home at the very end of the ceremony; another option is to leave your graduate at the school with their own vehicle so that you can meet at home.  This means that for some parents whose student is in the early letters of the alphabet, that you may be finished here at 30-45 minutes into the ceremony.  You are free to go home at that point if you have made travel arrangements for your grad to get from the school to home.

I hope this provides clarity to our school families as you prepare for Graduation 2020.  On behalf of our students and staff, I thank you for your support.

Anna MacKenzie, Principal

Souris Regional School

Message from PSB for Parents/Guardians and Students

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

The Public Schools Branch would like to send congratulations and best wishes to our 2020 Graduates. We want to congratulate all our grade 12 graduates on their many accomplishments during their education journey these last 12 years. We hope they enjoy the recognitions and ceremonies that are being planned for them next week to mark this major achievement.

We live in interesting times that we will always remember. Our 2020 graduates will certainly never forget the year they graduated. Even though our graduates are leaving public education during a worldwide pandemic, they have remained focused, pushed forward, and developed skills of resiliency that will carry them well into the future. Their determination and resolve has been inspiring.

This is a time for our graduates, to reflect on and celebrate their accomplishments, efforts, and actions with their parents, family and friends. Our graduates have achieved so many great things to get to this stage of life, and in doing so, they have created endless possibilities for themselves. We wish all graduates the best of success in what life has to offer as they head to university, college, the work force, or other pursuits. We encourage our PSB graduates to continue to fill chapters of the amazing story they are writing. #classof2020

COVID-19 Response to Mental Health Concerns

A Child and Youth Urgent Mental Health Care service is now available for children and youth ages 18 and under with urgent mental health needs or very high emotional distress. Children and youth with urgent mental health needs can call the virtual clinic for support and assistance. Children, youth, and their parents can call toll free at 1-866-833-5443 from 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily to connect with trained Health PEI mental health clinicians, who will provide a thorough risk assessment, help to stabilize any crisis, and connect to appropriate community supports.

Outside of the Child and Youth Urgent Mental Health Care hours, individuals requiring urgent mental health support can also access the Island Help Line (1-800-218-2885), Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868), their local emergency department, or 911. Community Mental Health Services, Student Well Being Teams, Strongest Families, and other community partners will continue to be available for all non-urgent mental health questions and concerns. For information on these services contact your local Community Mental Health office or Mental Health and Addictions Information Service at 1-833-533-9333.

Thank you to those who sent me feedback on the benefit and value of these weekly communications that began back in mid-March. It is my hope that these messages have been helpful. Next Wednesday will be the last letter for the 2019-20 school year. Plans are in the works to make it both a video and written message.

Until then, take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director of Public Schools Branch

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

A friend recently shared with me a message from the Prince Edward Island Public Service Commission about working from home with kids during the pandemic. The information is very helpful and I have drawn from it to share several important points for your consideration.

Many parents and staff are still working from home as they continue to manage the realities of dealing with COVID-19. We are all beginning to understand that working from home might continue for some time, at least part-time. Many are working alongside their family members, including children and may find this to be a challenge. There are a few positive things that we can all do in these situations.

Approach unpredictable times with flexibility. Being flexible helps us to better adapt to changes happening at home or with our workday. The positive side of being flexible is we are never going to feel stuck doing things “the one right way.” We can learn from our efforts, make revisions, and try something else without judging ourselves harshly. It is important to be kind to ourselves when we struggle and our day doesn’t unfold with our work and family the way we planned it would.

Find relief. Life is tough sometimes, really tough and at times we need to find relief in the simplest of things. Nature, family, music, cooking, art, gardening, exercise, reading, etc. can give us the break we need from our struggles so that we can recharge and refocus. Positive things will happen for our families and ourselves when we find ways to get some relief from life’s challenges.

Seek support to gain solutions. It is important to reach out for emotional support to those you trust.   Professional support can also help us gain new skills and strategies to manage our priorities and struggles. To access advice and find solutions to problems that are affecting work, family or your well-being, contact the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 1-800-239-3826 or eap@gov.pe.ca. It’s free and confidential.

For more information on how to work from home with kids in a pandemic, click the link: https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2020/how-to-try-to-work-from-home-with-kids-in-a-pandemic/. The article includes practical and helpful suggestions to support working from home while managing students of various ages.

Take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

June 3 Message from Parker Grimmer

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

As we move into June and the last month of school for the 2019-2020 school year, Public Schools Branch (PSB) staff are working diligently on the many year-end tasks and are planning and preparing to ensure success for September 2020. In accordance with the provisions of Phase 3 in Renew PEI, school staffs have more opportunities to support students and families throughout the month of June.

