March 13, 2020 Message to Members
I feel pretty certain that I am not the only one who has stopped and reflected this week on where we are in space and time. Space, because I am thankful to be a Canadian and a British Columbian with access to a steady stream of reliable information about the threat of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), but also a surety of purpose where we know that our provincial and federal leadership are serious about safeguarding citizens. This week, I was heartened to see our provincial Minister of Health Adrian Dix acknowledge his colleagues from the opposition – BC Liberal Norm Letnick and BC Green Sonia Furstenau – for their united efforts in dealing, as a province, with the virus. And time, because I have those moments of disbelief that this can happen in our world, right now, and with such alarming pace and outcomes.
And I acknowledge, too, that if we as adults are thinking that way, then our students are in similar states of shock and disbelief as they watch the local news stories and start to understand the global context. This week, three of our schools were affected by the Coronavirus and required deep cleaning before re-opening to students. Our members have reported a high level of student absences, not to mention teachers and staff who are respecting the public health advisory to self-isolate. We recognize the immense challenge that our members are facing in maintaining the regular operation of your schools and communicating the advice of the provincial health authorities, while working to stay well and be available for dialogue with concerned students, parents and community members.
So, at the heart of this column, I really want to say thank you to all of you as leaders. Thank you for ensuring that your schools are safe places to be, and that the people in them feel confident and informed. Thank you for combatting misinformation (garlic really doesn’t make you immune to the virus, despite what you see online), and for understanding that in the face of an emergent situation like this, our students still need structure, consistency and stimulation, but not pressure to keep up with the curriculum.
Spring Break this year will have a different feeling for most of us, still a welcome break but one that comes with a sense of exhaling a long-held breath. It’s a critical time for you to recharge: for some, that’s jumping into the hustle and bustle of activities, and for others it will be working your way through the bedside pile of books. Whatever your personal tonic may be, I hope that you can drink deeply from it for the next two weeks. I’m looking forward to coming together again in a couple of weeks, refreshed.