June 9, 2021 Board Meeting News

June 11th, 2021

Regional Office – 

Board approves proposal to enhance Literacy and Numeracy strategies

Assistant Superintendent Thiesen presented the board with a proposal to address gaps in student learning from COVID-19 related restrictions and absences. The proposal includes enhanced literacy and numeracy strategies focused on developing professional capital. The proposal is intended to provide more time for teachers to participate in literacy and numeracy strategies, including opportunities for training and collaboration. It will also support the renewal of relationships between teachers after more than a year of teaching and learning in relative isolation. This is a step towards rebuilding the culture of collaboration amongst teachers. 

The board approved the proposal, which includes access to $200,000 from the division’s operating reserves. Read the full proposal here. 

First Nations, Métis, and Inuit (FNMI) Update

Assistant Superintendent Thiesen provided an overview of the professional learning that has occurred this year focused on Indigenous learning and Truth and Reconciliation. He highlighted the professional learning opportunities that occur at monthly Leadership Meetings involving principals, associate principals, directors and senior administration which include regular exercises that encourage discussion on First Nations, Métis and Inuit topics. 

The group uses a resource provided by the College of Alberta School Superintendents to guide their learning: Guide to Relationships and Learning with the Indigenous Peoples of Alberta. The guide was developed through an Indigenous lens by including the voices and teachings of Elders and Knowledge Keepers. It brings understanding to multiple areas of learning that capture and cover the essential teachings identified by the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of Alberta. 

Thiesen also highlighted the importance of the ongoing support by FNMI Liaisons Audrey Degner and Darleen Olson. While responding to direct needs of students and sometimes their families, they also provide support and guidance for teachers and school staff regarding indigenous learning. They ensure that staff and students build and maintain a direct connection with indigenous peoples in our communities. 

School Updates from Barrhead Composite and Pembina North 

The board regularly holds meetings at schools, however during COVID-19 all meetings have been restricted to Regional Office with most participants attending online. At the June 9th meeting, Pembina North Community School (PNCS) and Barrhead Composite High School (BCHS) provided school updates for the board. 

PNCS Principal Raime Drake provided a brief overview of the school year, including an overall enrollment increase of 24 students. Although several students chose online or at-home learning options last fall, some students have since returned to school. Additionally some new families have moved into the area, bringing overall attendance up. This year COVID restrictions made it challenging to hold school-wide group activities and events. However, by applying ‘outside the box’ thinking, staff came up with creative ways to allow many group activities to proceed safely, while still following COVID restrictions. Although they are happy to report that PNCS has not recorded any positive cases so far this year, they have seen a significant increase in student absenteeism. 

BCHS Principal Darcie Eamor and Associate Principal Greg Ferguson highlighted the impact that COVID has had on the students and staff. The school recorded a total of 33 student cases during the year—while 10 of those were not school related, 23 of those cases forced almost 1,200 students into quarantine. With a school population of only 611, this means that several students have had to quarantine more than once. In fact, some students have been sent home as many as 3 times. Eamor stressed the negative impact this has had on students’ mental health, particularly Grade 12 students. 

Ferguson shared some of the positives, including advancements in the use of technology by both staff and students. With students unable to use lockers this year, teachers have reported a significant reduction in lost items and late arrivals to class. 

2021-2022 Board Meeting schedule approved

The board approved their 2021-2022 meeting schedule, which includes in-school board meetings starting in November. See the full meeting schedule here. 

Check out the board meeting agenda and minutes for more information. 

The next school board meeting is at the Regional Office on Wednesday, June 23, 2021 starting at 9:00 a.m. Members of the public are invited to view a livestream of the meeting on our website.