Teachers are available to schedule in-person appointments with students who wish to review their learning, the Respite Program is being offered in all PSB schools, some teachers are connecting with students through Google Meet, and PSB consultants and school counsellors have begun to reach out to families needing specialized supports. Home learning will continue until June 12 for high school students and June 19 for K-9 students.

Schools have been very successful in finding ways to maintain connections and relationships with students and families.  As we continue to navigate our changing landscape and find our way through these unprecedented times, we want to thank students, families and staff for their efforts and for working together.

Take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch

May 26th message from Parker Grimmer

We have been very impressed with the work of our teachers, who have migrated to home learning platforms with tremendous efficiency and creativity during this global pandemic.  Teachers have been very busy preparing lessons, providing feedback on learning, connecting with students, working through year-end transition processes and supporting the social and emotional well-being of students. Teachers have and continue to be available to students and families through various means of communication.

 

Like all Islanders, staff at the Public Schools Branch (PSB) have been very encouraged with recent messaging from the province and the Chief Public Health Office (CPHO), including the positive trend toward lifting restrictions on mobility and gatherings in PEI. As home learning continues to unfold, we are able to consider broader opportunities to connect and engage with students and families. We would like to provide you with an update.

 

In accordance with the provisions outlined in Renew PEI, new possibilities for staff and students to connect at their respective school will be available. With the easing of restrictions, PSB staff may be available to provide additional support to students.

 

As restrictions are being lifted, PSB staff are excited that there are greater opportunities to connect with students to support academic and well-being needs. Teachers will be reaching out to their students with options they can participate in.

 

In addition, Respite Programming will begin operating at all 56 PSB schools. Please contact respite@edu.pe.ca or (902) 368-4997 for more information.

 

Student Services consultants and specialists will be in contact with families as additional supports become available. For more information please contact supportforfamilies@edu.pe.ca or (902) 368-5155.
Schools are excitedly working on plans for High School Graduations and year end closing activities, within the public health guidelines outlined by the Chief Public Health Office.  While activities will not look the same as in previous years, schools are committed to offering a unique experience to mark the end of the school year and wish their students well.

Message from Parker Grimmer – May 13, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians, Students, and Staff;

Our teachers, administrators, support staff, branch staff, parents, and students are working incredibly hard to adapt to the new reality of at-home learning during COVID-19. The pandemic has presented challenges for many including parents working and balancing home life, teachers developing remote lesson plans to fit different students’ needs, and students looking for new ways to stay connected to friends and learning. There are many successes and members of our PSB community are meeting these new demands with determination and enthusiasm.

We all know how adaptable and resilient PSB students, parents, educators, and staff are in the best of times, and through these difficult times each group has shown this in more ways than ever before. We admire our teachers and other branch staff, parents, and students who are teaching us all lessons in perseverance.

Amazing examples of this include the food programs that have been supporting our families. PSB staff were able to deliver the Department of Agriculture food hampers directly to many families across the Island who did not have access to a vehicle. Our School Food Program provided 6,006 meals to 858 students last week, a 12% increase over the previous week.

Another success story is the Respite Program that began this week. Students who had been receiving individualized support at school from an Education Assistant, Youth Service Worker, or other Student Services Team Member may receive a 2 to 3 hour blocks of play/game based respite care on a scheduled basis. These examples of people coming together and working hard to help others is inspiring to all of us.

By following the public health measures, Islanders have also experienced success as a province in reducing the number of COVID-19 cases in PEI. In doing so we are seeing some of the public health measures relaxed. The Department of Education and Lifelong Learning will likely soon be making an announcement about the reinstatement of early childhood programs, including those for school aged children housed in schools, to assist parents who are returning to work.

As we move through the sixth week of at-home learning, it is an excellent time to thank students, teachers, parents, and staff for their ongoing commitment to learning together, while always remaining safe. Our shared goal is to ensure the successful completion of the school year for all students and to support students as they advance to the next grade, earn credits, and for some to graduate.

We all have an important role in keeping students motivated and engaged for these next weeks. Teachers continue to have high expectations for students and we all want students to continue to have high expectations for themselves. The work we are doing together is about helping students succeed and prepare for the future.

It is important to take time to reflect on how much we have all achieved thus far by working together. Be proud of your accomplishments. We here at the PSB are very proud of you.

Keep learning and take care,

Parker Grimmer

Director, Public Schools Branch